Advisory: New research to uncover close ties between polluting cargo carriers, major U.S. retailers

Monday November 22, 2021

Report will expose massive pollution impacts on U.S. ports, coastal communities from maritime shipping practices of Walmart, Target, Amazon, IKEA, showcasing need for retailers to lead shipping industry toward zero-emissions vessels

LOS ANGELES — New research being released on Monday, November 29, 2021, will take an in-depth look at four major retail companies that import goods into the United States — Walmart, Target, Amazon, and IKEA — and map their often-hidden relationships with the fossil-fueled cargo carriers they hire to transport their goods. The research is being released on Cyber Monday, in a year that promises to mark a shift to e-commerce shopping unlike anything the world has ever seen.

WHO: Ship It Zero coalition members Stand.earth and Pacific Environment

WHAT: The research will offer a chance to better understand how household brands move their products into the U.S. via maritime shipping routes and will expose which retail companies and carriers are most responsible for the nation’s port pollution crisis. The retail companies in the report are some of the top U.S. importers via ocean container transport, comprising 7% of the total estimated imports to the U.S. in 2020, with Walmart and Target in first and second place, respectively. 

The findings will reveal close relationships between major retailers and the cargo carriers that transport the companies’ consumer goods, and how that partnership showcases the immense possibilities for both sectors to jointly address the growing demand for zero-emissions cargo shipping. The findings will also reveal the cargo shipping routes favored by the four companies, the emissions impacts of those routes, and how U.S. port communities are being saddled with increasing rates of pollution thanks to the ongoing cargo shipping backlog.

WHEN: 5 a.m. PT / 8 a.m. ET, Monday, November 29, 2021

WHERE: The report will be published online at shipitzero.org

WHY: The global shipping industry accounts for 3% of global climate emissions, more than global air travel. If shipping were a country, it would be the world’s sixth largest climate polluter. Approximately 90% of the world trade is transported by sea, and current business-as-usual scenarios project emissions will grow up to 50% over 2018 levels. But since maritime shipping negotiated itself out of the U.N. Paris Agreement, the effort to reduce emissions in the industry has been slower than in other sectors.

Amid an ongoing global shipping crisis spurred by increased consumer demand fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, retail brands and cargo carriers have reported record-breaking profits. These pandemic-fueled demand increases and record-breaking profits, coupled with the supply chain crisis, has revealed the current maritime shipping system is ripe for transformation, and there is room for retail brands and cargo carriers to absorb the cost of the transition to fossil-free, zero-emissions shipping.

The message is starting to sink in, and new commitments from top retail companies and governments are putting pressure on the industry. At COP26, Amazon joined U.S. President Joe Biden’s First Movers Coalition to help commercialize emerging technologies to decarbonize heavy industries including ocean shipping and committed to moving at least 10% of its ocean freight on zero-emission ships by 2030. Also at COP26, governments and CEOs from around the world launched the Clydebank Declaration to establish green shipping corridors among some of the busiest maritime shipping routes. In October, Amazon and IKEA helped launch coZEV, a retail brand-led initiative to move 100% of their products off of fossil-fueled maritime cargo ships by 2040. 

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, U.S. Media Director, Stand.earth, +1 510 858 9902, media@stand.earth (PT)