COP26: Ship It Zero coalition welcomes Amazon participation in First Movers Coalition

Thursday November 04, 2021

Stand.earth, Pacific Environment say company sends important market signal for clean ocean shipping, but warn coalition is short on details

GLASGOW — Today at COP26, Amazon joined the White House’s First Movers Coalition, a public-private partnership launched by U.S. President Joe Biden and the World Economic Forum to commercialize emerging technologies essential to decarbonizing heavy industries, including ocean shipping. Climate and shipping experts with environmental advocacy groups Stand.earth and Pacific Environment, which lead the Ship It Zero coalition, welcomed retail giant Amazon’s participation in the First Movers Coalition.

The move by Amazon to join the First Movers Coalition adds to a recent spate of climate action for one of the world’s biggest companies. Last week, Amazon announced its second round of investment in Infinium to bring its green hydrogen-based electrofuel technology for maritime freight to market. Earlier this month, the retail giant also announced a landmark commitment to move their products off fossil fuel ships by 2040, joining companies including IKEA, Unilever, and Patagonia. Ship It Zero called Amazon’s 2040 commitment “historic but too weak” as the coalition is demanding movement on zero-emissions cargo shipping this decade — a shorter timeline that was echoed today by members of the First Movers Coalition.

Ship It Zero said the First Movers Coalition has potential, particularly since it sets targets for action this decade, by 2030. Ship It Zero also said that participation by companies like Amazon sends an important market signal that there are major brands throughout the world willing to make commitments now on zero-emissions technologies. Ship It Zero is also encouraged that several companies reiterated their commitment to green hydrogen-based fuels as a key part of the solution to decarbonizing heavy industries like cargo shipping, over fossil-based options like gray and blue hydrogen. 

But Ship It Zero also warned the coalition is light on details and leaves room for false solutions, calling for concrete actions and steps including how and when retail companies will negotiate and sign contracts to switch to shipping their products on zero-emissions cargo shipping vessels, not just “low-carbon” options.

“The First Movers Coalition could be a game changer for companies like Amazon, which must move quickly to help decarbonize the massively polluting cargo shipping sector. Making commitments today might feel like a big risk, but the bigger risk is being left behind and facing market competition for clean energy and green solutions later on. The world is changing, and companies know that addressing climate change is a business imperative. Failing to respond NOW puts companies at greater risk down the road,” said Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Campaigns Director at Stand.earth. “The First Movers Coalition presents a massive moment for companies like Amazon to show leadership, but we need Amazon to step up its ambition and make a commitment to transport all of its goods on zero-emissions cargo ships by 2030, not by 2040 like its previous commitment. There is urgency in this moment, and Amazon must follow through by taking action within this decade to ensure their future success in a climate sustainable future.”

“Amazon’s actions to spur clean maritime technologies are steps in the right direction; however, a much faster timeline is required. Amazon must immediately commit to 100% zero-emissions ocean cargo shipping this decade. Right now, over a hundred fossil-fueled ships are clogging California ports, harming frontline communities with unprecedented levels of cancer-causing air pollution. Amazon has a responsibility to end its port pollution now,” said Dawny’all Heydari, Ship It Zero Campaign Lead, Pacific Environment.

ABOUT SHIP IT ZERO 

These steps come just three months after the launch of the Ship It Zero campaign and release of its Shady Shipsreport, the first study to quantify the climate and public health impacts from some of the biggest American retailers’ reliance on overseas manufacturing and fossil-fueled, transoceanic shipping, including Amazon. Environmental groups Pacific Environment and Stand.earth, which lead the Ship It Zero campaign and its 20,000 supporters, are calling on major retail brands to take immediate action to reduce their climate and health-harming maritime pollution and switch entirely to zero-emissions ships by 2030.

More than 50,000 merchant ships carry around 80% of global trade, and oceangoing cargo volumes are projected to grow by as much as 130% by 2050. Every single merchant ship in operation right now runs on fossil fuels, but zero emissions vessels are expected to be on the water by 2024. Retailers can immediately reduce their climate and health-harming emissions from maritime shipping through reducing ship speeds (referred to as slow-steaming), shipping only on vessels that do not burn highly polluting heavy fuel oil and fossil gas (LNG), and prioritizing ports that offer onshore power to vessels to avoid idling ship engines while at berth. 

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Media contacts

Gwen Dobbs, Pacific Environment, gdobbs@pacificenvironment.org, +1 202 329 9295 (EST) 

Virginia Cleaveland, Stand.earth, +1 510 858 9902, media@stand.earth (PST)