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Nine major companies including Amazon, Ikea and Unilever have signed up to a pledge to only move cargo on ships using zero-carbon fuel by 2040. 

They hope the “aggressive” target will push the heavily-polluting shipping industry to decarbonise faster. 

Currently, shipping accounts for 3% of all global emissions, reports the BBC. However, this could rise to 10% by 2050 if the industry does not change its fuelling.

Scalable fuels

The FT reports that the group of companies – which also includes Zara owner Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Brooks Running, Frog Bikes and Tchibo – said fuels used to hit the target must be scalable and have zero greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis including production.

The companies’ initiative rules out using liquid natural gas as a fuel and aims to speed up plans backed by the UN’s International Maritime Organization, which set a target in 2018 to cut the sector’s emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 2008 levels.

Splash 247 reports that the new coalition is called the Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV).

Faster transition

Edgar Blanco, director, net-zero carbon at Amazon, said: “The time to act is now and we welcome other cargo owner companies who want to lead on addressing climate change to join us in collaboration.”

Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, sustainability manager supply chain operations at Ikea, added: “We need to speed up the transformation towards zero emission ocean shipping. By collaborating with like-minded partners, companies and organisations across the value chain we can create strong movements.”

As covered in the IOE& IT Daily Update, the shipping industry is looking at options to decarbonise, including the possibility of a carbon levy.

The biggest shipping company in the world, Maersk, is to invest £1bn in carbon neutral ship reported Lloyds Loading List.

$3tn price tag

The cost of the shipping industry switching to new forms of power will be huge, according to Market Watch, which quotes shipping-services provider Clarkson Research Services’ estimate that it may cost more than $3 trillion.

Cargo shipping produces one billion tonnes of climate pollution each year – as much as Germany. It also produces 10-to-15% of the world’s manufactured sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which can cause respiratory illness.