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New report condemns ocean shipping emissions of top U.S. importers

08 March 2023

The top U.S. importers annually release several million tons of greenhouse gases via sea transport. A new report therefore calls on giants such as Walmart, Home Depot, Target and IKEA to use their power to accelerate shipping's fuel transition. The researchers believe that goods should never even be transported by LNG-powered ships.

During the pandemic, a shopping explosion was created in the United States, and Walmart, Home depot, Target, IKEA, NIKE, Samsung, LG, Amazon and nine more companies in the retail trade becoming the country's top emitters of greenhouse gases. Together, they released 3.5 million tons via the shipping of 4.7 million containers that reached the United States by sea on 1,650 ships. This corresponds roughly to the carbon dioxide emissions from 754,000 cars over the course of a year. At the same time, ships spewed enough smog-forming nitrogen oxide to equal the annual emissions of seven coal-fired power plants. This is according to the report All Brands On Deck: Top Furniture, Fashion, Retail & Technology Companies Must Act to Abandon Dirty Ships, which was produced by the research group and Pacific Environment and which is part of the Ship it zero campaign.

“Ship It Zero’s latest report shows us that Walmart and Home Depot, in particular, are neglecting their responsibilities to extend their climate commitments to the seas and do right by U.S. port communities. Consumers overwhelmingly want their goods shipped on zero-emission ships and have reported that they’d move their business to companies with a cleaner ocean-climate footprint. We urge Walmart, Home Depot and all companies that continue to rely on fossil-fueled ocean freight services to abandon dirty ships now and compete to put their goods on the world’s first zero-emission vessels”, said Madeleine Rose, the report's lead author in connection with the publication.

Of the 18 companies analysed, three – Walmart, Home Depot and Target – account for the majority of emissions (64 per cent) and Walmart and Home Depot are heavily criticized for having no public commitments to zero-emissions ocean shipping. According to the report current 2040 commitments from Target, Amazon, IKEA and others are too late – the goal of fossil-free sea transport must be set for 2030.

LNG (natural gas), which many see as a transition fuel, is also condemned by the report. The fact that hundreds of LNG ship builds are in the world's order books waiting to be built risks making shipping dependent on fossil fuels for decades. However, the development can be stopped by the big companies and the researchers urge them to clearly communicate that they do not intend to transport their goods on LNG ships in the future.

Ship It Zero is a climate and public health campaign to move the world’s largest companies to 100% zero-emissions ocean shipping. It urges companies such as Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, Target and IKEA — to transition to 100% zero-emissions cargo shipping vessels by 2030. This ​​goal will ensure the shipping industry does its fair share in helping to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target scientists say is needed to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

To the report

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