Amazon, Ikea and Unilever are among the largest users of the shipping industry. File Image / Pixabay
A group of nine firms including Amazon and Ikea have pledged to use only ships running on zero-carbon fuels to move their goods around the world from 2040.
The nine companies -- Amazon, Brooks Sports, Frog Bikes, Ikea, Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Tchibo and Unilever -- have joined the Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels group set up by US-based NGO the Aspen Institute, the organisation said in a press release on Tuesday.
The commitment goes well beyond the current IMO target of halving shipping's emissions from 2008's levels by 2050. Some are currently pushing the IMO towards a net zero CO2 target by 2050, but progress on this has been slow.
"Today we announce that we are targeting steep reductions and eventual elimination of the climate impact of our ocean freight globally," the group said in the statement.
"By 2040, we aim to only purchase ocean freight services powered by scalable zero-carbon fuels, a timeframe that is squarely aligned with a Paris Agreement 1.5°C trajectory."
The group defines zero-carbon fuels as being those that have zero greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis, are sufficiently scalable to decarbonise the entire shipping industry and for which safety and land use concerns have been addressed. The statement explicitly excludes LNG as an option.
The companies have the following aims towards the 2040 target, according to the statement:
Establish ambitious interim milestones toward 2040
Support collaborative projects that reflect the urgent need to act now
Track our maritime transportation emissions
Explore further opportunities to expand the group of cargo owners engaged in maritime decarbonization
Bring together our collective freight demand to accelerate the transition to zero-carbon maritime shipping and target early decarbonization of the first transoceanic trade routes
Amazon, Ikea and Unilever are among the largest users of the shipping industry, and their commitment may have a significant impact on demand for alternative bunker fuels in the coming decades.
Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk may be one of the early beneficiaries of the announcement, with plans already in progress for its first zero-carbon vessel to enter service in 2023.
"To be able to respond to this pledge and aim to decarbonize these leading companies' supply chains, we at Maersk will continue our efforts to boost and grow the production of green fuels like methanol and ammonia," Soren Skou, CEO of Maersk, said in a LinkedIn post.