The UN’s International Maritime Association reported in 2020 that the shipping industry — the ships moving freight between the continents — accounts for 2.89% of annual global CO2 emissions. Between 1990 and 2020, shipping volumes “more than doubled,” according to Statista, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping grew faster, at as much as 16.4% a year, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. Meet Eric Leveridge, the Pacific Environment Lead at Ship It Zero, a nonprofit coalition of environmental, public health, and shipping experts. The organization reports that the shipping emissions of just 15 retail companies, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon, and Target, are responsible for 12.7 million tons of CO2 and as much particulate pollution as the entire U.S. mining industry.
Eric also digs into recent news that Amazon reversed its Climate Pledge commitment that would have made half of its shipping emissions-free by 2030. As reported by Business Insider, Amazon’s reason was, “We realized that it no longer made sense to have a separate and more narrow Shipment Zero goal that applied to only one part of our business, so we’ve decided to eliminate it.” Ship It Zero called on Amazon to reinstate its 50% net-zero shipping goals.
Shipping has many routes to lower emissions, including the use of hydrogen- or ammonia-based fuels, augmenting engines with wind power, and the addition of emissions scrubbing technology that captures and sequesters carbon, sulfur oxide, and nitrous oxide emissions instead of letting them escape into the atmosphere. Eric joins us to explore the challenge of lowering retailers’ shipping-related emissions and tell us about Ship It Zero’s recommendations.
You can learn more at shipitzero.org, which features several helpful e-books for those who want to read up on shipping emissions and pollution.