A group of nine international companies, members of, including Amazon, Unilever, IKEA, and Inditex, announced today an inaugural commitment to transition their ocean freight to zero-carbon shipping by 2040, a time frame that is aligned with a Paris Agreement 1.5°C trajectory.

The companies are members of The Cargo Owners for Zero-Emission Vessels (coZEV), a platform for climate-forward cargo owners to develop concrete collaborative projects to advance zero-carbon solutions. The platform was initiated by the Aspen Shipping Decarbonization Initiative (SDI), which was launched last year by the Energy and Environment Program (EEP).

esg playbook

The CoZEV partners, which also include Brooks, Frog Bikes, Michelin, Patagonia, and Tchibo stated that by focusing on the decarbonization of this part of their supply chain, they are hoping to inspire a surge in investment by ocean freight carriers and producers of zero-carbon shipping fuels.

As companies globally increasingly aim to reduce the climate impact of their supply chains, the sustainability profile of ocean shipping is coming under growing scrutiny. According to the European Maritime Safety Agency, shipping accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to air pollution close to coastal areas and ports.

To reach their ambitions, the companies plan to work with ocean freight carriers that are maximizing energy efficiency through operational and technical measures and have clear plans to upscale zero-carbon fuels in their operations. In addition, the companies also plan to work with third-party logistics providers.

The group outlined some of the specific areas they will need to work across, both individually and collectively, including establishing interim milestones towards the 2040 goal, supporting collaborative projects, tracking their maritime transportations emissions, exploring opportunities to expand the group of cargo owners, and bringing together their collective demand to accelerate the transition to zero-carbon maritime shipping.

The companies are also calling on policymakers to align the shipping industry with goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, including setting shipping decarbonization goals, deploying regulations and measures, that set shipping’s operational and GHG emissions on a Paris-aligned trajectory, stimulating the deployment of associated new fuels, and technologies, enable zero-carbon shipping fuels to become competitive with fossil fuels as soon as possible and to scale up clean energy capacity globally so it can serve as the primary feedstock for new zero-carbon shipping fuels.