New research released by Stand.earth and Pacific Environment takes an in-depth look at Walmart, Target, Amazon, and IKEA, and maps their relationships with the fossil-fueled cargo carriers they hire to transport their goods.
he analysis shows the routes favored by the four companies, the emissions impacts of those routes, and how the ongoing cargo shipping backlog has saddled U.S. port communities with increasing rates of pollution.
Retail companies can choose to be industry leaders and early adopters of zero-emissions technology, or they can put short-term profit over public health and the climate by making empty commitments that put off action on climate change until it’s too late
said Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Campaigns Director at Stand.earth.
West coast shipping routes
The report reveals the Transpacific routes between China and the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Seattle, and Tacoma were the largest share of the combined carbon emissions of the four companies, accounting for an estimated 21% of emissions between 2018-2020.
The use of these Transpacific routes presents particular problems for West Coast port communities saddled with increasing rates of pollution, thanks to the constant presence of ships idling nearby. This is especially true in Seattle and Tacoma in Washington state, where imports were up over 40% in 2020 versus 2019, fueled by the backlog at California ports.
Target and Amazon have played an outsized role in the current congestion and pollution crisis at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. As Target faces a swell of demand in places like California and a doubling of its digital sales, and as Amazon increases its control over its own gas-guzzling shipment and parcel delivery, it is past time to hold these retailers accountable for their responsibilities at the ports
urges Dawny’all Heydari, Ship It Zero Campaign Lead at Pacific Environment.
On the other hand, the research found IKEA is increasingly transporting goods from China to Europe via rail routes, then on cargo ships from Europe to East or Gulf Coast ports, as part of a strategy to reduce the company’s carbon emissions from its shipping.
Cargo carrier relationships
The report also reveals strong relationships between Walmart, Target, Amazon, and IKEA and the world’s 15 largest cargo carriers, and how that partnership showcases possibilities for both sectors to address the increasing demand for zero-emissions cargo shipping.
The top 15 carriers account for 97% of the total emissions in the report, indicating these four retail giants depend almost exclusively on the same cargo carriers.
There are no longer any excuses left to set goals to meet zero emissions for 2030. Retail companies looking to achieve climate goals must engage with cargo carriers that will give them zero-emission freight options to get their goods to market
believes Madeline Rose, Climate Campaign Director at Pacific Environment.
Walmart, the number one importer of goods in the U.S., topped the report with the highest volumes traded and the most emissions.
The study also reveals Walmart depends heavily on one ocean carrier, CMA CGM, which accounted for more than two thirds of Walmart’s ocean shipping emissions in 2020 and one third of the ocean shipping emissions across all four companies.
Shipping’s pollution problem
At COP26, Amazon joined the First Movers Coalition to help commercialize emerging technologies to decarbonize heavy industries including ocean shipping, and committed to moving 10% of its freight on zero-emissions ships by 2030.
Also at COP26, governments and CEOs launched the Clydebank Declaration to establish green shipping corridors among some of the busiest maritime shipping routes. And in October, Amazon and IKEA helped launch coZEV, a retailer-led initiative to move 100% of products off of fossil-fueled maritime cargo ships by 2040.
Reducing, and ultimately eliminating, maritime emissions will not happen without bold commitments and concrete actions from the companies paying for cargo carriers to transport their goods. The retail brands that fill our homes and lives with their products bear a direct responsibility for the pollution their supply chains create, and for taking the necessary actions to demand a transition to zero-emissions shipping this decade
concludes Kendra Ulrich.