Container giants urged to invest billions in emission reduction

A week after Amazon in the UK announced sweeping measurers to cut its carbon footprint one climate campaign group says the billions of dollars that are generated by the online giant’s “Prime Day” should be invested in cutting the maritime sector’s emission levels.

Seas at Risk explained: “Amazon Prime Day promises not only cheap deals for millions of consumers worldwide but also a bump in demand for transporting goods overseas.

“With billions of dollars made in profits on cheap, fossil-fuelled ships, global container shipping lines must take responsibility for their environmental impacts and urgently ramp up investments in their zero-emission transition.”

It added container ships transport around 90% of all traded goods worldwide, with business booming since the COVID-19 crisis. Shipping companies have been charging higher rates as consumers demand more shipped goods as a result of the pandemic.

Maritime consultancy, Drewry estimated that cargo lines made a record-breaking $190 billion last year, more than Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Netflix combined,  and are set to top it with profits of up to $200 billion in 2022.

“At the same time, the industry is decades behind achieving its own climate target (a 50% emissions cut by 2050) and nowhere near phasing out emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, according to think-tank Nordic West,” added the climate group.

Ocean ships are estimated to emit around 1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year. This is equal to the emissions of major economies, such as Japan or Germany.

Seas at Risk said Prime Day is driving this increased flow of consumer goods. An estimated 255 million items were sold during Prime Day 2021, up from 240 million in 2020 and 175 million in 2019.

Seas at Risk added: “Many technologies exist today to immediately bring down shipping emissions, and alternative, zero-emission fuels are emerging.

“The Global Maritime Forum estimates that it would take on average $70 billion to $95 billion in annual investment in zero-emission fuels and propulsion over 20 years for shipping to meet the 2050 decarbonisation trajectory of the Paris Agreement.

“With more than double this amount already in their pockets for 2022, container lines must pay up and kick-off their zero-emission transition today or face an unliveable future.”

It has demanded the biggest 10 container carriers to invest a minimum of $95 billion of this year’s mega-profits in kick-starting their own upgrade to zero-emission propulsion.

Lucy Gilliam, Seas at Risk, added: “Amazon Prime Day is more like Amazon Crime Day. Some of the world’s richest corporations are making even more money, without paying a cent for the environmental, health and social damage they cause. Given how many billions they have already made quietly on the back of a global pandemic, the time is up for greedy boys making excuses or playing stupid. With $95 billion a year, gigantic container lines can kick-off their much needed zero-emission transition and clean up the mess they have created. Saving the planet should be worth all your profits.”

Ocean ships are estimated to emit around 1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year. This is equal to the emissions of major economies, such as Japan or Germany.

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