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Net zero: Full steam ahead

22 October, 2021

This week brought a new wave of net zero pledges, but quite different than those we have grown accustomed to.

Seven companies, including Amazon, Inditex (owner of Zara), Ikea and Unilever, have committed to using zero emissions shipping by 2040, with a particular emphasis on using fuels that are themselves zero or low carbon.

Seeing big international consumer facing groups commit to net zero shipping will help spur efforts to decarbonise the shipping sector, which is often overlooked as a significant source of carbon emissions. Shipping is often the go-to solution for low carbon transport, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere (today, shipping accounts for between 1.7% and 2.9% of global emissions).

These commitments may lead to billions of dollars invested to decarbonise shipping. If major customers are committing to net zero shipping, shipping companies are likely to invest into new fleets that can run on greener fuels not only sound investments for the planet, but soon to be necessary investments for longer term business success too. And green energy companies will need to increasingly scale their production of green and blue hydrogen or methanol, or biofuels, to cater to these new fleets.

If we want to be net zero by 2050 all sectors have to play their part not just the obvious carbon villains, so it is great to see the shipping sector sailing full steam ahead.

By Marie Guérinet

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