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Aspen Institute Launches coZEV Initiative with Major Corporations to Support Zero-Carbon Shipping

Through a new collaborative, cargo owner-led network facilitated by the Aspen Institute, a group of climate-forward brands have announced a first-of-its-kind target to progressively switch all of their ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels by 2040. Amazon, Brooks Running, Frog Bikes, IKEA, Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Tchibo, and Unilever are the first signatories to a 2040 ambition statement facilitated by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV). This ambition statement sends an important demand signal to the maritime value chain and bunker fuel producers that freight customers want zero-carbon shipping and they expect the industry to rapidly accelerate its decarbonization efforts in the years ahead. It also signals new interest by public-facing and climate-leading consumer goods companies and retailers to work collaboratively, deploy their capacities for innovation, and drive economies of scale to foster an economically viable marketplace for zero-carbon shipping.

“The coZEV initiative represents an historic step in the fight against climate change, with its bold ambition to harness corporate climate leadership to accelerate decarbonization of the global maritime shipping industry,” said Ingrid Irigoyen, Director of the Aspen Institute Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, which facilitates the coZEV effort. “Maritime shipping has long been a major producer of climate and air pollution, and attempts to transition away from fossil fuels have faced significant hurdles, including a perceived lack of freight customer demand that has stifled investment and scalability of potential solutions. By setting an aggressive target today, a group of leaders is changing the conversation. And this is just the start, we expect this movement among climate-leading companies to grow rapidly. This will allow us to drive economies of scale, innovation, and a surge of confidence among investors and value-chain actors that there is a business opportunity in doing the right thing.”

“The coZEV network is changing the conversation about climate solutions in maritime shipping—and beyond,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of Aspen Institute. “Maritime shipping, like all sectors of the global economy, needs to decarbonize rapidly if we are to solve the climate crisis, and multinational companies will be key actors in catalyzing a clean energy transition in shipping. We applaud the coZEV 2040 ambition statement signatories for their leadership, and we urge other cargo owners, value chain actors, and governments to join forces with us.”

Today, maritime shipping powered by heavy fuel oil produces 1 billion tonnes of climate pollution each year — as much as a G7 country or all of America’s coal-fired power plants combined. Maritime shipping currently accounts for 3 percent of all global emissions, and could rise to 10 percent by 2050 if the industry continues to rely on carbon-intensive fuels. Maritime shipping also produces 10-to-15 percent of the world’s manufactured sulfur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which disproportionately impact low income communities of color living near ports. As a result, maritime shipping emissions are linked to an estimated 6.4 million global childhood asthma cases and 260,000 premature deaths annually. To mitigate these negative impacts and align with Paris Agreement goals, the maritime shipping industry must transition to zero-carbon fuels by the mid-2020s, use them at scale by 2030, and be fully decarbonized by 2050, at the latest.

“With the urgent need for large-scale decarbonization efforts across harder-to-abate sectors like maritime shipping, the coZEV network comes at a pivotal time in the conversation surrounding climate change,” said Greg Gershuny, Executive Director of Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program. “The demands of our global economy have grown over the last year, even as public understanding of the negative impact shipping emissions have on our environment grows as well. The coZEV network is the first collaborative effort of maritime freight customers to motivate the rest of the maritime value chain to invest in zero-carbon shipping. coZEV is also unique in its ability to harness cargo owner voices to call on policymakers at various levels to support this essential clean energy transition in shipping. Maritime shipping is the lifeblood of global commerce, and it must come into alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Policymakers should enact measures that can make zero-carbon shipping competitive with fossil fuels as soon as possible.”

While sending demand signals for zero-carbon shipping is essential to kick-start this transition, companies working with coZEV also recognize that market forces alone will not bring these solutions to scale. For this reason, signatories to the 2040 Ambition Statement are also calling on policymakers around the world to take swift and ambitious action to advance maritime shipping decarbonization — in their domestic, regional, and international leadership capacities. Currently, the International Maritime Organization, shipping’s global regulator, is working under a draft greenhouse gas strategy for shipping that only requires the sector to reduce its absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Given the long lifespan of maritime cargo vessels and the need to ramp up renewable energy production to support zero-carbon fuel supply chains around the world, the transition must accelerate rapidly. This announcement is intended to heighten a sense of urgency and increase confidence in the investment opportunity presented by zero-carbon shipping.

To that end, coZEV plans to work with a network of action-oriented cargo owner companies, which includes but is not limited to initial signatories of this 2040 Ambition Statement. Through coZEV, companies will be able to come together to help establish the first zero-carbon maritime transportation corridors; give policymakers confidence to enact measures that will lower the cost of the zero-carbon transition; and harness the vast collective creativity, market power, bias for action, and investment capacity of some of the most innovative companies and organizations on Earth.

“Whether or not shipping will decarbonize is no longer a debate. The question is rather how quickly we can get our collective act together, and which supply chain actors and nations will be poised to harness the vast business opportunity this transition represents,” concluded Irigoyen.
Source: The Aspen Institute

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