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The New Amazon Net-Zero Carbon Pledge focuses on Ocean Freight While Shipping Giants go after Alternative Fuel Source

The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) states that one billion tons of carbon emissions are yearly attributed to Marine Shipping. Companies that have pledged to go zero carbon emission by 2040 include Amazon and Ikea. According to CATF, new and alternative sources of fuel are required such as marine ammonia. Also, the transition from fossil fuels would require an intense global collaboration.

The CATF together with Aspen Institute worked collectively to accelerate a marketplace for zero-carbon freight amongst the world’s largest cargo ship owners. This was announced on Tuesday, excluding cargo companies, inclusive of consumer-facing companies such as Patagonia, Brooks Running, Inditex, Unilever, Michelin, Tchibo, and Frog Bikes. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2018 set an initial goal of curbing carbon emissions from international ocean freight by at least 50-percent by 2050.

According to CATF research, in order for the IMO to reach its stipulated target a massive part of International Freight fleet would have to transition to net-zero carbon fuels. CATF cited ammonia as a plausible option for marine, even though ammonia is 3 to 7 times more costly than the conventional marine fuel options. Research suggests that liquefied natural gas as transition, however, only during the transition phase and small-scale nuclear on-vessel as an unexplored option in the near future. It estimated that the ships could switch to LNG use for a 15 percent carbon reduction but that figure is subjected to methane leakage being reduced well below the existing level.

Johnathon Lewis, director of Transportation Decarbonization at CATF stated “ in order to combat the climate crisis, we must rapidly decarbonize marine shipping”. The CATF mentioned in its research that the U.S is responsible for 80 million CO2 emissions, a figure that is consistently increasing. In order for the U.S shipping fleet to meet the IMO 2050 deadline, the use of marine ammonia needs to reach a high of at least 47 million tons. CATF proposed making marine ammonia from renewables, green ammonia, nuclear power and even carbon capture and storage operations in industries including fossil fuels (blue ammonia). With that being said they noted that it’s a long road ahead to make marine ammonia a reality. The existing ammonia production has a carbon footprint mostly from the fertilizer industry.

As at march 2021, many major cargo companies comprising Maersk, Fleet Management Limited, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Sumitomo Corporation and Yara International started studying green ammonia supply chain at the Port of Singapore. Zero carbon emitting ammonia has been a long standing consideration as one of the most promising alternative marine fuel option to curb greenhouse emissions. Thus far, it is ambiguous as to which measures could achieve the targeted reductions by the IMO. It is however, unlikely to be achieved solely by technological means. The CATF said this shift has to be a global collaborative effort.

The IMO implemented a mandatory data collection system fir fuel oil consumption of ships in March 2018, and by 2025 has set a goal of new ships being 30 percent more energy efficient than the ones in 2014. Amazon, in the last few years has amped up its efforts to reduce carbon footprint while also taking control of its massive logistical operations. In 2019, they unveiled their pledge to adhere to the Paris Climate treaty by the means of renewable energy and new transportation technology, such as electric delivery vehicles, 10 years ahead of the Paris timeline.

Rivian electric vehicle maker is amongst the most notable carbon-free tranportation investments made, which has raised billions from its venture investors including Amazon. They plan on accquiring 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian and, by 2020, Amazon said it had already delivered over 20 million packages using electric vehicles. The retail giant rolled out its custom electric delivery vehicles earlier this year and says it will have 10,000 vehicles on the road by 2022. Amazon’s own logistics footprint has grown in recent years to inclusive of direct competition with third-party shipping service . By 2028, Amazon is predicted to acquire 200 airplanes for its freight needs.