Amazon ditches shipping, climate commitments

Business Insider has reported that Amazon has ditched part of its climate pledge and deleted its blog post that announced the Shipment Zero initiative. 

Instead of continuing to target to make all of its shipments net zero carbon, with 50% of all shipments net zero by 2030, Amazon has ditched this commitment and rolled broader goals into its “Climate Pledge” — with a goal to reach net zero carbon across all its operations by 2040, which according to Business Insider is a decade later than the 50% “Shipment Zero” goal. 

Shipping emissions are a significant source of scope 3 carbon emissions, which are defined as those resulting from activities not owned or controlled by a company. Bold steps toward shipping decarbonization are necessary for any retailer to become emission-free.

According to the University of Washington, Amazon shipped an estimated 7.7 billion packages globally, based on its nearly US$470 billion in sales in 2021. If each of these packages were a 1-foot square box and they were stacked on top of one another, the pile would be six times higher than the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Backing down on its shipping and climate commitments is a significant and worrying prospect. 

“We are disappointed to learn that Amazon has ditched their shipping commitments and watered down their Climate Pledge,” said Eric Leveridge, Ship It Zero Lead, Pacific Environment. 

“Amazon is uniquely situated to be a climate leader at a time when we need it the most, and committing to concrete interim goals are necessary to spur change.We call on Amazon to recommit to cleaning up its shipping act, and commit to zero-emissions ocean shipping by 2030.”

Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Campaigns Director for, said: “We are concerned to hear that Amazon is backing off its previous commitments to cleaning up shipping throughout its operation, including ocean shipping. 

“We need big retailers to increase their targets to achieve 100% zero-emission shipping by 2030.  Not back off of their previous commitments. They must act now and rapidly clean up shipping to ensure a healthier, cleaner tomorrow for our communities and our oceans and we fully intend to hold any retailer accountable that strays from this path.” 

The global shipping industry accounts for 3% of global climate emissions, more than global air travel. If shipping were a country, it would be the world’s sixth largest climate polluter. But since maritime shipping negotiated itself out of the U.N. Paris Agreement, the effort to reduce emissions in the industry has been slower than in other sectors.

Approximately 90% of the world trade is transported by sea, and current business-as-usual scenarios project emissions will grow up to 50% over 2018 levels. While the International Maritime Organization noted increased ship size and operational improvements aimed at creating better fuel efficiency have resulted in a decrease in emissions intensity, annual absolute emissions are still increasing.

Photo credit: iStock/ Suphanat Khumsap

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