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Climate Activists Protest IKEA's Shipping Emissions

protestors call for retailers to use zero-emission shipping
Protestors carried a mock shipping container (Stand.earth)

Published Oct 7, 2021 2:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

For the second time in a month, climate activists have protested at a major retailer to call attention to their demand that the retailing industry immediately transition to zero-emissions cargo vessels for their shipments. Led by environmental organizations Pacific Environment and Stand.earth, the Ship It Zero campaign is calling on some of the world’s largest retail companies and consumer goods manufacturers to take responsibility for the carbon emissions related to their shipments of goods.

Protestors with the Ship It Zero coalition gather at the headquarters and retail store of IKEA in Delft, Netherlands on October 7 to highlight their cause. Activists wearing Ship It Zero T-shirts held a model shipping container and handed out flyers that read “IKEA: Abandon Dirty Ships” to IKEA employees and shoppers. They staged “die-ins” and unfurled a petition that they said contains the signatures of 20,000 shoppers.

“We are demanding IKEA to invest in wind, batteries, and 100 percent renewable hydrogen-based fuels for its shipping. These are 100 percent carbon zero and are expected to become available by 2024. For prompt emission reduction they can demand ships slow their speed immediately,” said Nicole Caodie, action coordinator for Pacific Environment.

Last month the activists staged a similar protest at the headquarters of Amazon in Seattle, Washington. Simultaneously, at a press conference with a backdrop of the San Pedro port complex, the activists also called for immediate commitments by Amazon saying as “a main driver behind the changes in shopping patterns that clogging up U.S. ports,” the company must transition their products off of fossil-fueled ships.

These efforts are part of a broader campaign by the groups to use consumers to apply pressure on the large companies to take more direct responsibility for carbon emissions and actions to pressure the shipping industry to accelerate its moves to reduce emissions. In July, the Ship It Zero coalition released a report in which it highlighted 15 retailers, consumer goods, and food companies, saying they are emitting millions of tons of pollution from importing their goods into the United States on fossil-fueled cargo ships. They highlighted companies including Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Ikea, Amazon, Dole, Chiquita, Samsung, LG, and Nike as being top import polluters.

“IKEA and other major retail brands are the lynchpin in the massive, fossil-fueled ocean shipping industry, and can wield enormous power to transform this sector,” said Kendra Ulrich, Shipping Campaigns Director, Stand.earth. “The false climate solutions touted by the maritime industry, like carbon credits, biofuels, and LNG, are going to sink our livable future before we’ve even set sail. Corporate cargo customers like IKEA must step up to the leadership helm by taking immediate steps to reduce their maritime climate pollution and committing to zero-emissions shipping by 2030.”

Saying that zero emission options are expected to be on the water by 2024, the groups in the meantime are calling for retailers to take immediate steps to reduce emissions. Among the steps they are calling for is for retailers to use ships that are reducing speeds (referred to as slow-steaming) to lessen their emissions. In addition, the coalition says retailers should also be shipping only on vessels that do not burn heavy fuel oil and fossil gas (LNG) and prioritizing ports that offer onshore power to vessels to avoid idling ship engines while at berth.