More companies ranging from consumer goods to shipping lines are pledging to not ship goods through the Arctic even as melting sea ice opens makes the polar routes more appealing.
This week, the non-profit Ocean Conservancy announced that eight more companies have pledged not to use the Arctic routes by signing the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, a voluntary commitment launched by Ocean Conservancy and retail giant Nike in October 2019 to not send ships through the fragile Arctic environment.
The new signatories include Ralph Lauren Corporation, Kuehne + Nagel, PUMA, International Direct Packaging, Allbirds, Aritzia, Hudson Shipping Lines and Bureo, according to the Ocean Conservancy.
The companies join others that have already taken the pledge including Nike, Asos, Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung, and PVH Corp. as well as ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company.
The commitment comes as a warming Arctic reduced sea ice to its second-lowest summer extent on record in 2019, extending the summer shipping season and resulting in a record amount of cargo – mostly oil and gas – being shipped through the region. The two most famous routes, the Northwest Passage through Canada and the Northern Sea Route (NSR) along Russia‘s northern coast, are favored because of the significantly shorter transit times between Asia, Europe, and North America.
The pledge also recognizes the shipping industry’s role in contributing to climate change, since it is estimated that ocean shipping accounts for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Signers, therefore, have pledged to continue to explore ways to reduce their emissions.
“While recognizing that local and regional shipping is vital to northern communities and indigenous communities, the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge invites companies to not intentionally route ships or send goods through the region as part of a potential new global trans-shipment route. These new signatories reflect a significant intention by consumer and logistics industries, including brands like Ralph Lauren Corporation, which operates more than 500 stores worldwide, and PUMA, which distributes products to more than 120 countries. Logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel alone shipped more than 4.7 million containers in 2018,” the Ocean Conservancy said.