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New Report Reveals Ocean Shipping Emissions of Top U.S. Importers

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2303
March 1, 2023

The top U.S. importers emitted 3.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from shipping during the height of the pandemic-driven imports surge in 2021, according to new research released today by the Ship It Zero campaign.

The research reveals that Walmart, Target and Home Depot were the largest ocean import polluters in 2021 due to increased demand for e-commerce.

The report examines the biggest companies importing goods into the U.S., including Amazon, IKEA, LG Electronics, Nike, Target, and Walmart. It shows that the retailers emitted 3.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through importing goods into the U.S. by sea, equivalent to the emissions of 400,000 U.S. homes.

The report also highlights the ports most affected by imports and the communities facing increasing rates of pollution and health risks.

Ship It Zero is a coalition of organizations urging some of the largest companies in the world to achieve zero-emissions shipping by 2030. The report calls on major U.S. importers across sectors to make more near-term annual commitments to abandon dirty ships this decade.

“Ship It Zero’s latest report shows us that Walmart and Home Depot, in particular, are neglecting their responsibilities to extend their climate commitments to the seas and do right by U.S. port communities,” said Madeline Rose, Climate Campaign Director at Pacific Environment. “Consumers overwhelmingly want their goods shipped on zero-emission ships and have reported that they’d move their business to companies with a cleaner ocean-climate footprint. We urge Walmart, Home Depot and all companies that continue to rely on fossil-fueled ocean freight services to abandon dirty ships now and compete to put their goods on the world’s first zero-emission vessels.”

Brands

Out of the eighteen companies analyzed, Walmart, Target and Home Depot contributed the majority of climate and air pollution from ocean shipping in 2021, whether Nitrous Oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM), or carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

LG and Samsung are the top ship polluters in the technology industry sector, accounting for 309,000 and 217,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 5.9 and 4.2 metric tons of methane on voyages to the U.S. in 2021, respectively.

Nike ranked at the top polluter out of the fashion companies analyzed, responsible for 87,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2021.

Ports

The report finds that, out of the companies analyzed, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled over 40% of imports by TEUs and represented 35.5% of total carbon emissions created through maritime imports. The Ports of Seattle, Tacoma and the Northwest Seaport Alliance handled some of the cleanest, least carbon intensive imports, suggesting that they are well-positioned to lead the U.S. in establishing green shipping corridors.

The Port of Savannah handled the most retail containers on the East Coast, but had the second-highest carbon intensity per container of any port in 2021, after Houston.

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