Amazon, Ikea and Unilever pledge zero-carbon shipping by 2040
Nine big companies including Amazon, Ikea and Unilever have pledged to only move cargo on ships using zero-carbon fuel by 2040.
They say the "aggressive" target will help push the heavily-polluting shipping industry to decarbonise faster.
The industry produces one billion tonnes of climate pollution each year - as much as the country of Germany.
Yet plans to cut its emissions lag far behind Paris Agreement goals.
"Maritime shipping, like all sectors of the global economy, needs to decarbonise rapidly if we are to solve the climate crisis, and multinational companies will be key actors in catalysing a clean energy transition in shipping," said Dan Porterfield of the Aspen Institute, which is coordinating the campaign.
"We urge other cargo owners, value chain actors, and governments to join forces with us."
Companies pledging zero-carbon shipping by 2040
Inditex (owner of Zara)
With about 90% of world trade moving by sea, maritime shipping accounts for 3% of all global emissions. This could rise to 10% by 2050 if the industry continues to rely on carbon-intensive fuels, experts say.
The industry also produces 10-to-15% of the world's manufactured sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which can cause respiratory illness.
Under the Paris Agreement goals, the shipping industry must use zero-carbon fuels at scale by 2030, and be fully decarbonised by 2050, at the latest.
But the International Maritime Organization, shipping's global regulator, is currently working on a strategy that only requires the sector to cut emissions by 50% by 2050 compared with 2008 levels.
Greening the sector will not be easy given the long lifespan of maritime cargo vessels and the need to ramp up renewable energy production. But the Aspen Institute said the industry had also failed to invest enough in its transition.
Amazon, which has been criticised over the size of its carbon footprint, said it was "thrilled" to co-launch the initiative.
"The time to act is now and we welcome other cargo owner companies who want to lead on addressing climate change to join us in collaboration," said Edgar Blanco, director of net-zero carbon at Amazon.
Michelle Grose, head of logistics at Unilever, said: "By signalling our combined commitment to zero-emission shipping, we are confident that we will accelerate the transition at the pace and the scale that is needed."
Logistics accounts for 15% of the consumer goods group's total greenhouse gas emissions and Unilever said it was was "encouraging our existing carriers to switch to cleaner fuels".