Nike and Ocean Conservancy launched the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, inviting businesses and industry to join them in the commitment to not ship through the Arctic Ocean shipping routes.
As Arctic ice continues to diminish because of climate change, it opens the possibility of cargo traffic through ocean routes that were previously unnavigable. And though these routes can offer decreased transit times, increasing vessel traffic on Arctic shipping routes poses great risk and potentially devastating environmental impacts.
The Arctic plays an essential role in regulating global temperatures and counteracting climate change. Often referred to as “the world’s refrigerator,” the Arctic regulates temperatures worldwide.
However, climate change is heating the Arctic at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, causing severe community disruptions and changes to ecosystems relied upon by Arctic residents and the region’s iconic wildlife.
Additionally, shipping across the Arctic is dangerous and risky. The remote location, unpredictable weather conditions and largely uncharted waters are just a few factors that pose a grave risk in the event of an accident, stranding or oil spill. Such incidents could impact the sensitive ice-dependent ecosystems and irreversibly harm communities’ subsistence way of life.
The Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge invites companies to commit to not intentionally send ships through this fragile Arctic ecosystem. Today’s signatories include companies Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung, PVH Corp., and ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Through this pledge, Nike and Ocean Conservancy hope to inspire others in using their collective voices to help prevent a problem before it starts.
“At Nike, we exist to serve athletes. That means taking climate action through Move to Zero, Nike’s journey towards a zero carbon, zero waste future,” said Hilary Krane, EVP, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Nike, Inc. “We know climate change impacts how our athletes train and play, and whether they get to enjoy sport at all. Through this pledge, we’ve made a clear choice – to help protect the planet and preserve the Arctic.”
Global shipping currently accounts for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to Germany’s or Japan’s annual emissions, but is not included in the reduction commitments made by countries in the Paris Agreement.
“The dangers of trans-Arctic shipping routes outweigh all perceived benefits and we cannot ignore the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping on our ocean,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “Ocean Conservancy applauds Nike for recognizing the real bottom line here is a shared responsibility for the health of the Arctic—and believes the announcement will spur much-needed action to prevent risky Arctic shipping and hopes additional commitments to reduce emissions from global shipping will emerge.”
The signatories understand that current impacts to the Arctic are already so severe that additional threats from increased international shipping are unacceptable. The pledge also states that signers will continue to explore ways to reduce emissions from global shipping, and thus reduce the shipping sector’s contribution to melting Arctic sea ice habitat.
The signatories also support the development of precautionary Arctic shipping practices to enhance the environmental and human safety of current and potential future Arctic shipping. Ocean Conservancy is working on such rules and practices to protect the Arctic, including a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in this region and other strong shipping regulations such as addressing noise pollution.