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NGOs Pacific Environment and Stand.earth claim that their newly-published Shady Ships report is the first study to ‘quantify the environmental and public health impacts’ of American retailers’ ‘reliance on overseas manufacturing and fossil-fueled, transoceanic shipping’.

In a statement issued yesterday (20 July) Stand.earth said the report has found that: ‘Just fifteen companies are responsible for as much sulphur oxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate matter pollution as tens of millions of vehicles and the climate pollution equivalent to 1.5 million homes.’

Stand.earth said that, by cross referencing cargo manifests with a dataset on individual ship emissions, researchers were able to ‘estimate the pollution associated with each unit of cargo on discrete shipping routes and, for the first time, assign those emissions to retail companies’.

According to Stand.earth, Walmart alone was ‘responsible for 3.7 million metric tons of climate pollution from its shipping practices in 2019, more than an entire coal-fired power plant emits in a year’. Target, IKEA, Amazon, and 11 more of ‘the biggest American retailers’ were also included in the study.

Madeline Rose, Climate Campaign Director for Pacific Environmentm, commented: ‘Major retail companies are directly responsible for the dirty air that sickens our youth with asthma, leads to thousands of premature deaths a year in U.S. port communities, and adds to the climate emergency. We are demanding that these practices change.’

Gary Cook, Global Climate Campaigns Director at Stand.earth, added: ‘In the face of record profits, major retailers and their shipping companies have no excuse to not invest in cleaner ways of doing business.

‘Every year they stall, communities of color will remain saddled with the high costs of air pollution, and we miss the ever-narrowing window to address the climate crisis and ensure a livable planet. It's time for retail shipping giants like Amazon and IKEA to stop moving their products on fossil-fueled ships and commit to 100 percent zero-emissions shipping by 2030.’

Click here to access the report. 

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