sustainability, nike

Today, Nike and Ocean Conservancy announced the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge with apparel signatories already including Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung and PVH Corp.

Ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company have also signed onto the pledge.

Nike’s Hilary Krane, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel at the company provided more context on the pledge, describing the risk posed for the Arctic notwithstanding heightened interest in commercial development as global warming infringes on its ecosystems.

“The Arctic plays an essential role in regulating global temperatures and counteracting climate change. But, climate change is heating the Arctic at twice the rate of the rest of the planet,” said Krane. Cautioning on the severe ecosystem disruptions for Arctic residents and wildlife, “This should be alarming for everyone,” reiterated Krane.

Global shipping regulator The International Maritime Organization found that global shipping accounts for between 2 to 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and one result of climate change is melting ice, which opens up previously unnavigable areas in the Arctic.

Last year, Danish shipping and logistics company Maersk sent one of its container ships on a trial voyage through the Arctic route called the Northern Sea Route, also called the Northeast Passage. The company professed nothing other than a trial at that point.

Commercial shipping does not currently exist in this route, but if found commercially viable this route would cut down travel time by 40 percent from the current route between Asia and Europe along the Suez Canal, according to research from the International Association of Maritime Economists. Since then, Russia has been a major proponent for developing the route. The route invites liabilities and limited navigable potential throughout the year, and ships already need special certification from the IMO when navigating the Antarctic and Arctic.

“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, chief executive officer of Ocean Conservancy in a press statement. Jones and the Ocean Conservancy accredits Nike for acknowledging “the real bottom line” in a shared responsibility for the health of the Arctic.

Krane expanded on this concern saying, “Beyond that, it’s estimated that carbon emissions from shipping via the Northeastern Passage would be significantly higher due to the need for smaller, less efficient vessels and increased fuel requirements.” And actual costs to develop are still high, with $11.7 billion in investments needing to be put forth by the Russian government and its company partners who aim to develop the route.

Asked what is to prevent other companies from pursuing the Northeastern Passage as an enticing route, Krane said, “The science is clear. Even with regulation, substantial and irreversible risk to the environment exists in the form of oil spills, emissions, vessel strikes and invasive species, which not only impact marine life, but also the human populations that rely on a healthy Arctic ecosystem for their livelihood.”

The pledge calls on businesses and industry allies “to commit to not intentionally ship through the Arctic Ocean shipping routes, and help prevent a problem from even beginning.”

This announcement fits into Nike’s larger “Move to Zero” campaign on committing to reduce its carbon emissions across its global supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Throughout its logistics network, Nike partners with the Clean Cargo Working Group to reduce the carbon footprint in its shipping and transportation.

As a truly global industry, fashion companies are posed with greening all facets of their value chains (with transportation and shipping being a vital component) in order to activate the impact needed to align with the Paris Agreement’s ambitions.

Days earlier, Nike’s chief executive officer Mark Parker stepped down. Parker will be assuming the role of executive chairman and John J. Donahoe, a Nike board member, will succeed him come Jan. 13.

For More Sustainability News, See:

Nike Athletes Tackle Climate Change

Clothing for Rent: Here’s What Brands Need to Prioritize

Nike’s New CEO Seen Accelerating Digital

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