Inditex Teams with Maersk to Cut Emissions. Can the Industry Commit to its Goals?

Zara parent Inditex has partnered with container shipping and logistics giant Maersk to reduce its global greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint over the ocean by incorporating alternative fuels in all inbound routes with the carrier.

The fast-fashion retailer follows the likes of chief rival H&M Group and Amazon in joining the Eco Delivery Ocean low-carbon shipping program. This initiative replaces fossil fuels on Maersk ships with alternatives like green methanol or second-generation biodiesel based on waste feedstocks. The collaboration is estimated to cut GHG emissions by 80 percent compared to conventional sources.

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The partnership comes as the shipping industry is behind on its decarbonization targets.

At the Global Maritime Forum’s annual summit in Athens on Wednesday, a new report stated that the world isn’t on track for zero-emission fuels to account for 5 percent of international shipping fuels by 2030.

In March 2021, the Getting to Zero Coalition, U.K.-based maritime consultancy UMAS, and the U.N. Climate Change High-Level Champions, which run the Race to Zero campaign, established the 5 percent goal to enable decarbonization in line with the Paris Agreement.

But the report, compiled by the three organization, suggests that current scalable zero-emissions fuel (SZEF) production in the pipeline would cover just a quarter of the fuel needed by 2030.

By the end of 2022, just 24 ships capable of running on SZEF, mainly using methanol, with another 144 on order. However, these numbers are insufficient to meet the industry’s mid-term emissions goals. To achieve the decarbonization targets, the industry needs to significantly increase its orders for zero-emission vessels, the report said.

“Now that we know the international direction of travel for the maritime sector, the 175 member states need to create incentives for businesses and investors to implement zero-emission ships and freight services,” said Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, U.N. Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt. “Although there is progress towards its 2030 breakthrough target we need to see policy makers create incentives for scaling up, for example, green hydrogen.”

Global shipping is responsible for about 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, according to the United Nations.

Maersk has tried to pull its weight by setting ambitious goals to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2040. It aims to transport a minimum of 25 percent of ocean cargo using green fuels by 2030. The logistics titan launched its first green methanol-powered vessel in September, the first of a 25-ship order arriving through 2027.

With its Eco Delivery Ocean offering, Maersk enables customers like Inditex to transport shipments with certified green fuels for a fixed cost. The corresponding greenhouse gas savings are confirmed to customers with an externally verified certificate. These transports will be exempted from E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS) charges by Maersk in the future.

Inditex, which is also the parent of Massimo Dutti and Pull&Bear, aims to switch all of its ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels by 2040.

“This collaboration is a great example of how boosting innovative solutions with dedicated partners is key to fight climate change,” said Abel Lopez, head of import, export and transport at Inditex in a statement. “Through this joint initiative with Maersk, we are making significant strides in reducing emissions associated with our sea freight. This project aligns with our goal to reach net zero emissions in 2040 and contributes to scale alternative fuels with a significant reduced carbon footprint.”

Maersk cited “high and very dynamic” demand for the Eco Delivery program.

“A lot of customers are asking us for a solution to reduce their Scope 3 emissions, and the first customers are buying this premium solution for their whole cargo under Maersk bill of lading now,” said Emilio de la Cruz, managing director of southwest Europe at Maersk, in a statement. “We are happy to serve this demand with Eco Delivery on an instant basis.”

Scope 3 emissions are not produced by a company itself and are not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by them, but by those elsewhere in its supply chain.

Inditex and Maersk aren’t just teaming up out at sea. This summer, Inditex also started collaborating in a rail pilot in Spain alongside Maersk, railway company Renfe and oil and gas company Cepsa.

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