Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV) is a new coalition for ambitious action to accelerate maritime shipping decarbonization

[WASHINGTON, DC] Through a new cargo owner-led network facilitated by the Aspen Institute, a group of corporate climate leaders have announced a first-of-its-kind target to progressively switch all of their ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels by 2040. Amazon, Brooks Running, Frog Bikes, IKEA, Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Tchibo, and Unilever are the first signatories to a 2040 ambition statement facilitated by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV). This ambition statement sends an important demand signal to the maritime value chain and bunker fuel producers that freight customers want zero-carbon shipping and they expect the industry to rapidly accelerate its decarbonization efforts in the years ahead. It also signals increased interest by consumer goods companies and retailers to work collaboratively, deploy their capacities for innovation, and drive economies of scale to foster an economically viable marketplace for zero-carbon shipping.

“The coZEV network is changing the conversation about climate solutions in maritime shipping—and beyond,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “Maritime shipping, like all sectors of the global economy, needs to decarbonize rapidly if we are to solve the climate crisis, and multinational companies will be key actors in catalyzing a clean energy transition in shipping. We applaud the coZEV 2040 Ambition Statement signatories for their leadership, and we urge other cargo owners, value chain actors, and governments to join forces with us.”

“The coZEV initiative represents an historic step in the fight against climate change, with its bold ambition to harness corporate climate leadership to accelerate decarbonization of the global maritime shipping industry,” said Ingrid Irigoyen, Director of the Aspen Institute Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, which facilitates the coZEV effort. “Maritime shipping has long been a major producer of climate and air pollution, and attempts to transition away from fossil fuels have faced significant hurdles, including a perceived lack of freight customer demand that has stifled investment and scalability of potential solutions. By setting an aggressive target today, a group of leaders is changing the conversation. And this is just the start, we expect this movement among climate leading companies to grow rapidly. This will allow us to drive economies of scale, innovation, and a surge of confidence among investors and value-chain actors that there is a business opportunity in doing the right thing.”

“We are thrilled to co-launch this much needed initiative aimed to help switch ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuels,” said Edgar Blanco, Director, Net-Zero Carbon at Amazon. “We look forward to working together with the Aspen Institute and other companies to scale up innovative climate solutions to decarbonize maritime shipping, which will help us meet The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. 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.”

“We need to speed up the transformation towards zero emission ocean shipping. By collaborating with like-minded partners, companies, and organizations across the value chain we can create strong movements. Therefore, we have today signed the ambition statement ‘Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels’,” says Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld Sustainability Manager Supply Chain Operations at IKEA. “It’s an important stepping-stone to manifest the commitment to decarbonize ocean shipping. With this ambition statement we want to demonstrate the determination to reach set targets and instill confidence amongst all stakeholders across the ocean shipping industry on the direction of our common decarbonizing journey ahead.”

“Unilever has committed to achieving net zero emissions throughout our global value chain by 2039. With logistics and distribution accounting for 15% of our total greenhouse gas footprint, we’re committed to working with partners and other companies to accelerate the transition to cleaner transport options,” said Michelle Grose, Head of Logistics at Unilever. “The next few years offer exciting and important opportunities for harnessing technology and innovation in the shipping industry, and there’s really no time to lose. Working with the Aspen Institute and collaborating with other large maritime freight users as part of the coZEV network, we look forward to accelerating the decarbonization of the maritime industry and working towards our joint commitment of zero emission shipping.”

Today, maritime shipping powered by heavy fuel oil produces 1 billion tonnes of climate pollution each year — as much as a G7 country or all of America’s coal-fired power plants combined. Maritime shipping currently accounts for 3 percent of all global emissions, and could rise to 10 percent by 2050 if the industry continues to rely on carbon-intensive fuels. Maritime shipping also produces 10-to-15 percent of the world’s manufactured sulfur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions. To mitigate these negative impacts and align with Paris Agreement goals, the maritime shipping industry must transition to zero-carbon fuels by the mid-2020s, use them at scale by 2030, and be fully decarbonized by 2050, at the latest.

While sending demand signals for zero-carbon shipping is essential to kick-start this transition, companies working with coZEV also recognize that market forces alone will not bring these solutions to scale. For this reason, signatories to the 2040 ambition statement are also calling on policymakers around the world to take swift and ambitious action to advance maritime shipping decarbonization—in their domestic, regional, and international leadership capacities. Currently, the International Maritime Organization, shipping’s global regulator, is working under a draft greenhouse gas strategy for shipping that only requires the sector to reduce its absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Given the long lifespan of maritime cargo vessels and the need to ramp up renewable energy production to support zero-carbon fuel supply chains around the world, the transition must accelerate rapidly. This announcement is intended to heighten a sense of urgency and increase confidence in the investment opportunity presented by zero-carbon shipping.

To that end, coZEV plans to work with a network of action-oriented and climate-leading cargo owner companies, which includes but is not limited to signatories of this initial 2040 ambition statement. Through coZEV, companies will be able to come together to help establish the first zero-carbon maritime transportation corridors; give policymakers confidence to enact measures that will lower the cost of the zero-carbon transition; and harness the vast collective creativity, market power, bias for action, and investment capacity of some of the most innovative companies and organizations on Earth.

“Whether or not shipping will decarbonize is no longer a debate. The question is rather how quickly we can get our collective act together, and which supply chain actors and nations will be poised to harness the vast business opportunity this transition represents,” concluded Irigoyen.

About Aspen Institute

Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program’s Shipping Decarbonization Initiative (SDI) is partnering with leading organizations and companies from around the world, tapping into a vast network to drive the transition to zero emission maritime shipping and decarbonize one of the most important sectors of the global economy. Aspen SDI is convening multinational cargo owners to accelerate shipping decarbonization, elevating the need for shipping decarbonization within the U.S. policy context, and advancing the establishment of zero-carbon transoceanic maritime transport corridors.

About coZEV

Cargo Owner for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV) is a platform for climate-leading, multinational companies to come together for high impact initiatives that accelerate the transition to zero-carbon maritime shipping. It is facilitated by the Aspen Institute. For more information, visit

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AmazonNews.

About IKEA

IKEA offers well-designed, functional and affordable, high-quality home furnishing, produced with care for people and the environment. There are several companies with different owners, working under the IKEA Brand, all sharing the same vision: to create a better everyday life for the many people. IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world – including iconic global brands like Dove, Lifebuoy, Knorr, Magnum, OMO and Surf; and other brands such as Love Beauty & Planet, Hourglass, Seventh Generation and The Vegetarian Butcher.

Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of our founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago, and it’s at the heart of how we run our company today.

The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while:

  • improving the health of the planet;
  • improving people's health, confidence and wellbeing; and
  • contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world.

While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognised in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and - for the tenth-consecutive year - as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey. For more information about Unilever and our brands, please visit 

CONTACT: Clarke Williams