- Nike and Ocean Conservancy's Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, signed last week, commits to not "intentionally send ships" through the Arctic out of concern for the negative impact of ocean shipping on the environment.
- According to the announcement, Nike said the decision dovetailed with its existing Move to Zero sustainability initiative, through which it hopes to achieve zero-waste and zero-carbon operations.
- Other corporate pledge signatories include Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung, PVH Corp., and ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company.
Three main shipping routes through the Arctic Ocean act as a "short-cut" between Asia and Europe: the Northern Sea Route (which follows the northern coast of Russia), the Northwest Passage (along the northern coast of Alaska and Canada) and the Transpolar Sea Route (which runs through the center of the Arctic Ocean).
These routes are generally navigable for only a few months out of the year. Due to climate change, Arctic sea ice is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, opening it up for longer to increased navigation and environmental damage from passing ships.
While maritime shipping is one of the least carbon intensive shipping modes available, pollution from fuels, oil spill risks and damage to sea ice are all significant concerns.
"The dangers of trans-Arctic shipping routes outweigh all perceived benefits and we cannot ignore the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping on our ocean," Ocean Conservancy CEO Janis Searles Jones said in a statement.
Likewise, on the part of shippers like Nike, sustainability efforts are moving beyond direct manufacturing processes to include the broader supply chain. In addition to tackling waste, water use and emissions, Nike opened a distribution center at its European campus that runs on 100% renewable energy. The company says 99% of containers reach the facility via local waterways, saving 14,000 truck trips annually.