In late October, the sporting goods manufacturer Nike and the environmental protection organisation Ocean Conservancy launched the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge. By signing the voluntary commitment, companies pledge not to use shipping routes that go through the Arctic. Hapag-Lloyd is also one of the signatories.
The sea ice of the Arctic is melting. And one of the reasons for that is climate change. Although a permanently ice-free Arctic would shorten transit times for container shipping companies, increased shipping traffic poses additional threats to the Arctic environment. With their Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, Nike and the Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit environmental-protection organisation, are calling for no more ships to be sent through the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem.
A touchy issue with a long history
Passages through the Arctic Ocean have a long history as a hotly debated issue. Shorter transit times and the lower costs associated with them have often been cited as good reasons for considering the use of routes through Arctic waters. However, the still extreme climatic conditions place special technical demands on the vessels, which in turn are associated with high investments. Given these circumstances, economic factors have so far spoken against making extensive use of the Arctic routes. But aspects related to environmental protection still bear much more significance. Sea transport through the Arctic can increase the threats to the sensitive ecosystem, such as with the harm done by ship exhaust fumes.
Hapag-Lloyd will not sail through the Arctic
These concerns have already prompted Hapag-Lloyd to announce that it will not use the shipping routes through the Arctic as long as negative consequences for the ecosystem cannot be ruled out. “As a company with a 150-plus-year history of shipping, we have a very special responsibility for the seas on which our ships sail on a daily basis. By signing the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, we are taking another step towards protecting and preserving the Arctic’s unique ecosystem,” said Jörg Erdmann, Senior Director Sustainability.