In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Walmart’s maritime shipping caused more pollution in 2019 than a coal-fired plant emits annually.
  • A solar company sues the Department of the Interior over offshore wind farm approval.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

The big 15 shipping polluters

As the result of using fossil-fueled ships to import their goods into the US, just 15 retailers emitted as much shipping pollution as the equivalent of 1.5 million US homes, according to a study released today from environmental organizations Pacific Environment and Stand.earth.

Shady Ships: Retail Giants Pollute Communities and Climate with Fossil-Fueled Ocean Shipping is the first study to quantify the environmental and public health impacts from some of the largest US retailers’ reliance on overseas manufacturing and fossil-fueled transoceanic shipping. 

By cross-referencing a comprehensive set of cargo manifests – that is, consolidated lists of all the cargo that is on board a cargo vessel – with a dataset on individual ship emissions, researchers were able to estimate the pollution associated with each unit of cargo on discrete shipping routes and, for the first time, assign those emissions to retail companies.

More than 50,000 merchant ships currently carry around 80% of global trade each year, and ocean-going cargo volumes are projected to grow by as much as 130% by 2050. Every merchant ship currently in operation runs on fossil fuels. 

The top 15 polluters ranked, with No. 1 being the worst, are:

  1. Walmart
  2. Ashley Furniture
  3. Target
  4. Dole
  5. Home Depot
  6. Chiquita
  7. Ikea
  8. Amazon
  9. Samsung
  10. Nike
  11. LG
  12. Redbull
  13. Family Dollar
  14. Williams-Sonoma
  15. Lowes

For example, the report states, No. 3 Target’s “dirty shipping produced more CO2 than the entire CO2 output of all 20 of the world’s smallest countries most vulnerable to climate change.”

Electrek’s Take: It’s not enough to set a net zero target for just your own company, as many of the above companies have. Supply chain emissions – and especially maritime shipping emissions – also have to be acknowledged and addressed. Shipping emits over 1 billion tonnes a year of CO2, and it’s growing.

Read more:

Solar vs. wind

Well, this is an interesting twist in the clean energy sector. Solar company Allco Renewable Energy is suing the US Department of the Interior over the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm, off Massachusetts. Allco alleges that Vineyard Wind threatens the fishing industry and the fish. The lawsuit was filed Sunday in federal court. The lawsuit states:

This case challenges the approval of the proposed Vineyard Wind Project by the Defendants. It asks the Court to set aside those approvals as violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and section 101 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Defendants’ rules and regulations, and to ensure that federal review of the proposed project complies with the law.

Allco also specifically argues that no offshore wind farm can survive a Category 3 or greater Atlantic hurricane, so the company says that could jeopardize endangered sea turtles and the Right Whale (and thus the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act).

Electrek’s Take: To state the obvious, Allco is a competitor of Vineyard Wind in the clean energy sector. Hmmmm. There is definitely no ulterior motive here. And you know what will threaten marine life and the fishing industry even more than this offshore wind farm? Global warming. In fact, offshore wind farms can benefit sea life, if planned thoughtfully. We need both offshore and onshore wind and solar. Give us a break, Allco.

Read more: Maine governor permanently bans offshore wind in state waters

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