Corporations Pledge No Arctic Shipping, As New Islands Emerge in Melting Russian Arctic

Photo: Military Sealift Command

The Russian Navy confirmed on Wednesday the discovery of new islands in their Arctic waters that have emerged as the glaciers around them melted, which scientists warn is happening because of climate change.  And yesterday, a group of corporations led by Nike and the conservation group Ocean Conservancy announced the launch of the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge under which they agree not to intentionally ship goods through the Arctic shipping routes that are opening up as a result of the same melting.

Why This Matters:  The discovery of new islands in the Arctic is not likely to be an isolated incident — in fact between 2015 and 2018, more than 30 new islands, capes, and bays along the Russian Arctic coastline were “discovered.”  This is why the Arctic Shipping Pledge could not come at a better time — when the pressure to increase shipping there, with associated ice risks and pollution, is escalating.  Adopting the “precautionary principle” with shipping in the Arctic is the best thing to do, and is consistent with an international agreement banning commercial fishing in the high Arctic that is already in place.

Arctic Shipping Pledge

The companies taking the pledge both “acknowledge that greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping are jeopardizing the Arctic” and agree to look for other ways to reduce emissions from global shipping, as well as acknowledge that “climate risks already impacting or threatening Arctic peoples, sea life and ecosystems.”

  • “Ocean Conservancy applauds Nike for recognizing the real bottom line here is a shared responsibility for the health of the Arctic—and believes the pledge will spur much-needed action to prevent risky Arctic shipping and hopes additional commitments to reduce emissions from global shipping will emerge,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy.

Other companies that have signed the pledge so far include Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M, Kering, Li & Fung, PVH Corp., and ocean shipping companies CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd, and Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Russian Arctic Islands

The new islands will now be included on maps and given names.  CNN reported that there was a similar discovery made last January, when glaciers in the Canadian Arctic melted enough to reveal an area of land that had been hidden under ice for at least 40,000 years.  Scientists warn that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet and that if glaciers continue to melt at this rate, entire island nations like Palau could disappear underwater. Rising sea levels could displace up to a fifth of the world’s population by 2100, and millions of people could face food and drinking water shortages and pollution and the spread of climate-related diseases could give rise to health crises.

Map: Ocean Conservancy

Up Next

New Study Finds that Plastic Pollution is an Environmental Justice Issue

New Study Finds that Plastic Pollution is an Environmental Justice Issue

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new UN report suggests that plastic pollution isn’t just a threat to marine life — it’s also an issue of environmental justice. The report, titled Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution, highlights that poor nations and communities around the world disproportionately suffer the effects of plastic waste. This […]

Continue Reading 386 words
Biden Pledges $20 Billion to Dismantle Highways, Racial Justice Activists Cautiously Celebrate

Biden Pledges $20 Billion to Dismantle Highways, Racial Justice Activists Cautiously Celebrate

President Biden’s new infrastructure plan contains something surprising — funding for “construction” projects to remove highways. Why?  Because for decades, Black communities in cities across the U.S. have been cut off and/or divided by highways and major roads that were built without regard to their impact on those neighborhoods

Why This Matters: Highways built in the 50s and 60s often came at the expense of communities of color. Their impact enforced segregation, disrupt thriving communities, and distanced Black people from city resources and job opportunities.

Continue Reading 590 words
Wealthy EU Nations Move to Stop Trash Burning

Wealthy EU Nations Move to Stop Trash Burning

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer European Union countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden have been sending millions of tons of trash to be burned in “waste to energy” incinerators. But because of the incinerators’ CO2 emissions and health impacts, the bloc is starting to cut off funding for new plants. This change “comes […]

Continue Reading 392 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.