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Maersk sets ambitious 2040 full decarbonisation target

Danish shipping and logistics company Maersk has announced a new commitment to deliver net zero supply chains to customers by 2040 - 10 years earlier that it had planned and many are planning for.

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The company says its targets go beyond previous efforts to reduce emissions related to the ocean fleet, as they cover all direct and indirect emissions across its entire business.

Commenting on the new, more ambitious green target, Soren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk, said:

As a global provider of end-to-end logistics services across all transport modes, it is a strategic imperative for Maersk to extend our net zero ambition to the total footprint of the business. The science is clear, we must act now to deliver significant progress in this decade. These very ambitious targets mark our commitment to society and to the many customers who call for net zero supply chains.

Besides the 2040 net-zero goal, Maersk announced it has added “tangible near-term targets for 2030″ to ensure “significant progress on curbing direct Maersk emissions already in this decade”.

These include a 50% reduction in emissions per transported container in the Maersk Ocean fleet and a 70% reduction in absolute emissions from fully controlled terminals. Depending on growth in the ocean business, Maersk states this will lead to absolute emissions reductions between 35% and 50% from a 2020 baseline.

In addition, as recommended by SBTi, over the decade Maersk will go “above and beyond” the 1.5°C-aligned targets and invest in building a portfolio of natural climate solutions that will result in around five million tons of CO2 savings per year by 2030.

The shipping giant says its aim is to reinforce itself as an “industry leading provider of green supply chain solutions” and to cover Ocean, Air, Contract Logistics (warehouses and depots) and Cold Chain businesses.

Finally the targets also cover indirect emissions, which includes emissions from e.g., inland transport services and vessel building provided by third party suppliers.

Maersk’s Decarbonisation Targets


Net zero emissions across entire business and all scopes
  • Will be aligned with the SBTi net zero criteria


Commitments to customers and society to act now and have impact in this decade
  • Emissions reduction aligned with SBTi 1.5°C pathway (Scope 1 and 2, baseline 2020)
  • Ocean: ~50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity
  • Terminals: ~70% absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Natural Climate Solutions used above and beyond 1.5°C target to build a portfolio that generates around five million tons of CO2 savings per year by 2030

Industry leading green customer offerings across the supply chain

  • Ocean: 25% of all cargo transported using green* fuels
  • Air: Minimum 30% of cargo transported using Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
  • Contract Logistics (warehouses and depots) and Cold Chain: Minimum 90% green* operations (Scope 1 and 2)
  • Inland transportation: Industry leading green offering – targets will be set during 2022

*Green means fuels or energy that have low or very low greenhouse gas emissions on a life cycle basis

Among those to comment on the announcement has been renowned shipping expert Lars Jensen.

Writing on LinkedIn, Jensen said that Maersk had “thrown an interesting competitive gauntlet” by trying to reach net-zero 10 years ahead of some other major shipping lines.

Jensen added that the move “links up well with the “Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels” initiative launched in October where 9 shippers signed on to an ambition of zero-carbon shipping by 2040.” As the expert explains, this is significant as the companies who signed up are the likes of Amazon, Brooks Running, Frog Bikes, IKEA, Inditex, Michelin, Patagonia, Tchibo, and Unilever.

“If Maersk is perceived to be gaining a competitive advantage from this, other carriers will quickly follow suit. This will create a positive feedback-loop in relation to the fuel providers,” added Jensen.

The Vespucci Maritime CEO then went on to say that the move to newer greener vessels would place extra emphasis on the practice of scrapping:

“But it will also mean that we effectively will need to see a large part of the fleet renewed within a rough 15-year timeline. This means accelerated scrapping and a shortening of the anticipated lifespan of assets built in recent years. This will serve to highlight the issues of how to promote more acceptable scrapping practices – a clear problem already today and one that needs to be thought through as part of an accelerated decarbonization process for the entire industry.”

Photo by Елена Плыгач from Pexels