CMA CGM, multinationals urge world leaders for green recovery from coronavirus

French container shipping giant CMA CGM and other major multinationals have reaffirmed their science-based commitments to achieving zero-carbon economy and called on governments to march their ambition in largest ever UN-backed CEO-led climate advocacy effort.

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155 companies — with a combined market capitalization of over $2.4 trillion and representing over 5 million employees — have signed a statement urging governments around the world to align their COVID-19 economic aid and recovery efforts with the latest climate science.

One of the signatories of the statement is Rodolphe Saadé, President and CEO of the CMA CGM Group, who in 2019 also initiated an international coalition for the energy transition of the transportation sector. 

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As debates on recovery packages around the world ramp up in the coming weeks, the companies, which are all part of the Science Based Targets initiative, are calling for policies that will build resilience against future shocks by supporting efforts to hold global temperature rise to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with reaching net-zero emissions well before 2050.

The statement comes as governments around the world are preparing trillions of dollars worth of stimulus packages to help economies recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and as they prepare to submit enhanced national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. In the coming weeks, several major economies will take key decisions in their recovery efforts, including the European Union Recovery Plan, new stimulus packages from the United States of America and India, and the G7 Heads of State summit in June.

“Saving lives and livelihoods, and building a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future, are at the heart of our efforts to recover from COVID-19,” António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, commented.

“We can beat the virus, address climate change and create new jobs through actions that move us from the grey to green economy. Many companies are showing us that it is indeed possible and profitable to adopt sustainable, emission-reducing plans even during difficult times like this. I warmly welcome the ambitious, science-based actions we are seeing from leading companies who are demonstrating to policy-makers that green growth remains the best growth strategy.”

The 155 companies have already set, or committed to set, science-based emissions reduction targets. By signing the statement, they are reaffirming that their own decisions and actions remain grounded in science, while calling on governments to “prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy.” Policy and spending that incorporates climate targets will reduce vulnerability to future shocks and disasters, create good jobs, reduce emissions and ensure clean air, according to a study from Oxford University.

“Governments have a critical role to play by aligning policies and recovery plans with the latest climate science, but they cannot drive a systemic socio-economic transformation alone. To address the interconnected crises we face, we must work together as an international community to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement,” Lila Karbassi, Chief of Programmes at the UN Global Compact, and Science Based Targets initiative Board Member, said.

“It is imperative that we not only restart the world economy — but also reset it. It would be a tragedy if after spending $10 to 20 trillion of public money we simply rebuild the same unequal, vulnerable and high carbon economy we had before,” Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute and SBTi Board Member, pointed out. 

CMA CGM’s eco-friendly initiatives

Last year, CMA CGM became the first shipowner in the world to successfully test the use of marine biofuel onboard the containerships CMA CGM White Shark and CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt.

What is more, in an effort to help accelerate and expand the use of biofuel in the shipping industry, the French company contracted in late 2019 Royal Dutch Shell to supply tens of thousands of tons of marine biofuel to its fleet. 

In 2022, the CMA CGM fleet will count 20 LNG-powered vessels, including nine 23,000 TEU giants, five 15,000 TEU containerships, as well as six vessels of 1,400 TEUs being built for CMA CGM’s company Containerships.

Beyond technical solutions to limit greenhouse gas emissions, CMA CGM also wants to unite all maritime transport actors in the international coalition. Initiated by Saadé and supported by French President Emmanuel Macron, the coalition will work towards the emergence of tomorrow’s clean energy for de-carbonized transport.