Advocacy groups welcome COP26 Clydebank Declaration for Clean Shipping, but caution Declaration leaves room for delay

Urgent action needed to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, catalyze port energy transitions, and combat environmental injustices in port communities
Date: November 10, 2021

GLASGOW (November 10, 2021) – Today, at COP26, the United Kingdom led a coalition of 18 countries to join the first ever framework to create zero-emission ocean shipping corridors, the Clydebank Declaration for Clean Shipping Corridors. Signatories to the the Clydebank Declaration agree to work together to support the establishment of green shipping corridors, defined as zero-emission maritime routes, between two or more port pairs. First-mover signatories include Japan, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the United States of America, and more.

The shipping industry emits an estimated 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. If it were a country, the shipping industry would be the sixth largest emitter, ahead of Germany. On its current trajectory, maritime trade is projected to grow by as much as 130% by 2050 over today’s trade volume. Put simply: the world cannot stop the climate crisis without urgent action to decarbonize international shipping this decade.

By building out zero-emission – maritime “corridors,” major trade partners can catalyze land-side investments needed in clean energy and zero-emission electro-fuel infrastructure at ports. The corridors approach enables governments to first incentivize and, eventually, require that only zero-emission ships can travel from, say, Shanghai to Los Angeles or Rotterdam to New York.

Ocean Conservancy and Pacific Environment are particularly pleased to see that the Clydebank Declaration signatories agreed to define green shipping corridors as “zero-emission maritime routes,” which was not a given as the concept was negotiated.

Earlier this year, Ocean Conservancy and Pacific Environment released a report in April, All Aboard: How the Biden-Harris Administration Can Help Ships Kick Fossil Fuels, detailing how the Biden-Harris administration can address climate change and environmental injustices by completely eliminating emissions from the shipping industry in the next fifteen years. Advancing clean shipping corridors with major trade partners, specifically around and across the Pacific, was a key policy recommendation of that report.

Statement from Madeline Rose, Climate Campaign Director, Pacific Environment:

“Just like cars and trucks, ships will need new charging stations in a zero-emission future at the ports they frequent all around the world. We thank the United Kingdom for  leading this clean shipping initiative and commend all first-mover nations, but warn the Clydebank framework leaves room for delay tactics and fossil fuel loopholes. We urge partner countries and ports to act quickly to set immediate, interim and ultimately mandatory benchmarks to phase out all fossil fuel ship pollution along their shared corridors.”

Statement from Dan Hubbell, Shipping Emissions Campaign Manager, Ocean Conservancy:

Today’s declaration is a great first step towards cleaning up our ports, port communities and the maritime sector. The cooperation inherent in these green corridor commitments will help pave the way for eliminating emissions from ports and shipping here in the U.S. and internationally. We need to see today’s declaration followed up with progress towards strong mid-term measures at the  upcoming International Maritime Organization meeting later this month if we’re to keep the shipping sector in line with a 1.5C future.”

Pacific Environment is a global environmental organization that protects communities and wildlife of the Pacific Rim. We support community leaders to fight climate change, protect the oceans, build just societies, and move away from fossil fuels toward a green economy.

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit