Amid continuing pressure on supply chains to get faster, shipping through the Arctic Ocean has garnered increasing attention in recent years as an alternative and quicker option to more conventional routes, writes GlobalData.
Beth Wright, Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData, says: “Passages such as the Northern Sea Route, for example, could significantly reduce the time goods spend on a ship from Asia to Europe, rivalling the established journey through the Suez Canal by enabling product to reach the consumer more quickly.
“While northern shipping lanes are not yet economically viable, the potential opening up of such passages could increase the devastating impact climate change is already having on this unique and remote environment.”
The Arctic is already being hit by the effects of climate change, with temperatures in the region estimated to be rising at least twice as fast as other parts of the globe – meaning sea ice is diminishing. As a result, trans-Arctic shipping is opening up for longer periods, while previously unnavigable ocean routes are also becoming increasingly feasible.
Despite the potential advantages, companies are taking a stand and are refusing to risk endangering the already vulnerable Arctic ecosystems any further.
Among these are sporting goods giant Nike, whose Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge invites companies to commit to not intentionally send ships through the Arctic Ocean.
Fashion firms Bestseller, Columbia, Gap, H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung and PVH Corp have joined the pledge commitment alongside ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean Shipping Company.
According to environmental group Ocean Conservancy, which launched the pledge alongside Nike, while increasing a rise in the number of ships on the Arctic’s waters could bring economic benefits, it could also pose a risk to the region’s marine ecosystem, with dangers including increased pollution, ship strikes on marine mammals, the introduction of invasive species, and oil spills.
Wright adds: “As climate change continues its assault on the planet, the efforts of these companies to safeguard the Arctic and its vulnerable ecosystems can only be applauded – particularly as trans-Arctic shipping could speed up the supply chain if the routes continue to open up as industry fears they may.”