A who's who of major corporate names signed on to a John Kerry-led coalition that is aiming to tackle the carbon footprint of shipping and other hard-to-abate industries.

The addition of online retail giant Amazon even won the praise of environmental groups as a key win for efforts to decarbonise ocean shipping.

TradeWinds has already reported that shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk and trader Trafigura were poised to be the key shipping names in the First Movers Coalition, an initiative of the World Economic Forum and Kerry, the US president's special envoy for climate matters.

Also included on the list of 25 founding members released on Thursday were tech behemoth Apple, miner Fortescue Metals Group and Norwegian chemical company Yara International.

The coalition, unveiled during the COP26 climate conference in the UK city of Glasgow, aims to be a platform for companies to make purchasing commitments that demand low and zero-carbon fuels and technology.

Green groups Stand.earth and Pacific Environment, which lead the Ship It Zero coalition that is advocating for ending fossil fuels in shipping, said Amazon's addition to the list sends an important market signal that there are major companies willing to commit to zero-carbon technology.

Kendra Ulrich, shipping campaigns director at Stand.earth, said: "The First Movers Coalition could be a game changer for companies like Amazon, which must move quickly to help decarbonise the massively polluting cargo shipping sector.

"Making commitments today might feel like a big risk, but the bigger risk is being left behind and facing market competition for clean energy and green solutions later on."

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The First Movers committed to ensuring that 5% of deepsea shipping will be powered by zero-emission fuels by 2030, a key breakthrough target identified by Global Maritime Forum, University College London and the UN's Climate Champions.

And it calls for 10% of goods shipped internationally to be on vessels fuelled by zero-emissions fuels by 2030, with that percentage rising to 100% by 2040.

"The First Movers Coalition shipping commitments are consistent with the ambition of the Paris Agreement and fully aligned with the 2040 target and zero-carbon fuel criteria set recently by Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels," said Ingrid Irigoyen, director of the Shipping Decarbonization Initiative at US think tank Aspen Institute.

Global Maritime Forum chief executive Johannah Christensen said that by aggregating demand, the coalition will drive uptake of zero-emissions fuels and technology. Photo: Ty Stange

"We must remember that these new fuels are not yet in commercial use for deepsea shipping, and entire new supply chains need to be built, making these forward-looking commitments truly commendable."

Global Maritime Forum chief executive Johannah Christensen said that by aggregating demand, the coalition will drive uptake of zero-emissions fuels and technology.

"A first step is implementation of industrial-scale demonstration projects and green corridors to ensure safety, reliability, and sustainability of new technologies across the full value chain," she said.

"Only with such collaborative efforts can we make zero-emission shipping the default choice by 2030."

Tristan Smith, associate professor at University College London's UCL Energy Institute, said the First Movers builds in approaches aimed at mobilising shipping's customers to take responsibility for maritime emissions.

"This is already making business cases for investment in the long-run hydrogen-based solutions this sector needs, and prepares shipping's transition for the forthcoming implementation of [International Maritime Organization] policies that can then further scale their deployment."