Open Letter to Target

Dr. Heather Price

Charlotte Bourdillon

Leslie Fulton

Carol Lindsey

Dianne Glover

Jill Aquino

Ann Eldridge Malone

Alex Dudek

Brooke Hall

Sadie Moss

Jacob McGinnis

Kaitlynn Liset

Michele Pettit

Delmarie Gibney

Kimberley Marcellini

Helen Elsbernd

Rosemary Desmond

Eileen Shaw

Mary Morrissey

Luanne Durst

Nina Shephard

Lucile Winnike

Suzanne Fortuna

Jennifer Harlos

Betsey Marville

Kevan Coffey

Laurie Cooper

Christina Haag

Cara Cook

Peggy Sherman

Laura Allen

Danielle Kody

Kristina Soman-Faulkner

Emily Little

Lisa Thompson

Michael Soman

Sally Melcher-McKeagney

Jessica Mossburg

Kathy Reiner

Melinda Cummins

Alex Fay

Sheila Stone

Jessica LeClair

Christine Gadbois

Christine Gadbois

Lucas Freshman

Lisa Jordan

Kathleen Wardell

Lindsey Hill

Theresa Keller

Amy Elinoff

Kailie Drumm

Claire Richards

Brian Cornell, Chairman & CEO

Target Corporation
1000 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Arthur Valdez, Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain and Logistics Officer
Jill Sando, Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer
Amanda Nusz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and President of the Target Foundation
Amanda Tucker, Vice President Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability
Brianna Murphy, Senior Manager, ESG & Stakeholder Engagement, Corporate Responsibility

Dear Mr. Cornell,

We, the undersigned members of the medical community, write to request your urgent attention and action to reduce and eliminate health-harming pollution from your maritime cargo imports. While international shipping is frequently low profile, the air pollution emissions from this sector have very real health impacts on coastal and port communities. We know Target deeply cares about issues of equity, justice and public health. Your continued inaction on addressing the pollution from cargo shipping in your supply chain does not align with these core corporate values.

Target is the third-largest retail importer into the United States, and relies heavily on West Coast ports. Between 2018 - 2020, your company emitted approximately 6.4 million tonnes of CO2e to import 1.8 million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs). In addition to climate pollution, the fossil-fueled maritime emissions in your supply chain also emitted tens of thousands of metric tons of health-damaging criteria pollutants, including SOx, NOx, particulate matter, black carbon, and carbon monoxide.

These pollutants are known to pose serious risks to public health, including increased rates of premature deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as childhood asthma. It is an unfortunate reality that those who are economically disadvantaged, and especially the Black and Brown communities living near large industrial ports, bear the greatest burden from cargo shipping pollution. Children in these communities are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution exposure.

It has been estimated that nearly 70% of ship air emissions occur within 250 miles of coastlines, where air currents can carry the pollution far inland. A 2018 study projected that in a business-as-usual scenario, ship exhaust exposures would result in over 400,000 premature deaths worldwide from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease and 14 million cases of childhood asthma in 2020. It is important to note that this 2018 study was conducted prior to the COVID pandemic and the resulting e-commerce boom. As consumers were stuck at home, many turned to online shopping. The resulting surge in demand for imported goods caused major disruptions in the global supply chain. Ships idled near ports for weeks and sometimes over a month while waiting for an available berth to unload cargo. In January 2022, the port of LA/Long Beach saw a record-breaking 109 ships offshore awaiting berths.

The air pollution from those diverted vessels impacts already suffering coastal and port adjacent communities. For example, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma saw an over 40% increase in import traffic in 2020 as compared to 2019. According to a 2019 analysis, Seattle/Tacoma had already had the highest rate in the US of early deaths per 100,000 people (1.8/100,000) due to port pollution exposures. This rate was more than double the global average. In addition, prior to the port congestion crisis, port-adjacent communities in LA/Long Beach had eight years lower life expectancy than their neighbors further from the port. It is reasonable to assume that the rate of early deaths from ship exhaust exposures has increased as port traffic volumes increase, and communities are exposed to the higher levels of air pollution.

Due to the reliance of Target on West Coast ports, your company had an outsized role in the port congestion crisis and resulting increases in air pollution. We are encouraged to see many retail brands taking steps to reduce and eliminate the air and climate pollution from the maritime shipping in their supply chains, including major retail brands such as Amazon and IKEA.

Target has an opportunity to provide leadership and a paradigm shift in the shipping sector. As a heavyweight in the retail industry and a major cargo carrier client, an urgent commitment to accelerate to fossil-free, zero emissions cargo ships would be impactful. Consumer confidence in the Target brand would increase exponentially.  

Solutions exist today to reduce and eliminate the air and climate pollution from international shipping. Cargo vessels can reduce speeds to lower fuel consumption, implement efficiency retrofits on existing ships, immediately switch to the cleanest fuel currently available - marine gas oil - while transitioning to fossil-free vessels, and plug vessels into the local electricity grid - commonly called “shore power” - while at berth to eliminate localized air pollution while in port. Cargo carriers like Yang Ming, Evergreen, Cosco, and CMA CGM can and should invest in fossil-free, zero emissions shipping technologies. This includes green hydrogen-based fuels, renewable-powered charging stations for ships idling offshore, battery-power storage, and wind-assisted propulsion.

We urge you to be the climate and public health champion that port and coastal communities need by committing to immediately reduce and completely eliminate maritime emissions no later than 2030.


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