Advisory: Activists, students, faith community to protest Target’s role in climate change

March 24, 2022

April 22 in Long Beach, California: Earth Day march and ‘die in’ will draw attention to company’s outsized role in ocean shipping pollution, impacts on decreasing life expectancy of port communities worldwide

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA — On Earth Day, climate activists with the Ship It Zero coalition, college students from California State University Long Beach, and community groups plan to protest retail giant Target with a march through the CSULB campus and a “die in” outside Target’s Long Beach store. The protest aims to draw attention to the company’s outsized role in ocean shipping pollution and the impacts on climate, oceans, and the health of port communities locally and worldwide.

Similar protests against Target are happening in Seattle, WA, and Bellingham, WA, on the same day. U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced a visit to Seattle on Earth Day, where he plans to discuss infrastructure and clean energy, potentially including the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, where imports are up40% over 2019 due to COVID-19 pandemic-related congestion issues at California ports. Also on Earth Day, the Long Beach City Council plans to introduce a resolution calling on major retail companies to adopt zero-emissions shipping by 2030, following in the footsteps of a similar move by the Los Angeles City Council last year.

According to Ship It Zero coalition reports, Shady Ships and Shady Routes, Target is a top retail importer into the U.S. and a top contributor to the ship pollution and congestion crisis at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. From 2018-2020, Target’s fossil fueled ships emitted 6.4 million tons of carbon dioxide to ship an estimated 1.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with 727,146 TEUs passing through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during that time. Overall, 95% of Target’s imports pass through the West Coast.

The international ocean cargo shipping industry currently relies on the dirtiest option on the market to fuel their ships. Heavy fuel oil, a tar-like substance containing asthma and cancer-causing air pollutants, is so dirty that sometimes melted car tires and chemical waste are added to it.

WHO: Climate activists with the Ship It Zero coalition, which is led by environmental advocacy organizations Pacific Environment and; college students from the Environmental Science and Policy Club and Climate Action Team Club at California State University Long Beach; high school students from the Long Beach Green Schools campaign; local environmental justice groups Coalition for a Safe Environment, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Sierra Club, Long Beach 350, and Long Beach Environmental Alliance, and Sunrise Movement Long Beach; and members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach and First Congregational Church of Christ of Long Beach.

PHOTOS & VIDEO: Photos and video from the event, as well as corresponding events in other cities, will be posted here:

SPOKESPEOPLE: Student activists Naya Shah and Jayden Maree, and Dawn’yall Heydari, Ship It Zero campaign lead at Pacific Environment, will be available on site for interviews.

WHAT: March and “die in” against retail giant Target over its outsized role in ocean shipping pollution, and the impacts on climate, oceans, and the health of port communities locally and worldwide. Students will hold banners and signs calling on Target to “Raise Life Expectancy in Long Beach,” “Step into the Twenty-First Century,” and “Abandon Dirty Ships.”  

The Los Angeles area receives 40% of all containerized cargo imports to the U.S. coming through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, making the surrounding communities — primarily working-class communities of color — particularly vulnerable to harmful pollutants. Port-adjacent communities experience up to eight years lower life expectancy than the Los Angeles County average, and the highest risk of cancer regionally. 

During the pandemic, port pollution has skyrocketed. According to the California Air Resources Board, in 2021, fossil-fueled cargo ship congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach caused an increase in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions equivalent to adding 5.8 million passenger cars to the region, and an increase in particulate matter (PM) emissions equivalent to 100,000 big rig trucks per day. Both pollutants are associated with higher risk of asthma, cancer, and premature death. 

WHEN: 12-1:30 p.m. PT, Friday, April 22, Earth Day

WHERE: The activists will meet at the CSULB Walter Pyramid (Blue side in front of parking lot G11) at 1792 Merriam Way, before marching to Target at 2270 N Bellflower Blvd for the die in. See a map of the route.

MORE INFO: The Ship It Zero campaign is calling on some of the nation’s largest maritime importers — including Amazon, Target, IKEA, and Walmart — to transition to 100% zero-emissions cargo shipping vessels by 2030. This goal will ensure the shipping industry does its fair share in helping to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target scientists say is needed to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Target has been notably missing from other industry initiatives joined by retail giants like Amazon, including the coZEV coalition and U.S. President Biden’s First Movers Coalition

In November 2021, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted a resolutioncalling on Los Angeles’ top maritime importers to commit to making all port calls to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach 100% zero-emissions ocean shipping by 2030.  

In January 2022, the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Shanghai, and C40 Cities announcedthe first Green Shipping Corridor between Los Angeles and Shanghai. The ports will work with industry partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the movement of cargo throughout this decade, including a goal to “begin” transitioning to zero-emissions cargo ships by 2030.

The science shows that zero-emissions solutions are within grasp. According to a 2020 International Council on Clean Transportation study, Transpacific voyages could be powered by green hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, with only minor changes to ship fuel capacity or operations. 


Media contact: Gwen Dobbs, Pacific Environment,, 202-329-9295 (Eastern Time)