Delegates at the Smart Freight Leadership seminar in Leipzig, Germany, called for cargo organisations to create a universal, transparent means of calculating logistics emissions across the global supply chain. “Shippers and carriers could then compare and select more fuel-efficient modes and identify ways to increase efficiency,” said Sophie Punte, executive director of the Smart Freight Centre.
She added that creating an industry standard would provide a common goal for all logistics companies to work towards, in contrast with the current situation in which there is a proliferation of green initiatives, benchmarks, and incentives.
Buddy Polovick, team leader with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, agreed that a major challenge was the proliferation of organisations monitoring and measuring climate change targets. “Some transport companies are suffering from ‘stakeholder fatigue’ because they are finding they have to report to too many NGOs monitoring their emissions and performance. We need a standardised, harmonised network,” he said.
Stephan Schablinski of Green Freight Asia reported similar difficulties in establishing a standard way of measuring freight emissions across Asia since many countries had their own green labelling schemes.
Angie Farrag-Thibault, associate director of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), said BSR’s Clean Cargo initiative had developed benchmarks that had helped maritime carriers make their procurement decisions, but there remained a challenge in the industry arriving at collective goals as a whole. “Policymakers want to be able to measure emissions reductions in whole sectors, not just for individual companies,” she said.
Freight organisations would like to bring transhipment centres such as cargo terminals into the process of calculating the logistics emissions of the whole supply chain. Professor Jens Froese has led a team at Jacobs University in Bremen that looked into terminal emissions but he said his experience was that some cargo terminals were unwilling to share data.
However, he said it was difficult to compare the emissions and fuel consumption of terminals with transport operators since terminals had much more complex management issues, above all a much larger workforce, which made a major contribution to energy consumption in terms of staff facilities such as showers.