Sure, green is good. It's important to know the impact transportation has on carbon dioxide emissions. But, when I see comments like the one below, I raise a few eyebrows.
A few weeks ago, Claire Whittaker, the EU's transport directorate-general, told delegates of Green Freight Europe, a recently launched environmental initiative, that the European Commission is “considering an unambiguous way of measuring CO2 footprints in the logistics chain.” She said transport is the only sector in 20 years that has seen an increase in such emissions.
Certainly, it makes sense for the commission to take another look at how carbon footprints within the transportation arena are measured. I can't help but wonder, though, what will come from it.
I wasn't at the meeting and don't have many more details other than what I have read in a report, and I don't really know what this “unambiguous way” could mean if it turns into policy. But two questions immediately come to mind about this: Should the EU and other governments not only consider measurements but also more heavily regulate the supply chain's footprint, with particular attention on the transportation and logistics sector? Or could this idea be just another thing logistics companies and corporate social responsibility offices will eventually have to factor into total supply chain planning and costs but, in general, doesn't really accomplish anything?
Europe has long been progressive on its environmental stance, implementing all sorts of environmental protection strategies and laws. I don't necessarily disagree — without legislation and enforcement, many companies across many industries would probably not do this on their own.
And, according to the EU:
- Heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) represent about a quarter of EU road transport CO2 emissions and some 6% of the total EU emissions. In spite of some improvements in fuel consumption efficiency in recent years, HDV emissions are still rising, mainly due to increasing road freight traffic.
As part of the EU's future strategy to address HDV fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, a number of actions can be considered that will result in:
- Improved vehicle efficiency through new engines, materials and design
- Cleaner energy use through new fuels and propulsion systems
- Better use of networks and more efficient fleet operation, with the support of information and communication systems.
If the EU moves these considerations forward and requires logistics companies to upgrade their fleet and use trucks with cleaner engines or propulsion systems, there will be a ripple effect throughout the supply chain — probably in the way of costs and higher prices.
On the plus side, maybe the supply chain has already reached a tipping point on this and, whether because of legislation or collective awareness, is ready for some “unambiguous way of measuring CO2 footprints.” According to a recent supply chain report from the Carbon Disclosure Project, “Companies are making real changes to their operating models, most frequently in procurement, resulting in greater reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and greater monetary gains across the entire supply chain… The business case is strong and growing: suppliers that do not measure, quantify, and manage their greenhouse-gas emissions will soon see their business move to competitors that can provide better information and clearer evidence of change.”
Does this also apply to logistics suppliers and freight-forwarders? I venture to say I hope so.