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10 months ago

Climate Action 2011-2012

Steps to Sustainability

Steps to Sustainability Mass Transit and Logistics 120 climateactionprogramme.org © Leaflet Transport of freight is a key area for emissions reduction within the supply chain. By Niels Beuck, Policy Advisor and Marco Leonardo Sorgetti, Director General of the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistic and Customs Services (CLECAT), Brussels In a recent study by the German Environmental Agency it was stated that the earth needs one million years to produce as much fossil fuel as mankind currently uses in one year. This statement, which tries to visualise the huge amount of fossil energy that is being consumed by our society, illustrates the following important questions: can we find alternatives to avoid the total depletion of our reserves before it is too late and, in our domain, can transport find alternatives to power trucks, aircraft and ships? Even those working in the fossil fuels industry believe today that alternatives should be found soon. The upcoming scarcity of fossil fuels is well documented – among others, in Paul Roberts, The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. The discovery of new oilfields is becoming both more difficult and less rewarding in terms of quantity and quality. These are facts that demand a real change. However the environmental performance of fossil fuels has been targeted by restrictive measures in recent years, both through market-based instruments such as the emissions trading schemes and through stark The challenge to green transport prohibitions, like Low Emission Zones, where general traffic is not allowed. If nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from transport are estimated to rise by 130 per cent in the period between 2000 and 2050. The upcoming discussions in Durban are an opportunity to reach a global solution for a global problem; legislative initiatives may be studied at international level by organisations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and others. The upcoming discussions in Durban are an opportunity to reach a global solution for a global problem. Freight forwarders work within the supply chain in order to facilitate the transport, storage, clearance and delivery of the goods. They use all modes of transport and in so doing have to comply with the various rules and regulations that are decreed by these forums. At the same time forwarders must convince their customers, who demand reliability, speed, timing and low costs – not an easy combination.

Defining best practices is one of the most productive options to balance these two competing interests, and this method has been widely followed in our sector. This is, however, a long and winding road, and there are still many things that can be improved. At CLECAT’s last Freight Forwarders’ Conference (2010), Fiege Stiftung & Co KG gave a presentation about the company’s experiences in greener and more efficient logistics, pointing out that best practices and sustainable transport contribute to an “added value for customers as well as for the environment”. That being said, logistics is not only transport: a more wide-range view on what can be done to improve the environmental performance of logistics can contribute to our industry’s footprint. This is an area where legislation is finding it increasingly difficult to step in without interfering with economic development. WhaT are beST pracTiceS? There is an abundance of best practice examples, provided by many companies that have found ways to improve their business models by adopting environmentally sensitive solutions. CLECAT collected these in the first edition of its Logistics Best Practice Guide in 2009. The guidebook bundles over 100 best practices from the transport industry, collected from CLECAT members, the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the European Intermodal Association (EIA), the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) and others. A quick analysis of these examples suggests that a company should define for itself what it perceives to be ‘green’. As soon as it is clear what one wants to achieve, it is possible to research and apply specific best practices, which best suit the company’s business model. For example, transport-related benefits will always be indirect, if the company does not have its own fleet. Such ex-ante evaluations are a critical first step to take informed and intelligent decisions. FreighT ForWarderS and The environMenT: Money Saved The sector represents a business that is geared to providing tailor-made logistics solutions for customers. It is only natural that logistics service providers have accompanied their customers in their growing awareness of environmental issues in these years. Today many customers require the environmental performance index of the service provided to be included in the tender. A company should define for itself what it perceives to be ‘green’. The reasons for traders to introduce sustainable logistics are manifold. These companies may have a sustainability programme in place for ethical reasons or simply hope to Environmental performance is an area where legislation is finding it increasingly difficult to step in without interfering with economic development. © Baycrest 121 climateactionprogramme.org