23 January 2019

Harmonised Emissions Measuring and Standards Critical to Driving Decarbonisation

By mid-century, CO2 emissions from global freight transport are set to grow fourfold as compared to the current levels if no additional measures are taken. However, to achieve the climate change mitigation objectives set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, these emissions have to be reduced significantly. Low-carbon opportunities relating to freight and logistics are vast; yet the major obstacle preventing companies from taking action and drawing them away from decarbonisation is that they struggle to measure their carbon footprint in a reliable way, which in turn impedes their ability to estimate the emissions reduction potential and implement reduction actions.

GLEC Framework: where does it stand and where is it going?

Launched in 2016, the GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies has strived to address this issue by equipping freight transport companies with a universal methodology to calculate their GHG footprint consistently across the global supply chain. 24 companies have now formally adopted the GLEC Framework, including the largest European freight forwarders and service providers such as DB Schenker, DP-DHL, Geodis, Kuehne+Nagel and SNCF Logistics.

A revised and updated version of the GLEC Framework will be released soon, providing more emphasis on practical implementation and a comprehensive guidance on how to calculate emissions at a range of logistics sites including maritime container terminals and warehouses. Whilst companies should be striving for activity/fuel-based data, the reality is that this data is not always available, making the testing and implementation of the GLEC framework difficult. Therefore, a wider range of default consumption factors is being developed for all modes of transport. Eventually, the fuel emission factors will be analysed in more detailed, especially on biofuels and low-carbon fuels.

The updated Framework will also include a ‘GLEC Declaration’ to provide companies with several options to disclose logistics emissions-related data to customers and external stakeholders. In each case, it will identify a core level of data disclosure and suggest options for greater detail: to be negotiated bilaterally between customers and suppliers for B2B reporting and best practices in annual public reports. This will help drive transparency as the current reporting of logistics emissions in annual corporate sustainability reports is often incomplete and inconsistent.

How has the LEARN project contributed to the uptake of GLEC Framework?

Over the past two years, the European Commission-funded project, the “Logistics Emissions Accounting and Reduction Network” or LEARN, has been advancing the sector-wide adoption of the GLEC Framework. It has been designed to help companies with their logistics emissions accounting, reporting and eventual reduction of their carbon footprint. The LEARN partners, including CLECAT, have tested with individual companies the practical applicability of emissions calculation, assurance and reporting in complex multi-modal logistics settings. By the end of March, further guidance and training material will be issued, alongside making policy recommendations to the European Commission on what policy can and should do with regards to emissions accounting. Furthermore, there is within the Consortium a strong support for the development of an ISO standard, complementing the GLEC Framework. Clearly, the development of international standards takes time and resources, but ultimately may be good for business operating international supply chains.

With the project set to finish in March 2019, the LEARN International Workshop, held in Brussels on 6-7 February, will present project results and demonstrate the practical examples of testing emissions calculation, assurance and reporting effectively. Gathering various freight transport businesses, policy makers and research institutes, it will explore how target setting, collaboration efforts, emission reduction actions and policy-making come together in a new approach to sustainable logistics. CLECAT members and freight forwarders are encouraged to join the workshop and explore the opportunities provided by the methodology to make logistics supply chains more cost efficient and sustainable. 

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