Climate Change

New method to calculate carbon footprint of logistics supply chains

The framework combines existing methods to calculate emissions at a global level across all modes of transport such as road, rail, sea, air and transshipment

 
By Srilakshmi Nambiar
Last Updated: Tuesday 28 June 2016
Firms can identify hotspots within their transport chains, and thus keep track of their emissions and take steps to reduce them (Photo credit: Steven Straiton, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Firms can identify hotspots within their transport chains, and thus keep track of their emissions and take steps to reduce them (Photo credit: Steven Straiton, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0) Firms can identify hotspots within their transport chains, and thus keep track of their emissions and take steps to reduce them (Photo credit: Steven Straiton, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) has launched a universal method to calculate the carbon footprint of logistics supply chains. It promises to standardise reporting data and makes it easier to compare the business' environmental performance around the world.

GLEC was established in 2014 with an aim of providing a common, global platform for industry to develop, apply and advocate for a harmonised logistics emissions accounting. It is a group of companies, industry associations and programmes, backed by leading experts and other stakeholders. 

Until now, comparing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across different modes of transport was like comparing apples to oranges because so many methodologies exist. To address the gap of a universally adopted method for calculating logistics emissions, the GLEC, with inputs from academia, NGOs and other stakeholders, has developed the first global framework for logistics emissions accounting, incorporating existing methodologies and addressing the major gaps in logistics chain coverage.

Alan Lewis, GLEC director at the Smart Freight Centre (SFC), a global non-profit leading the GLEC, described the new framework as a "major international collaborative effort" and a "milestone for shippers, carriers and logistics service providers who have been waiting for a harmonised cross-modal calculation method".   

The GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies combines existing methods to “consistently” calculate emissions at a global level across all modes of transport such as road, rail, sea, air and transshipment. It also carries the World Resources Institute (WRI) Built on GHG Protocol mark, making it compatible with global carbon accounting standards. This framework can be used by shippers, carriers and logistic service providers.

It could prove as a crucial step in accelerating the low-carbon transformation in the freight and logistics sectors, which generate a combined total of around 6 per cent of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The GLEC Framework will enable a company to understand its carbon footprint alongside cost and time to decide the best way to transport its goods and to choose the most efficient freight carriers.

By combining existing methodologies into one framework, it enables emissions to be consistently calculated across a range of transport methods, including road, rail and shipping. Firms can identify hotspots within their transport chains, and thus keep track of their emissions and take steps to reduce them. “For the first time, emissions can be calculated consistently at a global level covering road, rail, inland waterways, sea, air and transhipment centers,” said Sophie Punte, executive director of Smart Freight Centre (SFC).

A number of leading multinationals including HP, Intel, DB Schenker and Deutsche Post DHL Group have already committed to adopting this framework. The companies say it will boost the accuracy and consistency of their reporting.

“GLEC’s new emissions framework will help HP calculate our GHG footprint consistently across our global supply chain while improving reporting processes and business decisions,” said Mike Passon, senior director for HP Global Logistics Procurement & Partner Management. “HP is excited to partner with our carriers and other shippers to implement the GLEC Framework globally.”

Calculation of carbon footprint faces several challenges due to broad geographic scope, complexity within the supply chains as well as the widespread use of subcontractors. SFC and GLEC are actively working to address these issues.   

GLEC will now focus on encouraging widespread adoption of the framework by businesses and embedding it in green freight programmes, carbon-footprint calculation tools, and other standards. Work will also continue to fill remaining gaps and expand the framework with black carbon and air pollutants. In the logistics sector, the focus would now be to drive the acceptance and use of the GLEC Framework by industry, government and other players.

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  • Nice to see this news. A very useful information is provided above, i hope this would help to reduce emission of green house gases and improve the efficiency of logistics supply chain. Thanks for sharing the news.

    Posted by: Charu | 2 years ago | Reply