Total greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. freight activities grew by more than 50% between 1990 and 2013 and greenhouse gas emissions from global freight movement are expected to quadruple by 2050. As global economies continue to grow, so, too, will greenhouse gas emissions unless we get smarter about how we move our goods.
Adopting efficiencies in shipping cargo, logistics optimization, and intermodal transport can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the global movement of goods while also providing significant savings. Switching to alternative fuels and transitioning fleets from traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles to hybrid and electric vehicles can reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from ground fleets.
There are about 70 new technologies available on the market that can increase truck efficiency, with an opportunity to save between 30-40% on fuel costs. For example, capturing just half of under-utilized truckload capacity would cut truck emissions by 100 million tons per year (about 20% of U.S. emissions), and save more than $30 billion per year in diesel fuel expenditures. And making use of intermodal transport such as truck to rail can reduce emissions by a whopping 75 percent.
“If just 10 percent of the freight that moves by truck moved by rail instead, fuel savings would exceed 800 million gallons per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 9 million tons — equivalent to taking around 1.8 million cars off the road or planting 215 million trees.” - Association of American Railroads
Companies have both the power and a financial incentive to reduce their environmental impact from the movement of goods to market. We need all hands on deck from the business community to leverage these trends and build the momentum.
What is expected of companies that commit to reducing the climate impact of transportation?
Companies making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation will adopt practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions, setting reduction targets and implementing practices such as adopting cleaner technologies, switching fuels, optimizing their logistics and employing intermodal strategies to increase the efficiency of shipping operations and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Companies committing to reducing the climate impacts of transportation will be expected to complete an annual online questionnaire updating the Climate Collaborative on progress made toward the commitment. The questionnaire will be short and should not be burdensome to complete.
Here are some specific steps your company can take to move forward:
- Develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of your goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
- Develop performance metrics to track transportation efficiencies and establish both absolute and intensity-based targets for reducing carbon emissions. Implement systems for estimating the carbon footprint of your fleet or third party logistics fuel efficiencies and emission reductions.
- Establish a method for tracking reduction of black carbon and other short-lived pollutants. Your company may want to consider participating in the Climate Collaborative’s short-lived pollutants commitment. Learn more here.
How can the Climate Collaborative help?
Sharing information, coordinating across sectors and collaborating with industry stakeholders can all help reduce the learning curve and speed up the process of developing and instituting a green transportation action plan.
Here are some ways we can help:
- We are developing a briefing paper (enhanced by webinars) to provide an overview of existing green transportation initiatives and opportunities for businesses with or without fleets. The paper will examine strategies, guidelines and information for:
- Software and tools to track and benchmark emissions;
- Clean technologies and fuel switching;
- Efficiency practices by freight mode;
- Logistics optimization and intermodal options;
- GHG audits and transport provider performance; and
- Strategies for transport provider engagement.
- We will convene cross-sector coordination and working groups on green transportation strategies within the industry.
- Over the coming months, we plan to compile best practices and provide peer learning and information sharing opportunities. Please let us know your needs and interests.
View the Climate Collaborative webinar The Fast and the Furious: A Company's Guide to Reducing Transportation Emissions
Initiatives and strategies
- Overview of green freight – Why Green Freight?
- Green freight action plan initiative - Global Green Freight Action Plan
- Establishing metrics, targets, strategies, tips - EDF Green Freight Handbook
- B2B leadership initiative for shipping cargo – BSR/Clean Cargo Working Group
- Overview of International Transport Forum - The Carbon Footprint of Global Trade
Tools to measure and benchmark carbon in freight for different modes
- Assessment tools and benchmarking by freight mode - EPA Smart Way
- Report on EPA SmartWay partner progress – SmartWay 2020 Vision Report
- Trucking efficiency technologies, guidelines, training - NACFE
- Report on adoption of NACFE 70 technologies – 2016 Annual Fleet Fuel Study
- Shipping efficiency, GHG ship rating - Carbon War Room/RightShip
- Accreditation/training for fleets – NAFA/CALSTART Sustainable Fleet Accreditation