Seeking to reduce CO2 emissions? Start with proper measurement

Logistics activities are responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Better measurement practices are the first step to reductions – and a TMS can help.


Logistics is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions

There hasn’t been this much carbon in the atmosphere in millions of years. The activities of the logistics sector had a significant role in putting it there.

When one digs into the reports, from the EU, the UN and independent climate research institutions across the world, it’s clear that a major share of global CO2 emissions falls to transportation. According to the International Energy Agency, ‘transport’ is responsible for 21% of global emissions, making it the highest contributor behind the energy sector.

Drill down a bit further and you’ll find that the majority of what’s classified as ‘transport’ is passenger transportation, such as cars, buses, motorcycles, taxis and more. Here’s an easy breakdown to see the role of logistics alone in global emissions:

  • ‘Transport’ accounts for 21% of global emissions
  • Logistics activities (heavy trucks + maritime) account for 40% of ‘transport’
  • Logistics activities (excluding air + rail) account for 8% of global emissions

8% of global emissions is a significant share. Reducing emissions across the logistics sector could have a significant positive impact globally. In fact, in order to reach the goals agreed at the Paris Climate Agreement, the logistics sector must reduce their carbon footprint by 20%.

Before addressing strategies for reductions, transportation stakeholders must first address a more fundamental question:

What’s the best way to measure CO2 emissions?

Notable resources for emissions measurement

“Managers can’t improve what they can’t measure,” stated Dr. Susana Val in the article Creating Common Measures for Logistics Emissions. “In logistics, the absence of a uniform measurement system coupled with a lack of knowledge about evaluating carbon footprints, makes it difficult to develop effective programs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr. Val goes on to detail the core principles of the LEARN program: Logistics Emissions Accounting and Reduction Network. Funded by the European Commission from 2016-19, LEARN continues to provide logistics stakeholders with resources for building an emissions measurement framework.

For an in-depth read on the role of transportation technology in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, try this paper from Gartner®.* It discusses how the latest technologies in transportation management (including transportation management systems) contribute to calculating and reducing emissions.

The paper also covers what we might call the ‘coalition approach,’ whereby companies join together to agree on emissions calculation standards. For a specific example of the coalition approach, check out the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC). The GLEC pursues the goal of emissions measurement, reporting and reductions through industry-led partnerships. 

Finally, if you’re seeking to take a deep drive on emissions calculations protocols for your company, this report from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol can help. Organized by scope of activity, the guidance offered in the report simplifies the process of calculating emissions across the value chain. Notably, there are clearly defined protocols for measuring freight activities.

When you examine these resources in detail, it becomes clear there are plenty of answers out there on how to calculate your company’s emissions, and even the possibility to choose a calculation method best suited to your industry vertical.

But what if you’re looking to the technology you already use for transportation management for assistance calculating emissions? Can a TMS provide everything you need?

Opportunities for better emissions measurement (and reductions) with a TMS

The short answer is yes. Well, our TMS can, anyway.

Alpega TMS has all the capabilities you need to calculate CO2 emissions from transportation processes. Unlike stand-alone emissions calculators, which require a lot of manual work, Alpega TMS can deliver reliable data on emissions throughout the end-to-end transportation management cycle.

Our solutions are already helping sustainability-focused companies around the globe reduce their CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a quick breakdown of how our product makes it happen:

  • Identify empty kilometers along your routes – and eliminate them with more FTLs
  • Optimize networks and routes for minimum emissions 
  • Use real-time visibility to get ever more precise data on route optimization 
  • Automatically select carriers based on coordinated parameters for emissions 
  • Build RFQs and scenarios with emissions calculations included  

These are capabilities currently available from Alpega TMS. And we’re not done yet. 

Looking towards the future of our product offerings, we’re working to ensure that our product is the best choice for any company seeking to reach their sustainability goals. There’s no limit to the granularity of emissions measurement, especially when dealing with a complex transportation network. Our goal is to ensure the delivery of precise, accurate data on emissions throughout such networks, the better to enable companies to make the reductions they desire to make. 

We hear you: you’re looking to reduce emissions

We’re always hearing from our clients about their corporate imperatives to reduce emissions. For instance, a recent webinar we co-hosted – EcoTransIT – we polled participants to get a sense of how important sustainability initiatives are at their companies. 

78% of participants felt that sustainability is important, very important or even critical for their company. As for the future, 94% felt that sustainability will become more important or even business critical over the next 5 years.

In that last statistic, ‘Business critical’ jumps out. It suggests that green logistics isn’t just good practice for ensuring we have an inhabitable planet to live on. It’s also good business practice. 

“Transportation costs are directly related to fuel consumed and distance traveled and, as such, optimizing on cost inherently reduces carbon footprint,” claims Gartner in their white paper Apply Technology to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Logistics.  

The paper goes on to discuss the crucial role TMS systems play in those optimization efforts. We’re proud to be included among the TMS systems driving real change in emissions calculations – through route optimization and beyond.   

Global perspective: getting emissions calculations right is of existential importance

Clearly our clients and industry stakeholders alike are interested in making their logistics greener. Many will work towards the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality. And it makes sense that they would choose a TMS whose motto is ‘Shaping logistics collaboration for a better world’ to achieve these ambitious goals. 

It’s that ‘better world’ part that explains why Alpega TMS puts so much time and effort into ensuring our TMS solutions are best-in-class for the purpose of emissions calculations and reduction: 

Because the stakes for getting it right could not be higher. 

The impact of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions was recently summed up in the United Nations report on climate change: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”

As the sector responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions, transportation stakeholders must play a commensurate part in reducing those emissions. The first step will be the implementation of better measuring tools – this is where those leading the field of logistics technology, like Alpega TMS, will play the biggest role. Better, more precise measurements will ultimately set up the industry for success in installing necessary protocols for cutting down on emissions.  

*Source Gartner, “Apply Technology to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Logistics”, Bart De Muynck, 3 June 2021. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission.

Las últimas informaciones del sector del transporte, la logística y la cadena de suministro, procedentes de nuestro equipo de expertos.


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