Without Changing Trade Patterns, Optimizing Routes, Transport Emissions Won’t Drop, ITF Says


by | Feb 2, 2017

transportationCorporations and governments won’t reduce transportation-related carbon-dioxide emissions without shifting trade patterns and technological advances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF).

Continued strong growth in demand for mobility means that even in the most optimistic scenario, global transport CO2 emissions in 2050 will remain at 2015 levels of around 7.5 giga-tonnes, the ITF Transport Outlook 2017 says.

In the ITF Transport Outlook’s less optimistic baseline scenario, a doubling of global transport demand will lead to an increase of transport CO2 emissions of 60 percent between 2015 and 2050.

“Technology will provide about 70 percent of the possible CO2 reductions to 2050,” said ITF Secretary-General José Viegas in a statement. “The rest will come from doing things differently, and this is where there is still a lot of potential. We need to think much harder about things like shared mobility, changes in supply chains and even new transport modes.”

A key factor for the difficulty in reducing transport CO2 emissions over the long run is shifting global trade patterns. As trade moves to regions with a lack of rail or waterway infrastructure, greenhouse gas emissions from road freight will almost double.

Driven by more trade among emerging economies, freight transport on intra-Asian routes will experience massive grow — 250 percent to 2050, the report says. Operational measures such as truck-sharing, route optimization or relaxation of delivery windows to optimize use of transport capacity would help to mitigate the emission increases here.

Urban mobility is another area of concern. Car use in cities is set to double by 2050, as fast-growing emerging economies meet mobility demand. According to the ITF analysis, cities can keep the number of cars constant at the 2015 level if they act now to put in place integrated land-use and transport policies, use pricing to manage mobility patterns and invest in accessibility through public transport.

Some corporate fleets and transportation and logistics companies, however, are taking action to reduce transit emissions. This also achieves cost savings as fuel is the largest single cost for trucking fleets.

In efforts to reduce transport carbon emissions in urban areas, commercial fleets in London will trial Ford’s plug-in hybrid vans and Mack Trucks has partnered with the New York City Department of Sanitation and Oberon Fuels to test the performance of a dimethyl ether (DME)-powered Mack Pinnacle model. DSNY is the first Mack customer to evaluate DME, a non-toxic, clean-burning alternative fuel.

Ford has pledged to invest $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles by 2020. This includes a fully electric SUV with an estimated range of at least 300 miles and two new electrified police vehicles.

Other leading automakers including Toyota, Honda and BMW, along with energy and industrial giants have pledged to invest $1.5 billion a year in hydrogen and fuel cell products. As part of this effort, Honda and General Motors recently teamed up produce hydrogen-powered fuel cells in the US with the goal of producing zero-emissions cars by 2020.

GM is also focusing on making its vehicles lighter, which also improves fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. In a blog post, the automaker says 10 recently launched Buick, GMC, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles have lost an average of 350 pounds. The annual carbon emissions avoided from this weight loss is about equal to saving 28 million gallons of fuel.

When it comes to making trade patterns more efficient, major fleets are looking to alternative, low- and zero-emissions fuels as well as public-private partnerships and big data.

By the end of 2016, UPS had invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally since 2009. The logistics company has also improved fleet efficiency with its proprietary routing software ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation).

The ORION routing system uses more than 250 million data points from customers, drivers and vehicles to reduce miles driven on delivery routes every day. UPS expects ORION to result in an annual savings of 10 million gallons of fuel, a reduction of 100,000 metric tons in CO2 emissions, and an estimated $300 to $400 million in savings and cost avoidance.

As Michelle Livingstone, Home Depot’s vice president of domestic and international transportation, tells DC Velocity in an interview, transportation accounts for 65 to 70 percent of the company’s supply chain cost. Cutting Home Depot’s carbon footprint through better transport management has helped the retailer grow its revenue, she says.

One of the ways Home Depot cuts its transportation emissions is by requiring all of its carriers to participate in the EPA’s SmartWay carbon-reduction program.

“We have taken it a step further by making a SmartWay score a key determinant in the carrier selection process,” she says in the Q&A. “We are one of the founding members of the program, so we want to make sure our carriers know how important it is to us. As for metrics, in 2015 we shipped 4,000 fewer trucks by optimizing our trailer cube. This reduced our emissions by 4,132 metric tons.”


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