Being held to account
Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in late 2016, responsibility for reaching greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals shifts to individual countries, writes Alan Lewis, director, Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC), Smart Freight Centre.
As a result, companies will be required to account for the impact of their activities on an international basis.
Freight transport forms the backbone of today’s global economy; materials and products manufactured in one region are transported to another region along increasingly lengthy and complex transport chains, often involving more than one mode of transport as the product travels to its destination, stopping at warehouses, ports and terminals along the way. The spotlight is falling on this sector because it is one of the few where total GHG emissions are rising, primarily due to increasing volumes of goods and distances transported.
However, the use of different approaches in different locations and for different activities along the supply chain leads to fragmentation in calculating and reporting emissions. To counter this, in 2014 Smart Freight Centre (SFC) formed the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC), a voluntary partnership of companies, associations and programs, committed to the consistent calculation and reporting of emissions from logistics operations, with a view to using this information as the basis for targeted emissions reduction from the logistics sector.
Building on a range of existing best practices, GLEC has blended elements from mode-and-region-specific methodologies to create the GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies which is now recognised as the logistics sector guidance by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, the most widely-accepted GHG accounting practice.
Frequently within transportation circles the activities of ports, transhipment centres and warehousing is not well understood. SFC is now looking to address this by building ever closer ties with these sectors. This is allowing us to take a similar approach to that taken with the main transport modes: examine and incorporate the most appropriate existing methodologies and align them within the GLEC Framework to make logistics emissions accounting seamless and ever more accessible to business.
With this in mind, in December 2016 SFC agreed a memorandum of understanding with FEPORT, the Federation of European Private Port Operators and Terminals, to work together on this issue. FEPORT has itself identified GHG emission calculation and reduction as a sector priority and recently adopted guidance originally written by a grouping of major European ports, so the match is a natural one.
As a next step it is the intention to set up three case studies to test the data requirements and practical applicability of this guidance by the ports and terminals themselves. The exact case study participants are still being finalised, but it seems likely that the initial focus will be in north-west Europe.
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