Freight: The Growing Source Of Global Emissions

Growth in international trade has been characterised by globalisation and the associated by the breakdown of geographical boundaries causing the fragmentation of international production processes. Supply chains are more complex, logistic networks expand across continents. The modern consumer demands international products faster. This led to more frequent and smaller freight shipments and, as a result, to less full containers, more empty runs and increased demand for rapid, energy-intensive transport such as air freight. As freight transport by air, land or sea relies heavily on fossil fuel for propulsion and is still a long way from being able to switch to cleaner energy sources, it is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. The long-term impact of global trade on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has been largely ignored. At this crucial time when global emissions need to be going down, transport emissions are going up.

Contributing to a whooping 7% of global carbon footprint. Our new customer expectation for international produce and ‘one day delivery’ is starting to seriously undermine climate goals. Assessing how changing trade patterns will affect future CO2 emissions is important in establishing whether policies are aligned across the supply chain to achieve climate change mitigation objectives.

Strategies to reduce CO2 focus typically on vehicle technology, and technological improvements can do much to decarbonise transport. Improving the efficiency of operations can have a significant contribution to emission reduction while making business more profitable.

Our guess is that we don’t have long before stricter global measures are put in place. So perhaps, we should start thinking about improving the efficiency of our transport systems to meet climate mitigation goals. Decarbonization of the transport and freight sector would create a cleaner, healthier and more affordable future for everyone. And it can be done without sacrificing the interconnectedness we've come to expect from modernity.

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