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The logistics and transport sector to net-zero greenhouse gases emissions

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting held in January 2023 in Davos saw the launch of new guidance to support the logistics industry on its journey to net-zero emissions. The attendees got a first glimpse into how companies can better understand and track their logistics emissions. Released by the Smart Freight Centre and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the guidance sets out to help businesses in the implementation of their decarbonization strategies. Link for the download:

This new publication highlights the usefulness and benefits of ISO 14083, a much-anticipated International Standard offering the first universal method for logistics emissions accounting. A game changer for climate action, the forthcoming standard is expected to support the industry globally in its carbon reduction efforts. 

The logistics and transport sector contributes just over a third of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making it the largest-emitting sector in numerous developed countries. And that share keeps growing. In 2021, the transport sector accounted for 7.7 Gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 – an increase of 8 % since pandemic measures were lifted. Today, the world’s total annual CO2 emissions are around 35 Gt. A sector that makes such a significant contribution to global emissions can play a critical role in the transition to a decarbonized future, as well as adapting to the impacts of climate change. To meet the world’s net-zero targets, transport needs to reduce its emissions by around 20 %, to less than 6 Gt by 2030, in anticipation of the projected growth in demand for global trade.

ISO 14083 will scale up the collective efforts. It will provide a unique tool for these players to drive climate action, create policies and roadmaps to reduce emissions and track progress. Developed through a multi-stakeholder process, the ISO standard is expected to garner greater support from governments worldwide, which in turn will enhance alignment between corporate and government accounting and reporting of logistics emissions.

ISO 14083 covers both passenger and freight transport. This will ensure a common industry guideline for calculating and reporting emissions from freight transportation and logistics. The annex will provide sector-specific guidelines on issues such as vessel categories, default emission intensity values and worked calculation examples for inland waterway transport, that supplement the provisions of the main standard. This is seen as an important opportunity for the sector to ensure alignment between existing sector practice and an International Standard that is expected to play a significant role in the fight to cap future GHG emissions from transport. 

Bold steps are needed to further reduce trade-related emissions. Ultimately, providing reliable benchmarked calculations with sufficient geographic coverage should help businesses move goods in the cleanest, most effective way possible, selecting fuel-efficient carriers and modes, reporting emissions and identifying the most viable technologies and strategies for emissions reductions. And while we wait for that to happen, let’s spare a thought for the carbon emissions impact of what it took to package and transport them all the way to our front door.

The whole article is available on ISO web site: