Harmonized standards critical to drive climate action and innovation

After several events centered on transport decarbonization it was refreshing to join an event that put transport back in the context of broader climate change leadership organized by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). First up was Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employer’s Group, European Economic and Social Committee. He spoke of policy making and standards and explained why the EU is advancing on standardization surrounding low carbon solutions. “It is not easy to be a leader, but you either set up standards or you follow someone else’s standards,” he said.

Peter Bakker, WBCSD President introduced the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LTCPi) to help companies move towards low carbon technology adoption. He immediately dove into the business case: low carbon technologies could provide for 25-45 million person years employment, 5-10 trillion investments into the low carbon economy and most importantly, and it could take us 65% of the way to a 2-degree pathway. Areas for low-carbon opportunities are vast, and includes freight and logistics where over 50% of road freight emission reductions could be realized mainly through technologies and logistics options for long-haul trucking.

Businesses are ready to lead -- we know what the solutions are and what is needed to get them implemented. The renewed commitment by heads of government, mayors, CEOs and civil society leaders is a reason to be optimistic. Li Junfeng, former Director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation added that collaboration and joint leadership between the US, Europe and China is a must. Interestingly, the reduction of pollution is the main driving force behind cleaner technologies, and efforts will continue in any case, delivering carbon reductions along the way.

Jill Duggan of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership pointed out that companies see that they are moving faster and that policies are holding them back. Policies do not need to be complicated but politicians need to say the same thing again and again so that businesses feel confident to invest.

Complexity kicks in when working in supply chains. Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of chemical giant Solvay explained that what makes LCTPi stand apart is that it works along the supply chain from manufacturing of components all the way to their application.

So what is the role of standards, I asked, giving the example of SFC’s GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies as an effort to create global harmonization and the LEARN project to advance sector-wide adoption. The answer I got confirmed: harmonized standards are critical to create a level playing field, help business to take better and faster decisions, and thus accelerate climate action and innovation.

During a separate freight session, I presented the Smart Freight Leadership framework that refers to several existing standards relevant to freight and climate/sustainability. A lively discussion among freight and logistics experts and stakeholders followed on how policy can support businesses in making their freight operations smarter. Watch the WBCSD Low Carbon Freight space for more on this!

20 May 2017
Sophie Punte, Executive Director SFC

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