Paris, 29 September 2017 -- A universal method to calculate black carbon emissions for the logistics supply chain was released today by Smart Freight Centre (SFC) that was developed with support from the UN-led Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).
Measuring climate impact is about more than just carbon dioxide. Black carbon, a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, fires and cookstoves, is a short-lived, but extremely potent climate pollutant, with 3,000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and a serious human health hazard. Black carbon typically stays in the atmosphere for days to weeks, and when on land, black carbon is linked to glacial melt in the Himalayas, earlier spring melt in the Arctic, shifting circulation patterns, and decreasing sea ice.
Transportation emits nearly 20% of global black carbon, which the Climate and Clean Air Coalition attributes to 3.2 million deaths per year. To raise awareness about black carbon’s impact, the Global Green Freight Project released the Black Carbon Methodology for the Logistics Sector in order to enable companies to quantify their black carbon emissions. The Black Carbon Methodology provides a framework for calculating emissions from air, road, rail and sea transport.
It is a supplement to the GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies, produced by the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC), a partnership of companies, industry associations and programs led by SFC, which provides a framework for carbon footprint calculations in the logistics sector. “Companies with transport activities in their direct activities or value chain can use the Black Carbon Methodology to estimate emissions from their transport activities with similar data needed for greenhouse gas emissions calculations,” said Suzanne Greene, Advisor with SFC and the GLEC. The methodology provides a clear pathway for collecting additional data to refine estimates in areas where black carbon is more of a concern, such as in urban areas or near snow and ice.
As the freight transport sector grows in coming years, the impact of black carbon emissions will continue to grow - especially in developing countries, where technologies lag behind Europe and the US. Improved technologies can supply a quick fix, especially for diesel trucks - the biggest emitter from the transport sector. According to Dr. Cristiano Façanha, Program Lead at the International Council on Clean Transportation, “advanced vehicle technologies such as diesel particulate filters can reduce black carbon emissions by 99% from uncontrolled levels, thus bringing substantial climate and health benefits.”
Dr. Benjamin Brown-Steiner, a scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said, "the ability to quantitatively estimate Black Carbon emissions from human activities is a critical step in understanding the human impact on the atmosphere and the Earth's climate. Having a clear methodology, makes this an obtainable goal for a wider set of institutions."
Black carbon has the potential to be a low hanging fruit for many logistics companies’ climate strategies. Understanding the amount and location of black carbon emissions can help companies to strategize on reducing emissions through fuel efficiency and improved technologies. Director of MIT’s Sustainable Logistics Initiative, Dr. Josué Velázquez-Martínez, sees a strong potential for black carbon to be included in sustainable logistics decision making alongside carbon dioxide. “The magnitude of the negative impact of black carbon make it a key element in logistics sustainability that will drive companies to a new era in measuring and reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector.”
In the future, the Global Green Freight Program hopes that black carbon becomes a vital metric for quantifying climate impact. “Because black carbon is a potent short-lived climate pollutant with serious health impacts, it is absolutely critical to incorporate black carbon in logistics emissions accounting,” said Dr. Cristiano Façanha.
The Black Carbon Methodology for the Logistics Sector and the GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies 1.0 are available on http://www.smartfreightcentre.org/main/info/publications.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. The CCAC Global Green Freight Action Plan supports the reduction of black carbon from freight and logistics alongside CO2 emissions, including through green freight programs. This Action Plan is part of the Global Climate Action Agenda under the United Nations in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Led by SFC, the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) was established in 2014 as a partnership between over 40 leading businesses, associations and industry initiatives involved in freight movement, and is backed by experts and other institutes. GLEC provides a common, global platform for industry and stakeholders to create and implement a universal and transparent way of calculating logistics emissions. Companies can use the GLEC Framework to report emissions, compare and select more fuel-efficient modes and carriers and identify ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
GLEC invites companies to demonstrate a commitment to a more competitive and environmentally sustainable freight sector by implementing the GLEC Framework. The GLEC Framework is also included as an action in the CCAC Global Green Freight Action Plan.
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