Call to Action: Double Countries that commit to setting up Green Freight Programs

The global marketplace is fed by a vast network of freight transport that is growing rapidly and has significant environmental impacts.  This vital economic sector needs urgent reforms in order to become more efficient and more sustainable. The Global Green Freight Action Plan launched today at the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) Annual Summit plans to do just that. Over 50 stakeholders of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition have already endorsed the UN Climate Summit Call to Action and three key goals: strengthening and harmonizing existing green freight programs, creating new green freight programs, and incorporating black carbon into green freight efforts. This Action Plan supports those goals and serves as a blueprint and roadmap. 

This Action Plan is timely and important. Freight movement will grow 430% by 2050 and is often inefficient – for example, 40% of trucks run empty in many developing countries. The environmental impacts from these types of inefficiencies adds to climate changing greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions. But the costs for business and economic development constraints must also be addressed.

Governments can help address these challenges through better infrastructure and policies that make it easier for companies to use cleaner fuels and vehicles, improve freight movement and shift to more efficient modes. Green freight programs are a way to bring industry together and take practical actions. Green freight programs are usually public-private partnerships that empower both the companies that ship goods to consumers and the transporters who carry their freight. They help companies set targets, take actions, account for emissions and collaborate with each other to get double digit emissions reductions. Business efforts and achievements are recognized through awards, labels and publicity.

The first green freight program was SmartWay in the US, launched in 2004 and since expanded into Canada. Similar programs were set up in other countries, for example, Mexico, Korea, China, Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom.  Regional programs for road freight exist in Europe and Asia, and the Clean Cargo Working Group covers sea freight. These efforts provide a strong basis to build on. The Global Green Freight Action Plan aims to align these programs, replicate them in countries worldwide, and rapidly reduce black carbon and air pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Among the 24 actions already included in the plan are the creation of a global methodology to calculate emissions, a platform for technology verification, and training modules on how to design and implement green freight programs. We are also working with countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Mexico to improve or set up new programs, and in Europe to improve collaboration between 5 existing programs.

Business leaders who want to compete more effectively in the global market will undoubtedly want enhanced supply chain efficiencies to reduce costs.  Green freight programs help them to do this through fuel saving technologies and strategies .  Verified technologies and best practices will not only cut costs but also emissions, helping businesses become better corporate citizens.  SmartWay Partner in the US alone have saved over $16 billion in fuel costs in ten years due to these investments.  The numbers speak for themselves!

Our Action Plan was also one of the Action Commitments at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit last year, and therefore we want to respond to the call to double our efforts. There are 13 countries with green freight programs today, and we want to find 13 more countries in time for COP21 in Paris to commit to do the same. We want to appeal governments to include a national green freight program in their climate and clean air efforts. It will help their countries improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, black carbon and other air pollutants. But most importantly, these programs appeal to business, because they will help them become more competitive through reduced costs and demonstrated corporate leadership.

The Action Plan is available on http://globalgreenfreight.org. The Action Plan’s Steering Group includes US, Canada, Clean Air Asia, ICCT, Smart Freight Centre and World Bank. Please contact us at info@globalgreenfreight.org

SOPHIE PUNTE, Smart Freight Centre, sophie.punte@smartfreightcentre.org
RACHEL MUNCRIEF, International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT), rachel.muncrief@icct.org

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