How to lift energy productivity in Freight Transport

A Roadmap to double energy productivity in Freight Transport by 2030” is now released for comment, and yours will be most welcome.

Urgent action is needed to generate more economic value from the energy used to move freight in Australia, as congested cities increasingly constrain productivity across the economy. Decisions made today can lock-in energy-intensive freight transport activities for decades.

Published by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity using extensive consultation with leading transport businesses, industry associations and government stakeholders, the roadmap aims to agree actions and priorities for both industry and government under the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP).

Transport is now Australia’s largest energy user, and with the freight task to grow 25% over the next decade, it will have ever-greater influence on congestion, climate change, air pollution and economic productivity across all sectors. The transport sector has some of the most cost-effective opportunities for energy and emissions savings, yet as the NEPP 2016 annual report notes, raising energy productivity in freight and commercial transport relies largely on voluntary action, and little progress is being made.

The Roadmap considers trends that will shape future energy use in the sector, including increasing urbanisation, a shift to renewable energy, vehicle electrification, connectivity and intelligent transport systems, automation and business model transformation. It gauges the extent of improvements possible via known technologies; it highlights the uncertainty expected from various levels of disruption that is coming; and it identifies measures to help the transition to a much more energy-productive freight sector.

Key suggestions will be incorporated into its final version, so please check it out and contribute your ideas.

 

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What does a COP21 goal of net zero emissions mean for Freight Transport?

Business leaders are calling for a goal of net zero emissions to be set at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris this week. With 7% of global emissions coming from international freight transport, and growth in globalisation expected to increase such emissions nearly fourfold by 2050, the response from the logistics industry will be fundamental to meeting that goal. Yet for Freight Transport to achieve zero carbon, a key constraint is having good information all supply chain players can trust.

The Volkswagen saga shows how gaps in emission measurement standards or their application can shatter our faith in claims regarding emissions or fuel performance. Transport operators make a variety of statements about their environmental credentials, but how can freight buyers compare options with confidence?

A new non-profit, the Smart Freight Centre, is leading a collaboration of the world’s biggest shippers and transport companies to create a transparent, universal method of calculating logistics emissions along supply chains so people can make better decisions on how to move freight in the greenest way.

Data Drives Emissions Down

Transporters act in various ways to reduce energy use and emissions intensity across all logistics sectors to save money, reduce risk and meet growing customer demands for green transport services.

Good information is crucial for transporters to understand the real costs and benefits of potential emissions savings opportunities. It can be difficult to isolate gains produced by a single initiative given the amount of variables that affect fuel economy. Uncertainty about the environmental performance of alternative fuels and engine technologies is compounded by the lack of reliable case study information on their effectiveness for each transport mode. The integrity of external information sources relies on what exactly was measured, how and by who, and how the data applies to a specific task, the equipment configurations and local conditions.

In response, a growing number of collaborative groups are assessing technologies and practices that enable low carbon transport and share information on what works and what doesn’t.

Measuring the Whole Supply Chain

At a broader level we must consider a supply chain’s end-to-end profile. Measuring emissions from a train, truck, plane or ship is one thing, but allocating shares of those emissions to each freight item carried gets complicated across all legs of multi-modal freight movements criss-crossing the globe.

Online retail is creating exponential growth in single-item deliveries direct to homes and workplaces from worldwide sources. Growing consumer demand takes priority over the efficiencies of traditional logistics models, where bulk shipments via distribution centres to retail stores provide economies of scale for more energy- and emissions-efficient freight. Light commercial vans are the fastest growing traffic category in many countries, yet vans are second only to aircraft in energy consumed per tonne kilometre and generate over four times more CO2 per tonne-km than the average 44 tonne truck. This restructuring of supply chains affects the environmental footprint differently across geographies and logistics sectors.

Increasingly, freight buyers need to better understand the sources of logistics emissions along their supply chains, where freight can account for 25% or more of a product’s lifecycle emissions.

One Common Standard

The Smart Freight Centre hosts a collaboration of business and associated stakeholders creating a global framework for logistics emissions accounting. In 2014 they established the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to develop a universal and transparent way of calculating logistics emissions across global multi-modal supply chains so that shippers and logistics providers can include carbon footprints in business decisions, alongside costs, time and reliability when selecting modes, routes and carriers.

GLEC will harmonise existing methods and address gaps to devise an assurance standard in freight logistics emissions that enables more accurate and reliable benchmarking and realistic emission reduction strategies. Its’ framework builds on:

To better understand how it will operate for both shippers and logistics service providers in real world supply chains, a series of case studies is underway to gauge the practical availability of data and how it can be used to optimise low carbon freight movements. By simplifying a complex business with a common standard everyone can use to compare green logistics options, people can confidently use good information to reduce both environmental impact and cost.

Towards Zero Carbon Transport

Achieving net zero transport emissions requires using less fuel in tonne-kilometre terms (a key energy productivity metric) and using the cleanest fuels that suit particular freight tasks. The unavoidable residual emissions can then be neutralised by purchasing carbon offsets based on precise and trustworthy emissions measurement.

As global freight emissions rise, a harmonised method for emissions accounting becomes increasingly necessary. Supply chain players large and small must have good emissions information to maintain competitiveness and prepare for the complexity of a carbon-constrained world.

Consultation workshops in the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia are inviting public comment on the GLEC Framework, so download it to learn more. If you think about how this tool can improve your freight decision-making, you can help develop a logistics emissions methodology that assists Freight Transport to realise the net zero emissions goal.

Emissions Reduction Fund – A Transport Opportunity worth Taking?

I stand corrected. Last year I described the Direct Action replacement of the previous government’s carbon pricing mechanism as offering transport companies nothing, yet in the first Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) auction in April, transport group AHG was awarded a $2 million contract to reduce its emissions.

For the $1.89 billion (75%) of ERF funding remaining, Reputex predicts almost $100 million could go to transport projects.

Can you benefit from the ERF or will your competitors?

Opportunity for Transporters:

The Emission Reduction Fund uses approved ‘methodologies’ for calculating emission reductions that get compensated by contracted ERF cash payments over an agreed term. Two methods apply for the Transport sector – an Aviation method and a Land and Sea Transport method, which provides for crediting emissions reductions from road, rail and sea transport, and mobile equipment such as mining and agricultural vehicles.

The Land and Sea Transport method allows for one or more of the following activities in an emissions reduction project: replace or modify existing vehicles for better fuel efficiency; use cleaner fuels; swap freight to lower-emitting transport modes; and changing operational practices to reduce the intensity of vehicle emissions.

The ERF also allows for aggregation of projects under one umbrella, so that multiple sources of carbon abatement can be brought together under one contract to introduce economies of scale, reduce transaction costs and help manage performance risk. Aggregating may be particularly useful in the Transport sector to help thousands of small and medium size operators be part of the ERF action.

The next auction date is not yet set but you can be sure that AHG-inspired Transport bids are likely to come from industry giants such as Toll, Linfox, Asciano and Qantas. In July so far the number of new project registrations across all sectors has surged with more and more companies getting ready to bid.

Challenges:

There are however some challenging aspects of the ERF program to be met. Projects must deliver new abatement that has not begun to be implemented. So if you’ve just signed that purchase order for new vehicles, it’s too late to access ERF funds. If you are considering buying some new fleet your timing could be right. You need to show how ERF funds help get that decision over the line.

For example, the smallest allowable bid size is removing 2,000 tonnes of carbon per annum, which in transport fuel efficiency terms means saving 740,000 litres of diesel. When you consider this week’s national average retail diesel price of $1.35 cents per litre, the efficiency gain will be worth $1 million in reduced fuel costs. Using the average carbon price paid in the first auction of $13.95 per tonne, a successful ERF bid would provide an additional $27,900 to assist the project.

Measurement of vehicle fuel use is key to supporting any bid. Three years of good data on your existing vehicles’ fuel use and service history is needed to provide a baseline used to assess future emission reductions and contract payments.

Competition from other sectors may provide the greatest challenge for Transport companies interested in the ERF. More methodologies are being developed all the time to expand the scope beyond existing carbon farming projects that made up 98% of the successful first auction bids, as the government aims to increase competition from high emitting industrial sectors that may supply lower cost abatement at reduced prices per tonne. This goes back to my premise last year: most ‘low hanging fruit’ emission reduction projects in Transport are gone and remaining opportunities have long financial paybacks. The sector’s early action on emissions reduction over the past two decades and consequent current high marginal cost of abatement puts it at a competitive disadvantage against large players in high emitting sectors.

What to do now?

If you want to secure funding in the next auction:

  • Consider any capital expenditure or continuous improvement projects that reduce emissions which may fit the Transport method criteria
  • Talk to a specialist carbon advisor, especially an auditor and potentially an aggregator
  • Decide strategy for your structuring your projects and how to bid at auction
  • Apply to register your project

Applications take up to 90 days to be approved by the regulator, and only approved applications can bid at auction. There’s likely to be one more auction in 2015, with as little as 6 weeks’ notice from announcement.

So if you want some government funds to improve your carbon footprint, which can bring cost savings and green marketing opportunities as well, the time to act is now.

Carbon Neutral Transport webinar

The “Carbon Neutral Transport” webinar I ran recently for the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Australia was well received and the discussion afterwards generated some ideas for the future.

For those who missed it, here’s a link to the recording, based on the following brief:

 

What advantages does going Carbon Neutral offer the Transport industry?

To be Carbon Neutral a transport operator must save fuel relentlessly, use clean fuels and offset their residual emissions.

Saving fuel means saving money, and our customers increasingly demand energy-efficient and low carbon transport.

So why isn’t every transport firm going Carbon Neutral?

In this webinar, you will:

–          Learn what Carbon Neutral means in the transport sector;

–          See what’s being done to break down the barriers; and

–          Find out how the Business Case for Carbon Neutral Transport really stacks up!