Reshaping logistics: Path to emissions transparency

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September 14, 2023 - The scale and complexity of the logistics value chain creates inherent challenges in understanding the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of the sector. This limits visibility across transport modes and logistics providers, inhibiting their GHG mitigation efforts and adding friction to partner collaboration efforts. The footprint of transportation is significant, as evidenced by the recent Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990–2021 (the national inventory that the US prepares annually under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), which reveals that transportation alone constituted a staggering 29 percent of total US GHG emissions in 2021.

The need for sustainable solutions within this sector has never been more crucial. Obstacles such as emissions data exchange difficulties, limited data availability, and an overall lack of trust within data accuracy and reporting pose a major barrier to achieving decarbonization goals. This issue is particularly critical because of the complex connections among stakeholders within transport value chains.

It is for these reasons that the Smart Freight Centre (SFC) has convened logistics-sector stakeholders to develop the SFC Exchange Network. The SFC is a non-profit global organization founded with a commitment to lower GHG emissions in freight transportation. The firm’s objective is to lead the global logistics industry in tracking and reducing emissions by one billion tons by 2030, striving for zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, to align with a 1.5°C future (Read Decarbonization can’t wait). To achieve an efficient and emissions-free global logistics sector, the network partners with global organizations to assess impacts, find solutions, and promote strategies for decarbonizing logistics within the transport value chain, all while advancing carbon transparency.

The SFC Exchange Network is focused on developing a means to exchange GHG emissions data in a way that addresses the issues of disconnected, poorly accessible data across the value chain, technical complexity in allocating emissions to owners, and limited trust in sharing data across parties.

The project reached a major milestone toward this goal through the successful completion of the proof of concept (PoC) phase. This phase focused on gathering stakeholder input, the initial development of assurance and governance principles, and the development and piloting of peer-to-peer data-exchange capabilities.

BSI is proud to have served its role as Knowledge Partner on the Core Team by providing technical input on the development of an initial risk-based assurance framework. Participants recognized that establishing and maintaining trust in the Exchange Network by participants is critical to its success. Therefore, the design of the assurance framework was focused on supporting the key principles described in the ISO 14083 standard of completeness, consistency, accuracy, transparency, and conservativeness. The work identified best practices and necessary controls related to member practices, security of technology, and management of data.

The PoC successfully demonstrated the feasibility of this type of data exchange to support collective action in mitigating GHG emissions. The work will continue beyond the initial PoC, incorporating stakeholder feedback and project outcomes that resulted in recommendations to support further scale, efficacy, and credibility. As the Exchange Network scales, we expect continued acceleration and collaboration in the logistics sector in lowering its carbon footprint in support of the climate action needed to meet our collective net zero goal.

Read more from Ryan Lynch in Future of work: The role of ESG regulations and Transforming the digital landscape: Unveiling the power of sustainability in ICT.

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