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Carbon footprint of freight transport

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Improving CO2 emissions calculations for supply chains

EU-supported researchers are developing a methodology and framework to accurately calculate carbon emissions from supply chains. The approach considers user needs and the requirements of different stakeholders: producers, transporters, wholesalers and political bodies.

Industrial Technologies

The increasingly international nature of supply chains encompasses a wide range of transport and handling elements — all contributing to and making up some 23 % of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide. As such, there is significant potential for reducing environmental impact through improved transportation processes. This is the overall goal of the 'Carbon footprint of freight transport' (COFRET) project. Currently, varying methodologies and tools as well as different databases are being used for carbon footprint calculations. This non-standardised approach means individual companies and organisations apply different measurements and indicators, making it difficult to compare results. Comparability, however, is necessary for analysing the efficiency and effectiveness of different supply chains. This applies to shippers, transport modes, carriers and products. Setting such a base would facilitate identification of best practices and highlight possibilities for improvement, as well as allow an analysis of the impact of changes to existing processes. In the first reporting period, the team analysed existing CO2 emission calculation methods and tools. They also established links with the most relevant stakeholders. These two complementary actions help to bridge an important research and knowledge gap. To ensure the relevance of their work for potential end users, team members engaged with the project's external advisory board. The board's representatives hail from diverse organisations and are committed to enhancing the added value of COFRET efforts through close collaboration and reviews of project deliverables. While the project was in progress, two first approaches were released for European and international standards (EN16258 and ISO 14067) for the calculation of CO2 emissions. These developments prompted COFRET to revise its future scope of work and planned actions, so as to account for these standards for calculating the carbon footprint of products. Going forward, the consortium's work is focused on the acceptance and use of the newly introduced standards by industry and other stakeholders. This is a necessary step towards the establishment of an internationally applicable standard for the calculation of CO2 emissions within the supply chain context.

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