Carbon Footprinting
in logistics

There is a social imperative to systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to do so as quickly as possible. Also, CO2 is increasingly being put at a price, which is having a growing impact on results. For every company it is therefore becoming a matter of course to set up carbon accounting alongside financial accounting: a normal part of business operations. This website focuses on carbon footprinting in logistics.

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Methodology

There are several methods for Carbon Footprinting and Carbon Accounting

Guidelines

Measuring, calculating, allocating and reducing CO2 emissions in transport and logistics

Tools

Someone who starts making CO2 emission estimates already comes a long way by reading guidelines and setting up a simple model in Excel. That gives a nice sense of what it means, how the chain fits together and what order sizes are. If you then want to take the next step, you automatically end up with the carbon footprinting tools that are available on the market. 

Models and (chain) accounting tools

Most tools help the user create a complex model of the chain, and estimate or predict the amount of fuel consumed.

But a new generation of tools is currently emerging. These are more focused on “accounting” for the primary data from the operation and calculating emissions from it in a standardized way so that they can be assigned to the right activity. The “accounting” means that an administrator or an auditor can check whether the results are reliable and thus give a true picture of reality. This is important if unqualified opinions are required, for example, for reports or calculations of emissions costs.

Benchmarking

CO2 reduction programs support participants in reducing emissions. At their core, these programs provide a neutral platform for collecting and exchanging knowledge, data and best practices for CO2 reduction in logistics and transport. In addition, many programs have a role in setting concrete goals per sector, community benchmarking, providing insight into the carbon footprint of the entire logistics chain and giving participants recognition for achieving these goals.

FAQ

What is Carbon Added Accounting?

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Carbon Added Accounting: recording and passing on carbon emissions in a supply chain, similar to the way VAT is passed on.

Carbon Footprinting is the prelude to Carbon Added Accounting. Because by having an insight into the emissions of an economic activity, it becomes possible to keep accounts of it. Read more

What is a COFRET Performance Indicator (CPI)?

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The COFRET Performance Indicator (CPI) is an emission intensity factor determined according to the COFRET method. The advantage is that it allows the emissions of individual shipments to be estimated quickly, easily and accurately: all that is needed besides the CPI is origin-destination-quantity. The CPI enables effective exchange of emissions data between shippers and hauliers. See guideline: The COFRET Performance Indicator (CPI)

When will the ISO standard be published?

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The ISO 14083 is currently being worked on by participating countries from around the world. When it can be published is not yet known. If the countries participating in the development approve the standard it can be published. The Netherlands participates in the development of the ISO standard.

May emission intensity factors be used for calculations of cargo emissions in individual trips?

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The general answer is no, unless it is a CPI.

Most other types of emission intensity factors give a reasonable picture when working with large quantities, and thick repeated flows. Great for modeling, but not for detailed calculations. Simple examples with a delivery van carrying loads show that you can easily get it wrong by 300%.

There are all kinds of sites with emission and emission intensity factors, what value do those numbers have?

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The emission factors are often region-specific. It is good to see which organizations are behind them, and how old the figures are.

This is even more true for emission intensity factors. There are all kinds of factors floating around for which it is difficult to find out what the basis is, how they were determined, how old they are, and what assumptions lie behind them. With some research it is possible to find out, but it takes time and attention.

What is the difference between an emission factor and an emission intensity factor?

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Emission factors allow you to convert the consumption of a fuel into emissions of CO2. The number is : grams of CO2 per unit of energy , for example grams of CO2 per liter of diesel, or per kWh of electricity . Pay attention to whether the number is “from the tank to the exhaust” (Tank-To-Wheel/TTW), or whether the production is included (Well-to-Wheel/WTW). That makes quite a difference. With electric propulsion, this is immediately apparent: the TTW emission factor is 0 (zero) g/kWH, the WTW emission factor around 475 g/KWh.

Emission factors are based on averages and are therefore often shown regionally and/or situation specific.

  • See guideline 4: fuel

With an emission intensity factor the emission of CO2 is assigned to transported cargo; this is expressed in g CO2 per transport unit x distance. This figure provides insight into how efficiently an activity is performed. Emission intensity can also be used to estimate the emission of cargo transported. However, it is important to be very careful and to know how the emission intensity factor is calculated. A number does not immediately reveal the allocation method used and the assumptions made by the researchers. Misuse can give very strange results, such as vans that seem to run 1 liter in 3 kilometers when you calculate it backwards.

The best and most widely used emission intensity factor is the one calculated on the COFRET method. It has been given the name CPI, to make it recognizable.

Will carbon footprinting become mandatory for companies?

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It is already mandatory for large industrial companies to participate in Emissions Trading through the EU Emmision Trading Scheme and map their carbon footprint. Within this program, companies have limited emission rights that can be traded.

The Climate Agreement of the Netherlands includes the desire, also for manufacturing companies.

The cost per ton of CO2 fluctuates, under ETS it has even been above 50 euros in 2021. The expectation of many experts is that this price will rise to 100 euros per ton of emissions in 2030 and even more in the long run. A simple calculation shows that a price of 100 euros per ton corresponds approximately to 10 ct/km for a tractor-trailer combination.

Is pricing part of the EU’s “fit for 55” program?

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Yes, and this program will be implemented in the coming years.

Will CO2 emissions also have a price in transport and logistics?

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It is expected that the CO2 from transport and logistics will certainly be put at a price. There are plans for this at the European level.

Is accreditation of a tool necessary or required?

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For an estimate of your carbon footprint, accreditation is not necessary.

For tools that provide formal reporting to customers, government and other stakeholders, accreditation is desirable. The question is who does the accreditation and what it entails. Any organization can say that they provide an accreditation, but if there is no standard attached, and no independent supervision of the process, then that statement has little value.