CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 22, 2020
Forward Thinking

Kuehne + Nagel pledges less-than-container-load shipments to be carbon-neutral by 2020

Move comes alongside renewable energy and reforestation programs from logistics giants IKEA, Amazon.

Freight forwarding and logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel International AG today stepped up against climate change by launching a "net zero carbon" program that is designed to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through steps like ensuring carbon-neutral less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments and replacing most business travel with videoconferences, both beginning in 2020.

The move comes at a time when the global spotlight on carbon emissions has grown brighter through recent events like a Sept. 20 "climate strike" featuring thousands of students and activists marching in cities around the globe and like the speech delivered to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 22 by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Many logistics operations are also keeping a close eye on the impacts of warming global temperatures, since Tropical Storm Imelda is currently closing highways in Houston, Hurricane Dorian forced the closure of east coast sea ports in September, and melting polar ice caps have opened the famed "North Sea Route" for hauling maritime cargo between Asia and Europe.

In other initiatives, Inc. said Sept. 19 it had committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2030 and becoming "net zero" carbon by 2040, through steps such as ordering 100,000 fully-electric delivery vehicles to replace diesel trucks and investing $100 million in reforestation projects around the world to begin removing carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and respiration by trees.

Likewise, Ingka Group, the largest retailer within the IKEA franchise system, said Sept. 19 that it has invested $2.75 billion in wind and solar power projects as part of its ambition to become "climate positive" by 2030, generating more renewable energy than it consumes by phasing out fossil fuel-based heating and cooling. Through reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than the IKEA value chain emits, the company would support the Paris Agreement goal of halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in absolute terms by 2030 and limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Schindellegi, Switzerland-based Kuehne + Nagel says it is also striving to reduce global warming by using big data and digital platforms to optimize transport routes and modes from a CO2 perspective, not just cost and speed. The company says its Net Zero Carbon program leverages three fields of action: detection, reduction, and compensation of CO2.

That plan will affect not only the CO2 footprint of Kuehne + Nagel's own operations but also its the transportation services performed by its suppliers - airlines, shipping lines, and haulage companies. The company has now targeted comprehensive CO2 neutralization by 2030, including a commitment for all less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments to be CO2-neutral from 2020 onwards. The company also includes CO2 reducing in its training programs, replacing business trips with video conferencing and compensating (or offsetting) unavoidable travel beginning in 2020.

"As one of the leading logistics companies worldwide, we acknowledge the responsibility we have for the environment, for our ecosystem and essentially for the people," Kuehne + Nagel CEO Detlef Trefzger said in a statement. "Today's announcement is based on a package of measures to fight CO2 emissions and provide sustainable and innovative supply chain solutions - hand in hand with our suppliers and customers. We thus support the aim of the Paris agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C."

Ben Ames is Editor at Large and a Senior Editor at Supply Chain Quarterly’s sister publication, DC Velocity.

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