On 12 December 2015, the Paris Agreement was agreed on by nearly 200 countries. The subscribers consented to reduce CO2 emissions within 2030 in order to limit the ongoing global warming to a maximum temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Lately, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), responsible for coordinating actions on environmental issues within the United Nations System, has released its last Emission Gap Report. Unfortunately, the document shows that countries are still far from achieving their goal and that the planet is going towards an increase in its temperature of about 2.7 degrees Celsius in this century.
The logistic sector alone accounts for about 24% of the total amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that such a big part of logistics as transportation takes appropriate measures to contribute to lowering this percentage.
As the catastrophic consequences of global warming are already well known, let us focus on its general causes and on what can be done to limit it.
How does global warming work?
It is common knowledge that global warming is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases and of water vapor, but how does that exactly work?
Sun rays cross our atmosphere as sunlight and are absorbed by the earth which transforms and releases them as infrared energy (heat). The little percentage of CO2 molecules naturally present in the atmosphere intercept these infrared rays and re-emit them in every direction. Part of these rays go back to the earth, contributing to keeping the temperature of our planet fit for human habitation, the other part crosses the atmosphere and goes out into space.
At least, this is what should happen.
What actually does happen is that many of those infrared rays which are supposed to freely leave our atmosphere, get trapped by the amount of CO2, and other greenhouse gases that exponentially increased after the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and contribute to heating up the planet.
In addition, as a consequence of a higher temperature, there is extra production of water vapor which, trapping even more infrared waves, adds to the global warming effect.
How can we put a stop to global warming?
Seen that there is no way of influencing or limiting the amount of water vapor production, the only other variable that can be controlled is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
After the insufficient results of the Paris Agreement, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set the goal of cutting CO2 emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050. The term ‘net zero’ refers to a situation in which the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere equals the amount of CO2 that abandons it. As a consequence, the global warming effect would stop due to the balance reached between the heat energy reaching the planet and that escaping into space.
In order to reach net zero, however, the CO2 in the atmosphere must be reduced. This process of decarbonization must be actively carried out because the natural assimilation of carbon dioxide by oceans, soil, rocks, and organisms is extremely slow, therefore inadequate to compensate for the excess of CO2 produced by human activities.
Apart from helping the natural assimilation of CO2 by reforestation, or using technology to actively catch carbon from the atmosphere and store it in rocks or oceans, it is important to reduce as much as possible CO2 emissions.
How can the logistic sector contribute to decarbonization?
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2018 transportation was responsible for about 26% of the global CO2 emissions. Aiming for a substantial reduction of carbon emissions in the freight industry, therefore, can greatly impact the process toward net zero emissions.
As difficult as it might seem, the goal of zero emissions by 2050 is not impossible. Many strategies are already in force in order to reduce CO2 production such as the use of alternative fuels. The ‘Mobility Package 02’, also known as the ‘Clean Mobility Package’, for example, includes a proposal to maximize the allowed weight of trucks on the roads in order to increase the payload and decrease CO2 emissions.
This proposal is based on the same idea of the Emons Cargo 2WIN concept: load more and drive less. The 2WIN double deck trailers, in fact, have been devised to load up to 64% more volume thanks to two decks and the extra space between the wheel arches. Two 2WIN can ship more load than three standard trailers contributing to a reduction of CO2 emissions of up to 40%.
Likewise essential in every environmental strategy is transparency. It is very well possible that report data about CO2 emissions will become mandatory. Even before this happens, however, it is only fitting that freight companies would be aware of their CO2 production and be able to inform their customers about it. That is the reason why Emons Cargo makes use of a tool like BigMile to calculate and keep a constant eye on its carbon footprint.
Last but not least in importance is the contribution companies can make by compensating for their CO2 emissions. There are several programs and projects whose goal is to increase the number of trees and plants on the planet. Emons Cargo supports the Trees for All loyalty program and is growing a wooded area that grows with every kilometer driven by its 2WIN trucks.
As the logistic sector becomes more and more aware of the importance of improving its carbon footprint, a solution like the 2WIN concept stands out as a real game-changer in the run toward 2050 net zero emissions.