Measuring and managing CO2 emissions in European chemical transport

Alan Campbell McKinnon, Maja Piecyk

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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    This report examines the options for measuring and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transporting chemicals produced in Europe. It is based on a review of literature, the results of a preliminary survey of large chemical companies undertaken by Cefic, interviews with senior logistics managers in the chemical industry and a high-level workshop on the subject convened by Cefic. The study also investigated the measurement of carbon emissions from transport in other industrial sectors to see what lessons, if any, can be learned by chemical companies.
    The report begins by considering the reasons why companies need to carbon footprint their transport operations. It then discusses a series of key issues that must be resolved when designing a carbon measurement system for freight transport. These include the choice of approach (either energy-based or activity-based), the definition of corporate, functional, system and geographical boundaries around the logistics system to be audited, the types of greenhouse gas (GHG) and transport modes to be included in the calculation, the degree of analytical disaggregation and assumptions to made about the allocation of emissions from the empty repositioning of vehicles and containers.
    We then review the published data, at both European and national levels, on carbon emission factors for the various transport modes used by chemical companies. A range of values exist for each mode reflecting differences in primary data sources and assumptions about vehicle load factors, fuel efficiency and type of energy (for electrified railfreight services). Tables have been compiled to show the range of values reported in published reports and data-sets. A series of average emission factors are then recommended for the movement of chemicals by each of the transport modes, taking account of the particular characteristics of chemical logistics. In the case of trucking, the dominant mode of chemical transport, matrices are presented to show how the average emission factors vary with the weight-based loading factor and percentage of empty running. Given the diversity of waterborne freight services, separate average emission factors are provided for different types of short-sea and deep-sea operations. Mode-specific emission factors have been combined to derive composite emission factors for inter-modal freight services.
    As the European chemical industry is not alone in trying to carbon footprint its transport operations, a comparison has been made of similar initiatives in nine other sectors: cement, fertiliser, steel, metal cans, bitumen, wine and spirits, food, paper and board / packaging and postal services. Several of these sectors, such as fertiliser, packaging and wines and spirits, have gone through a similar process to the European chemical industry in adopting an activity-based approach to the carbon footprinting
    of transport.
    Overall, however, the chemical industry appears to be one of the most progressive sectors in its measurement of transport-related emissions.
    Having measured these emissions, the next stage is for companies to develop strategies for reducing them. The remainder of the report examines a range of decarbonisation measures for chemical transport operations within a ‘green logistics’ framework. This framework focuses attention on five key parameters: freight modal split, supply chain structure (i.e. number and length of links in the supply chain), vehicle utilisation, energy efficiency and the carbon intensity of the energy source. Opportunities for altering each of these parameters is assessed. Consideration is also given to the general cost-effectiveness of these decarbonisation measures. Available data suggests that most of the measures which cut carbon emissions also reduce costs and prove self-financing in the short to medium term.
    The concluding section shows how, as the availability of data on energy use, load factors and consignment routing increases, the measurement of carbon emissions from chemical transport can evolve from the current activity-based approach to a more accurate and flexible energy-based approach.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages38
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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