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Survey shows multiple factors driving logistics carbon emissions agenda

A survey on carbon emissions within the logistics sector conducted by the BIFA has revealed the multiple factors that are driving change.
carbon emissions - logistics - shipping

An industry survey on carbon emissions within the logistics sector conducted by the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has revealed that it is not just legislation that is driving change, but client pressure and internal initiatives are also increasingly significant factors.

The survey was conducted in association with Pledge, a decarbonisation software platform for transport and logistics, with which BIFA is in partnership, to evaluate how much the growing awareness of the importance of this issue, tempered by some scepticism, is impacting on the business activities of freight forwarders and logistics service providers.

There were four straightforward questions which yielded some interesting results.

The outcome can be summarised as indicating that there is growing awareness of measuring carbon emissions from the shipment of freight amongst BIFA members. The results showed that for 69.05% of the respondents, calculating emissions was playing some sort of role within their day-to-day activities, whilst for 15.48% it was deeply rooted in their business activities.

The answer to ‘what factors were driving this change?’, produced an unexpected response – the perceived wisdom has always been that regulation would drive change and for 15.48% this was still the case. 

However, for 28.57% of Members, client pressure is the main contributor, whilst even more surprising, internal initiatives accounted for 30.95% of replies to this question.

The findings of the survey support BIFA’s belief that the use of IT systems to facilitate the integration of transport management with carbon calculation systems is key to the successful recording and reporting of carbon emissions. This is the first step to considering how to reduce these emissions, potentially via modal shift and, where that is not practical, via measures such as carbon offsetting.

The final question concerned funding of programmes designed to calculate carbon emissions. Whilst 22.62% of respondents had an annual budget of less than a £1,000 to spend on carbon emissions calculation, a much healthier 30.95% had between £1,000 and £9,000 to spend. The financial budgets of a further 14.29% of Members exceeded £20,000. The balance preferred not to say.

The conclusion of the survey is that there has been growing awareness of environmental issues amongst the BIFA membership and, to some extent, a growing awareness of the need to measure carbon emissions and provide that information to clients.

It will be particularly challenging for SMEs to determine how they will use this data and what they can actually do to reduce their carbon emissions – the general consensus is that significant changes will be required. Although what these will be are not clear at the moment.

BIFA director general, Steve Parker
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