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Logistics Companies Face Pressure to Lower Emissions

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As the Paris climate talks spur corporations to pledge to reduce CO2 emissions, they’re putting pressure on the firms that transport their cargo to do the same

As world leaders met in Paris this week to hammer out initiatives to address climate change, cargo handling companies and transportation specialists were addressing some of the same questions at a conference here.

The freight industry contributes 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries and an even higher percentage in developing countries, according to research published Thursday by shipping software company Freightos.

Logistics companies are under pressure from their customers to reduce emissions, said Stephen Flowers, president of Global Freight Forwarding for UPS Supply Chain Solutions, speaking at the Cargo Logistics America conference Wednesday.

Dozens of large companies have recently made commitments to reducing their carbon footprint. As of this month, 154 companies had signed the White House’s “Act on Climate Pledge,” saying they’d support the outcomes of the COP21 climate conference in Paris and pledging to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 50% while deploying cleaner technologies. Those companies include United Parcel Service Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., General Electric Co., General Motors Co., Johnson & Johnson.

Many UPS customers are requesting commitments to meet particle emissions standards before they agree to do business with the logistics provider, Mr. Flowers said.

“As a transportation company that’s burning fuel every day, obviously there’s a significant expense associated with it and a significant impact on the environment, and our customers are looking for us to be much cleaner into the future,” Mr. Flowers said.

Freightos, which developed software to allow freight forwarders to quickly calculate price quotes for customers, offers a feature that calculates the carbon emitted by each cargo move.

At the climate talks in Paris on Thursday, participants presented a list of initiatives targeted at the international transportation industry for reducing emissions. Proposals included efforts to improve fuel efficiency, expand electric vehicle usage, and reduce pollutants from the freight sector through the adoption of national “green freight” programs.


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