Tuesday, 17 August 2010

CDP publishes a transport industry report – plenty of scope for green IT

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has published a report on the transport industry. It’s based on information received from the world’s 291 largest publicly traded transportation companies as part of the CDP’s annual climate change information-gathering exercise. The CDP survey is fairly broad, covering emissions counting and management, corporate governance around climate change and also the risks and opportunities that climate change presents.

The full report is here, but among the findings were:

• The vast majority of transport sector emissions comes from road transport - 80%. Air transport represents 13%, with rail just 0.5%.


• South American and European companies lead in putting emission reduction plans in place. Of the CDP transportation sector responses, 60% of companies in South America and 52% in Europe have set an emissions reduction plan, compared with 47% in the US and Canada and just 18% in Asia.

• Transportation companies are lagging behind Global 500 corporations in setting emissions reduction targets. Only 36% of the largest 291 transportation companies have set targets, compared with 51% of the largest global companies as a whole.

• Nearly half of the world’s largest transportation companies
have not yet recognised the risks and opportunities from climate change. While 53% cite regulatory risks and 59% cite regulatory opportunities, this is lower than for the global 500 companies – 64% and 69% respectively. It does seem, though, that for those that do recognise the risks it’s not just regulatory - increased operating costs, extreme weather and associated disruption were also cited.

• Some companies report a competitive advantage from carbon efficient products and cost savings from increased fuel efficiency, while others are developing opportunities in new low carbon fuels and advanced technology vehicles.

• A small minority are reporting significant investments in carbon reductions and low carbon technologies. Significant capital is flowing into the development of low carbon solutions in the sector. New technologies include installation of renewable energy systems; developing more efficient transport routes, low
carbon fuels, and innovative vehicle design; or product innovation into hybrids or electric powered vehicles.


It does seem odd that transportation companies are lagging behind in setting emissions targets, but then I guess the industry doesn’t get some of the direct feedback, such as brand pressure, that retail companies, for example, may feel. On the other hand, retail suppliers are increasingly looking at their supply chain to reduce emissions, so it will come.

More surprising is the lack of acknowledgement of the risks and opportunities. Transport may very well be in the front line of regulatory action in the future through things like road usage pricing, etc. It is also the most vulnerable to disruption through extreme weather events.

There’s lots of green IT available to help make road transport more efficient, plan routes better, enable real-time reaction to disruption, etc. Early adopters are likely to have a clear competitive advantage, but few seem to have realised the fact.

© The Green IT Review

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