Urgent Couriers of Auckland, New Zealand, is also concentrating on reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per dollar earned, and in the past two years its “carbon intensity” has fallen from 168 grammes per dollar (g/$) of sales to 151 g/$. This has largely been achieved by increasing the proportion of low-emission vehicles in its fleet from 25 to 60 per cent.
“Urgent Couriers has gained a number of clients because of its climate neutral position. We have also significantly increased our brand profile by highlighting our climate neutrality,” says Urgent Couriers’ Steve Bonnici.
To meet the climate neutral criteria, the company agrees to buy offsets approved by a New Zealand certification system known as the carboNZero programme. But Bonnici says this does not mean the company stops looking for further emission cuts. “Once you make the commitment to pay for your unavoidable emissions you become very focused on reduction,” he says.
“Once you make the commitment to pay for your unavoidable emissions you become very focused on reduction.” —Steve Bonnici, Urgent Couriers
With road transport accounting for the bulk of emissions in the sector, the leading car manufacturer Toyota Motor Europe was among the first to come on board the Climate Neutral Network. In addition to being a well-known pioneer of hybrid cars—more than 200,000 have now been sold in Europe—Toyota’s European operations are aiming at climate neutrality through measures such as avoiding energy waste, use of renewable power and offsetting travel for business meetings. The company is also investigating the possibility of using carbon capture and storage as the final step towards car- bon neutrality.
Toyota Motor Europe’s Alaa Salama says the greatest contribution a company like his can make is in developing technologies to make vehicles more fuel-efficient—but a much wider effort is needed if emissions from the sector are really going to fall.
“In addition to efforts made by vehicle manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency, it is important for governments and the private sector to work together on challenges such as reducing traffic congestion and improving driving methods, motivating the switch to low-carbon fuels, and efficiently utilizing transport resources,” says Salama.
A carbon-neutral motorway sounds like a contradiction in terms. But one member of the network, Autostrada Ek- sploatacja, is applying the principle to its maintenance and safety operations on a stretch of the A2 toll road between Konin and Września in Poland.
With the bulk of its emissions coming from electricity use and its maintenance vehicles (it does not, of course, count the vehicles using the motorway), the company is looking for savings such as more efficient road lighting, although the current recession has so far meant that this investment has been put on hold.
The carbon neutral strategy is based on the responsibility being taken by the company to care for trees and other plants lining the motorway, which it estimates to absorb more carbon dioxide than the emissions of the company.
Autostrada Eksploatacja’s Jacek Dymowski says that for a company like this, heavily dependent on the use of electricity, the level of emissions is largely beyond its control.
“Unfortunately, more than 90 per cent of electricity in Poland comes from coal burning, There is no opportunity to buy any ‘greener’ energy for us, we are not able to change the macroeconomic aspects of our economy. So we have to buy this ‘dirty’ energy.”
A similar dilemma faces the European rail industry. Even though railways are widely seen as the greenest form of transport, their actual emissions are largely dependent on the source of the electricity which powers them—and this varies greatly according to which country they operate in.
Even so, the International Union of Railways (UIC), incorporating leading companies such as Deutsche Bahn, Eurostar and Danish Railways, has become the latest member