The EU has stated that, in order to keep the impact of climate change at a manageable level, meaning that we will be able to adapt to them, the global temperature should not exceed the pre-industrial level by more than 2 °C. To achieve this target, developed countries and regions, including the EU, are expected to reduce their total annual greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to 1990, by 30 % in 2020 and by a further 60–80 % by 2050.
The mid-term review of the 2001 transport policy White Paper in 2006, Keep Europe Moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent (EC 2006a), recognised that the measures proposed in the White Paper were insufficient and pointed to the need for a broader, more flexible, transport policy toolbox.
As a symptom of this, energy use and the associated carbon emissions from the freight element of the transport sector grew faster than in almost any other sector between 1995 and 2005. This is despite the greening of freight transport at the operational level gaining prominence over the last two or three years, as many stakeholders began to bundle their strategies, technical developments and operational concepts for reduction of transport carbon emissions. This trend demonstrates clearly that many stakeholders in the freight transport sector in the EU-27 have recognised that additional worldwide efforts are necessary to reduce overall carbon emissions.
In recent years several national Government, industry-led and commercial initiatives have emerged that address the issues of calculating and reducing CO2 emissions within various elements of the freight transport supply chain. These initiatives provide an extremely valuable starting point. Meanwhile the European Committee for Standardization, CEN, published EN 16258 "Methodology for calculation and declaration of energy consumption and GHG emissions of transport services (freight and passengers)". However, potential inconsistencies in approach within what is a global industry (for example, in terms of which greenhouse gases are taken into account or whether emissions from particular supply chain elements are included in the calculation) continue to present problems in terms of comparability of the carbon footprint and representation of freight transport supply chain with sufficient accuracy.
COFRET was formulated to work with existing initiatives in terms of alignment of content and approach, and to use this to help in our approach to standardisation of carbon footprinting for supply chains and supply chain elements.
A final element of the COFRET exploitation strategy has been to work with DIN, ISO, Smart Freight Centre and many workshop participants to establish an International Workshop Agreement titled "International Harmonized Method(s) for a Coherent Quantification of CO2e Emissions of Freight Transport". This will be available shortly from standard ISO sources.