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Berlin Workshop - 19th January 2012



Berlin workshop

19th January, 2012



The first COFRET workshop was held in Berlin on 19th January 2012 where members of the COFRET consortium were able to meet and hold in-depth discussions with representatives of shippers, logistics providers, international shipping lines and not-for profit organisations among others.

The workshop discussions were set in the context of the need for a globally harmonized carbon footprint calculation methodology for freight transport. Among those present were representatives involved in several industry-led initiatives already working towards carbon footprinting solutions covering specific transport elements within the supply chain, such as SmartWay Europe, Eco TransIT, Clean Cargo Working Group and also involved in the CEN Working Group 320.

The workshop started with introductory presentations from Bjorn Hannappel and Magnus Swahn which addressed, respectively:

  1. The SmartWay Europe initiative (soon to be renamed) that is currently being developed by shippers and transport providers to address measurement and reduction of CO2 emissions from road freight transport within Europe (Presentation)
  2. Some of the challenges that have been addressed and which remain when developing user friendly carbon footprint calculation methodologies (Presentation)

The main part of the workshop was arranged in parallel sessions, by dividing the participants in two groups. In the first group the discussion followed a semi-structured template with questions concerning the different elements of a calculation methodology. In the second group the discussion had a more open format.

These discussions were very constructive and provided some key pointers for the development of the COFRET methodology:

  • The need for an approach to carbon footprint calculations that can be applied consistently across all modes
  • A methodology that will allow transparent comparison between different transport providers and supply chain options
  • Data requirements which draw as much as possible on simple data from existing systems
  • Additional guidance to improve the credibility of results, even within existing standards
  • Consistency between emerging European standards and future global standards

Four reasons were identified for why users calculate their emissions:

  1. to increase energy efficiency,
  2. for internal controlling,
  3. for their customers on different levels (e.g. product level) and
  4. to see the effect of different company initiatives on the carbon footprint.

The most important weaknesses with current practices can be summarized as:

  1. differences in calculation methods lead to incomparable results,
  2. data gathering, including lack of primary data,
  3. missing interfaces to tools used (a) by subcontractors, (b) in other companies and (c) in other countries,
  4. developed or used tools focus only on one transport mode e.g. road, now there is need to improve the current tools to include other transportation modes,
  5. allocation of emissions to different supply elements and partners in the supply chain, such as different shipments in the same vehicle,
  6. intermodal routing,
  7. the need for increasing transparency, and
  8. the limitation to transport processes (not covering warehousing, terminals).

With these points in mind the results from the two parallel sessions are summarized below. This information will be used as part of the input that will shape the future development of the COFRET methodology.

  • Transparency of the methodology and its logic is of utmost importance. COFRET should also provide a clear guideline in which it is explained why the different indicators are used.
  • COFRET should bring different approaches together and develop a consistent methodology that links them in a coherent manner. Close cooperation with SmartWay Europe, the World Economic Forum and GHG-protocol is considered as very important for the success of COFRET.
  • In cases where the CEN standard gives two options (allocation) the COFRET methodology should recommend the preferred option to be more user friendly and give more comparable results (CEN+).
  • Comparability and compatibility are essential as stakeholders may use the results for comparison of different providers on all levels of the supply chain, ranging from transportation service to individual products, and its related carbon footprint at the end of the supply chain.
  • The COFRET methodology needs to be able to include data from subcontractors in a flexible way. Ideally subcontractors should provide emission data per transport service to a logistics service provider.
  • As the CEN standard uses energy and CO2e, it was agreed that this is most beneficial for COFRET as well. Workshop attendants agreed that there is no need for quoting other GHG emissions when CO2e is included. Absolute numbers, i.e. the total amount of CO2e, should be the main output. When absolute numbers are provided relative numbers are easy to calculate as well if desired, and relative numbers may be useful for measuring company improvements.
  • It was agreed that shipment level is the most disaggregated unit for the purpose of COFRET. Therefore, the most desired input in a calculation methodology should be shipment level. Output on shipment level will not be very accurate unless the input is shipment level as well, and this must be reflected in a methodology. A view was that on shared transport systems, one has to calculate shipment levels on an average level, or else the methodology becomes too complex. If e.g. different products are dropped off at different places and some products need cooling, it becomes too difficult to divide the emissions between freight shipment by shipment consistently. On a dedicated transport system however (e.g. max 2 users) it should be possible to allocate CO2e and energy use shipment by shipment.
  • Weight and volume should both be considered for different cases. A clear allocation principle should be made, and the best is to exceed the CEN standard in that regard (since the CEN standard to some degree makes the choice between weight and volume optional). This could for instance be to define cargo on the loading unit which is limiting in most of the cases for each mode of transport (e.g. weight for air freight and volume for ferries).
  • The COFRET calculation methodology should allow the calculation of emissions along global supply chains, either through clearly defined interfaces or by incorporating already existing tools and methods from Asia and the US.
  • The COFRET methodology should be based on primary data sources and default values should be avoided as much as possible. A calculation tool based on this methodology should also be able to notify about the level of detail of the input data. There are three main ways of doing this: (1) report uncertainty, (2) report the input data used and/or (3) have some sort of punishing mechanism for bad data.
  • Default values should be allowed where input data is not provided. In case subcontractors report based on the CEN standard, the most detailed information must be transmitted.
  • The preferred situation is to make automatic calculations using existing data where possible. If different IT systems are to be used, there must be consistency of the data in the different systems.
  • Assuming non-transport logistics operations are to be included, transport, warehouses and handling need to be defined as three separate elements, and three different methodologies needs to be defined. The most important thing is clear definitions – what should be included in e.g. terminal handling, and what is just a result of the infrastructure conditions (e.g. transshipment to storage)? Cooling should also be included in the transport methodology by clear allocation rules if the cooling device is provided with energy from the engine of a transport vehicle/vessel. 


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