Calculating CO2

October 24th, 2013 - Transport companies must measure carbon footprints for clients in France

A new French law requires transport providers to report emissions for the first time.

​In the latest battle against climate change, the French government now requires all companies transporting goods into and from France to reveal the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted during the journey.

The new law, effective from the beginning of October, is aimed at tackling the growing problem of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by the transport sector. It’s the first of its kind in Europe and will likely lead importers and exporters to rethink their transport options. 

“Companies are becoming more aware of the carbon footprint of their supply chains,” says Philippe Maesen, operational sustainable development project manager at Bolloré Logistics in France. “Many want to make their logistics more sustainable and demonstrate their green credentials.” 

The French government hopes the new law will help it reduce transport sector emissions by 20 percent by 2050. There is some way to go. Transport ranks the biggest source of greenhouse gases in France with 25.3 percent of all GHG emissions, according to the government (ninety-five percent of these emissions are from road transport). 

For now, France is focusing on reporting requirements. Under the new rules, all types of transport providers from bus and train companies to taxis and freight forwarders must inform their clients of the CO2 emissions generated by the journey within two months of providing the service. 

The provider can choose how it calculates and communicates these emissions. At Bolloré Logistics, for example, the information is consolidated by operation, so that clients receive their total carbon footprint for sending goods from say Paris to Hong Kong, says Maesen. Clients receive the information through SDV’s online tracking system, he adds.

The calculation tools used by the Bolloré Group are verified by an independent company, Bureau Veritas. The rules have to be “honest, coherent and transparent,” Maesen says.

The emissions are calculated using averages for each form of transport. At the top of the scale, transportation by long-haul airfreight emits 1 238 grams of CO2 per ton-kilometre while transport by sea freight emits 13.4 grams. Heavy goods trucks, meanwhile, emit a high average 83 grams of CO2.

SDV first started calculating CO2 emissions for its clients in 2010 as part of its SAVE PROGRAM that helps companies improve their environmental performance. Maesen estimates that last year alone, SDV produced around 200 tailor-made CO2 reports for its clients. 

It’s unclear whether the legal requirement to declare greenhouse gas emissions in France will speed up the introduction of a carbon tax for the transport industry, says Maesen, although the trend is clearly in that direction.

Key Figures
  • 20%

    More fuel-efficient for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350

  • 70%

    of Urbanisation is expected by 2050

  • 27

    mega-cities are expected by 2050, with at least 10 million people, compared to 1...

  • +18,4%

    of growth for E-commerce retail market in Europe in 2015

  • 82%

    of goods are moved by road

  • 1 billion

    Population in Africa

  • 60%

    of Africa’s population will be urbanized by 2050

  • 7,5%

    of growth for Indian GDP in 2014

  • 4,9%

    of growth for African GDP in 2016

  • 6,1%

    of growth for East Asian GDP in 2015, the world’s fastest-growing region

  • 19 224 teus

    transported by the MSC Oscar, the largest container ship in the world

  • 396 m

    is the size of the MSC Oscar ship

  • 120 h

    is the Non-Stop Flight Record done by Solar Impulse

  • 4,5%

    of growth in 2015 for Global Airfreight demand