Questions To Ask Your Climate Partner When Measuring Logistics And Transportation Emissions
There is increasing demand for businesses to reduce their transportation carbon emissions. On the one hand, there is the demand coming from downstream in the supply chain, ultimately, because the consumer is demanding it. At the same time, green initiatives and different types of regulations are making it so that enterprises must pay attention to environmental issues. From both the consumer and governance perspectives, real change is needed, and greenwashing is what companies need to guard against. Companies must be sure they have the necessary data, technology, and processes in place to effect change. More are working with climate partners to identify and address challenges they are navigating for the first time.
Companies have options when choosing their climate partners, but their solutions are not all created the same. That is why companies must ask questions to be sure they are working with a partner that can support their sustainability efforts, backed by reliable data and methodologies. When addressing transportation and logistics, there are simplified ways to measure and report on carbon emissions that only use approximations, and there are more in-depth methods. The challenge is that approximations often lead to incorrect conclusions and ineffective action plans, making a more detail-driven method necessary for more meaningful progress.
It is important to have discussions with any future climate partner to fully cover the ins and outs of how they handle carbon emissions reporting. Companies should do their due diligence, but they can also learn something. Especially with GHG emissions reporting being a relatively new area of focus that is quickly growing and evolving, there is much to learn. We recommend starting conversations with climate partners with the following six questions.
6 Questions To Ask Your Climate Partner
1. What Kind Of Data Do You Collect?
A successful carbon emissions tracking solution in transportation and logistics should be designed for the details of each mode of transport — road, air, rail, ocean, and inland waterways.
- Road: The solution should account for the type of truck, route, and freight, as these impact the total transportation carbon emissions.
- Air: It should take into account the exact distances, fuel, and type of aircraft for each flight phase.
- Ocean: It should include the exact vessel and engine type and their exact speeds and distances.
- Rail: The solution should be tailored for rail, not borrowing distances from roads, as that is imprecise and only an estimate.
- Likewise, the solution should use the exact distances and type of vessel for inland waterways.
By factoring in these specifics for each mode of transport, a comprehensive and accurate carbon emissions tracking solution in transportation and logistics can be achieved.
2. How Is That Data Used To Measure Emissions?
The next question is where the topic of emissions reporting can become more complex. There is more than one way to use emissions data in the calculation. The methodology can result in accurate and precise GHG emissions reporting or reporting that is unreliable enough to base decisions on.
Between default data, primary data, and modeled data, modeled is the method that provides both accuracy and precision because it is derived from primary data with added degrees of specificity with the exact scenario for which it is used. For example, modeled data will be specific to a precise vessel and its exact journey rather than an average or estimation.
The methodology of data lends itself to the larger approach a climate partner may recommend to reduce carbon emissions from transportation. Modeled data contributes to the accurate calculation of baseline numbers. When a company makes changes within its operations, the modeled methodology is essential to evaluating the results of its efforts and informing further improvements to meet its CO2 emission goals.
3. Do You Have Any Tools Or Models That Can Help Us Understand The Emissions Impacts Of Our Logistics And Transportation Operations?
Looking at the methodology and approach a climate partner uses to measure actual carbon emissions is only one aspect of the process of reducing emissions. The biggest part is what happens between measuring the baseline and measuring results—informing decisions by understanding the data as well as the effects of different options.
A climate partner should have tools to help with this. Data analysis, for one, can help identify the biggest opportunities for improvement. Still, this data also needs something to compare it to, like a carbon emissions calculator for alternative routing options. A calculator can show the change in carbon emissions that can be expected from making certain routing decisions, providing a foundation for decisions.
4. What Strategies Can You Suggest To Reduce Our Emissions?
Moving away from the high-level overview of methodologies and approaches, the discussion should move into the details of strategies the climate partner recommends as a plan of action for measurable progress. Going back to the carbon emissions calculator, if a climate partner helps the shipper understand the risk profiles of using certain carriers and routes, they can better identify the biggest opportunities for reducing carbon emissions.
The main routes or trade lanes a shipper relies on may not necessarily be the opportunities to target. It depends more on the profile of the carrier and the standard deviation of carbon emissions for a particular service. The strategy, in this case, is to target some of the most easily attainable opportunities rather than attack the biggest source of emissions without data to back it up. Climate partners should be able to recommend strategies like this based on the data and tools they supply.
5. What Technologies Do You Recommend To Track And Reduce Emissions?
The next part of choosing a climate partner is understanding the full scope of technology they provide—any solutions to gather data for calculation or provide data to assist with different workflows. Many climate partners have built easy-to-integrate and easy-to-use APIs that facilitate this data exchange. For example, a shipper can use a CO2 API for supplying carbon emissions data for sourcing decisions, made available in their management system of choice. Similarly, climate partners may offer a routing API to provide accurate distances for predicting arrival times and fuel consumption or a vessel tracking API that uses satellite and terrestrial AIS data to pinpoint the location of vessels throughout their journey. These types of APIs help remove barriers to using a climate partner’s data and insights in everyday processes.
6. What Kind Of Reporting Do You Provide To Measure Our Progress?
Carbon emissions reporting should be a repeating process of making changes, tracking the impacts, reviewing results, and setting new goals at regular intervals, like monthly or quarterly. Companies need a system designed for continued tracking and comparison, breaking down carbon emissions by transport type, carrier, vehicle or vessel type, routes, ports, and more, so that they can compare against industry norms.
A dashboard is an easy way to view emissions data at a glance as well as provide in-depth analysis. Many climate partners have their own dashboards available to use, and some provide their data files for a company to use when designing their own dashboard. What is important to look for is a climate partner that can offer the flexibility needed in the delivery method for data analytics and reporting.
Why Choosing The Right Climate Partner Matters
The right climate partner can help companies track their emissions, measure their progress, and comply with industry standards and regulations, while providing the necessary tools and resources to manage their data and ensure its integrity. They must have reliable and data-driven approaches to reducing carbon emissions, using accurate and precise data. Climate partners also provide guidance and support in implementing sustainable practices in their transportation and logistics operations. Having a trusted and knowledgeable climate partner can be a crucial factor in helping companies achieve their emissions goals and maintain a competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving landscape.
Start The Conversation With Searoutes Today
The recommendations we’ve given here, surrounding the six questions to ask climate partners, are how Searoutes provides shippers carbon emissions-related support. Through our carefully-engineered data methodologies, strategies, and technology used for each mode of transport, we offer the highest quality of measurements and reporting to help shippers create an effective plan of action toward sustainability goals. Being the only API-first provider of transportation and logistics emissions data, one of Searoutes’ main goals is to ensure carbon emissions data is accessible and easy to use. Together, we can make better progress toward reduced emissions. To learn more, reach out to Searoutes and book a demo with us today.