Calculating Emissions Along Supply Chains – is Standardisation for a Global Approach Within Reach?

Calculating Emissions Along Supply Chains – is Standardisation for a Global Approach Within Reach?


A Lewis, Transport & Travel Research Ltd, UK; V Ehrler, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), DE;K Makela, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, FI; O Eidhammer, Institute of Transport Economics, NO


Problems with carbon footprinting initiatives remain in terms of comparability, transparency and accuracy of these carbon footprint calculations. This paper will present progress towards a unified approach to carbon footprinting of supply chains.


The European Union (EU) has stated that global temperatures should not exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C in order to keep impacts of climate change at a manageable level. To achieve this target, industrialised countries and regions, including the EU, are expected to reduce their total annual Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 30% up to 2020 and by 60-80% by 2050, compared to 1990 emission levels.

Such a reduction requires a global standard, applicable for all forms of supply chains, in order to establish actual emissions levels and to provide for a basis for comparison between different supply chains, product-level calculations and the development of trends over time. Several initiatives have been started to provide for such a standard: for example, EN 16258:2011 a draft version of the new CEN-norm, the SmartWay initiative, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Consignment Carbon project and at a higher level application of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Even though all initiatives have the same aim, i.e. calculating emissions, they have different approaches. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of existing approaches towards a standardised emissions calculation, based on the work of the COFRET project. COFRET is a collaborative research and demonstration project part-funded by the European Commission. COFRET closely cooperates with a number of existing initiatives with a view to developing a methodology that harmonises the best elements of existing methodologies and initiatives. COFRET will develop and test a methodology and framework for the accurate calculation of carbon emissions, considering all modes of transport in the supply chain, so filling the gaps between the existing methods and allowing a consistent approach across different modes or combinations of supply chain elements.

Within the COFRET project an extended analysis of currently used tools has been undertaken, complemented by an in-depth analysis of user needs for future developments of CO2 emissions calculation tools. Over 90 existing tools for CO2 emissions were analysed, over 400 questionnaires were sent out to users of these tools and more than 40 in-depth interviews were held with them. Furthermore two workshops were held in order to establish user needs and requirements for future developments of CO2 emissions calculation methods.

This contribution will map out the findings of the various analyses. Furthermore it will show which next steps are required in terms of methodological development in order to enable shippers and logistic service providers to measure their CO2 footprint from door to door and outline current progress towards meeting the overall objectives.


Association for European Transport