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The ‘scope’ of emissions in transportation — Net-Zero Carbon

Renewable energy now considered low-hanging fruit by GNA expert

(Image: FreightWaves)

On this episode of Net-Zero Carbon, Danny Gomez, managing director of financial and emerging markets at FreightWaves, and Nate Springer, senior director of market development at Gladstein Neandross & Associates, clarified the differences among scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. They also discussed the interplay among those emissions and how to mitigate them.

“An increasing number of customers are beginning to ask all of their freight and transportation partners for information on GHG emissions,” Springer said.

The GHG Protocol, a widely used set of standards to measure GHG emissions, was created to fairly measure and avoid double-counting emissions, he said. Scope 1 emissions include “everything you are directly responsible for.” A big part of scope 1 emissions for fleets comes from fuel usage.

Scope 2 emissions largely come from electricity the company purchases and uses. Scope 3 is “everything else” on the company’s supply chain, including upstream and downstream activities and use of products, Springer said.

Springer and Gomez said fleets’ emissions are typically more concentrated in scopes 1 and scope 2, whereas large retailers’ scope 3 emissions could make up about 90% of their overall emissions.

Transportation passed electricity as the largest source of GHG emissions a couple of years ago, Springer said. Transportation also has more opportunities to reduce emissions than sectors such as cement production, which is very carbon-intensive.

Along the entire supply chain, “efficiency is going to be your number one go-to and great low-hanging fruit,” Springer said.

Warehouse owners can replace less efficient lighting with LEDs, install more efficient HV/AC units and use more effective insulation. Low-hanging fruit for fleets and shippers includes mode shifting and switching to biofuels and renewable fuels

Renewable energy is a low-hanging fruit opportunity because the cost of renewable electricity production has decreased and financial tools have developed to make the process easier, Springer said.

For electric vehicles charging with power from the grid, the emissions associated with charging vary significantly depending on the state and local energy mix. States that use more coal have higher electricity emissions than states that use more renewable energy.

View all of FreightWaves’ Net-Zero Carbon episodes and sustainability stories.

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.