The global transportation industry could make deep cuts in carbon emissions—and cut its own costs at the same time—just by using technology readily available in the marketplace, says an advocate of market-driven approaches to climate change.
Peter Boyd, director of operations for the Carbon War Room, told an audience at the joint meeting of the National Industrial Transportation League, the Intermodal Association of North America, and the Transportation Intermediaries Association last month that attacking climate change can create wealth and jobs "while saving the planet."
The Carbon War Room is a non-governmental organization founded by Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, and others with the purpose of linking entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policy makers to develop market approaches to reducing carbon emissions.
Boyd contended that reducing emissions on a global scale requires a combination of policy, capital, and technology. "Policy alone is not enough," he said. "It is necessary but not sufficient. Our piece is to get the capital moving." While there is no "silver bullet" available to sharply reduce emissions, multiple opportunities exist to make investments that at worst would result in a zero net cost, he claimed. Successful programs would require annual investment of about $550 billion worldwide, Boyd said, but he added that this represents a shift of about 1 percent of annual capital spending around the globe.
Boyd held out maritime shipping as an example of an area where major reductions in emissions could be achieved. Ocean vessels are among the leading contributors to carbon emissions, with about a billion tons of CO2 emissions annually, according to the Carbon War Room. About 15,000 of the 100,000 ocean-going vessels worldwide are responsible for the bulk of those emissions.
The industry could reduce emissions by 250 million tons by 2020 just by employing currently available tools, Boyd said. He noted that technology already exists that could boost fuel efficiency by 30 percent, with returns on the investment inside of three years. Simply using new hull coatings could improve efficiency by 10 percent, he said.
The Carbon War Room has initiated a project to develop a vessel efficiency index of all ocean-going vessels worldwide. At the same time, the organization is developing approaches to attract capital investments for improving vessel efficiency.
A profitable, green supply chain, Boyd argues, is possible. "This can be done," he said. "Business as usual is not a pretty picture."