Last month, I wrote in this column about climate change. Despite what many want to believe, climate change is very real. It’s more than just the natural cycles of climatology that are causing our Earth to warm. Humans are definitely involved.
However, it is time to put politics aside and stop arguing about who’s to blame. We all are. We all drive cars, consume products, and use energy to stay warm in the winter. We all contribute to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But there are practical things we can do to slow down global warming. As supply chain practitioners, we, more than most professionals, can have a positive impact on climate change.
First of all, we can improve how we source products. Using raw materials from sources closer to factories can reduce transportation miles. Locating production and distribution nearer to end-consumers can further trim those miles.
Maritime shipping is a significant contributor to global greenhouse-gas emissions. However, on Jan. 1, the industry took a huge step forward by requiring cargo vessels to switch to low-sulfur fuels. Such fuels reduce the emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, and ozone-depleting substances, which add to greenhouse gases.
CMA CGM announced in December that it will also become the first ocean carrier to deploy a mix of 80% low-sulfur fuel and 20% biofuel made from used cooking oil. The carrier claims this new fuel reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by 80%.
Some shipping lines will offset the increased costs of complying with the new regulations by slow steaming, which uses less fuel and reduces emissions. Shippers can be more earth-friendly by being willing to adjust their leadtimes accordingly.
The over-the-road transport sector can also look to alternative fuels. Biodiesel is renewable and produces one-quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions of regular diesel. Electric trucks are starting to hit the roads as well. Tesla reports more than 2,000 advance orders for its Tesla Semi trucks, due to begin production this year. Volvo and Daimler are also developing electric transport vehicles. To promote their adoption, carriers and shippers both need to push for the development of the necessary recharging infrastructure.
Facilities can also reduce their carbon footprint by installing solar panels and minimizing their reliance on coal-burning power plants. The use of skylights and efficient lighting can also save energy.
As an industry, let’s take the lead on climate change. We might actually find some cost savings along the road to a cleaner world.