We use cookies on this site, but we don't capture any personal information. View our privacy policy.

What happens if I decline cookies?

If you decline cookies, we will suppress Google Analytics and any future third-party cookies on this site, but please note that the site also uses essential cookies as permitted under the UK's Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations for purposes such as remembering which items you may have selected or opened as you move from page to page.

To reject ALL cookies and continue to use this site, please amend your browser settings, but if you do, please be aware that some parts of the site will not work as intended.

For more information, see our Privacy policy page.

Accept cookies     Decline cookies      Reset     Close

Visit Alan McKinnon's LinkedIn page



Alan McKinnon – Professor of Logistics

THE 
LOGISTICS BLOG

Current issues in logistics and transport

Globalising Green Freight Transport

Over the past three months I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the ‘greening’ of freight transport with senior people in government and business in many East African and South East Asian countries. I have been greatly heartened by their commitment to the cause of cleaning-up the movement of freight.

There is now wide acceptance that trucks are to blame for much of the air pollution in these countries and that freight transport is going to be one of the toughest sectors to decarbonise. There is also an eagerness to learn lessons from Western countries about how to devise and implement green freight programmes.

Organisations such as the Smart Freight Centre, GIZ, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNCTAD and UNEP are doing a good job in disseminating knowledge and best practice and I’ve been doing my bit to help. This experience has made me all too aware of three basic issues.

First, in the ‘green freight world’ there is certainly no one-size-fits-all. Strategies to cut freight emissions have to be tailored to local circumstances: to the level of economic development, the maturity of the logistics market, the state of the transport infrastructure, the quality of the fuel, skill levels, business practices and what, euphemistically, might be called the degree of regulatory compliance. Bribing officials to turn a blind eye to vehicle overloading or the belching of black smoke from truck exhausts is endemic across much of the developing world. In the course of greening freight transport one cannot hope to correct wider societal ills, but a more subtle use of carrots and sticks is required in those countries where corruption is rife.

Second, developing countries whose logistics systems are at an earlier stage in their evolution have the opportunity to avoid some of the environmental pitfalls that now afflict the developed ones. For example, centralising inventory in distribution centres far removed from the nearest railway line or canal can create long-term logistical ‘lock-in’ to road transport. This subsequently constrains one of the most effective of all green freight options – switching transport mode. The relentless pursuit of just-in-time replenishment has also left many logistics systems more environmentally damaging than they need to be. Emerging markets don’t have to follow the same logistics development pathways as Western countries: they can learn from their experience and try to embed environmental sustainability into their logistics planning at an earlier stage.

The third issue relates to the international trade in second-hand trucks. As road transport accounts for the vast majority of the world’s freight movement and related environmental damage, the state of the global truck fleet is critical. Developed countries’ share of that fleet is relatively young, regularly upgraded with the latest technology, subject to the highest emission standards, well maintained and running on high quality fuels and infrastructure. These countries’ trucking sectors partly achieve their relatively high fuel efficiency and environmental performance by off-loading older and dirtier vehicles to carriers in developing countries who lack the capital to buy new ones. This geographical cascading of vehicles diffuses technologies, admittedly at a much slower pace than in the West. In green logistics terms, however, this practice leaves a lot to be desired. The trucks acquired from Europe, North America and Japan are often poorly matched with the delivery ‘duty cycles’ in the importing countries. Maintaining them is impaired by a lack of spare parts and qualified mechanics and they are often ill-equipped for the levels of overloading and poor road pavement conditions they encounter in the developing world. Companies managing this trade in second hand vehicles and the governments that regulate it have important roles to play in the greening of freight transport worldwide.

Posted in Discussion | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Professor Alan McKinnon 2018

Kuehne Logistics University
Hamburg
Germany

contactme@alanmckinnon.co.uk

Contact me

Privacy policy

Sitemap

Reset cookies

 Web design by Wordspree

 

© Professor Alan McKinnon 2018

 

Kuehne Logistics University
Hamburg
Germany

 

contactme@alanmckinnon.co.uk

 

Contact me

Privacy policy

 

Sitemap

Reset cookies

 
Web design by Wordspree