- The transportation sector lags other economic sectors in setting science-based targets for carbon emissions reduction according to new data from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) released Wednesday at the COP 25 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Spain. Transportation companies fall short of the "critical mass" (defined as 20% of firms in a given industry) that could bring about widespread adoption of such efforts, according to SBTi.
- Within major freight modes, maritime transport is the closest to reaching critical mass at just above 10% adoption. Rail and logistics are below 10% adoption. Heavy-duty road transport has made no progress.
- SBTi's report calls out Toyota and A.P. Moeller-Maersk, which have committed to the initiative but not yet set targets, and Daimler and Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line, which have set targets, as high-impact companies in the transportation sector committed to the initiative.
At COP 25, SBTi is celebrating the 76 companies that have committed to intensifying their decarbonization efforts in line with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a standard lowered from 2 degrees in July.
Since then, the number of companies signing onto the stricter emissions reductions has nearly tripled. However, the only transportation firms committed to the 1.5-degree target are the Netherlands' PostNL, France's La Poste and New Zealand Post.
"These companies are at the vanguard in the fight against climate change. They are proof that acting on climate science goes hand-in-hand with a successful business and economy," Alexander Farsan, Global Lead for science-based targets at WWF, an SBTi partner, said in a statement.
SBTi's assessment of critical mass is based on the Diffusion of Innovation Theory which finds that mass adoption of an innovation is achieved once 10-25% of a system adopts it — leading the initiative to use 20% as its standard measure for critical mass.
Sectors that have reached a critical mass of committed companies include apparel, biotechnology, food and beverage, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.
The SBTi has created tools specifically aimed at the transportation sector to facilitate assessing current carbon emissions and creating and implementing science-based targets.
Failure to reach critical mass among transportation companies doesn't mean all supply chain players are falling behind.
However, transportation and specifically freight businesses have an outsized role to play in the future of decarbonization since they contribute to most businesses' Scope 3 emissions, which include direct and indirect freight procurement. Scope 3, which takes into account a company's entire value chain, are increasingly addressed in science-based targets, according to the report, with 92% of companies with SBTi approved targets are addressing Scope 3.