The logistics arm of Deutsche Bahn (DB) is pursuing a long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by covering the entire range of transports from door to door. Cargo airlines are a central pillar of this holistic approach, Andrea Dorothea Schoen confirms, Senior Manager Carbon Controlling & Consulting at DB Schenker on the sidelines at Lufthansa Cargo’s Climate event.
Q: Andrea, DB Schenker is offering cargo carriers an enticing deal: your company guarantees certain volumes over a period of time on selected routes. In return, a partnering
airline commits itself to constantly reduce CO2 emissions. Kindly elaborate on the specifics of this offer.
A: It is important to understand such agreements as a mutual commitment, not a guarantee and not a legally binding issue – because it has grown out of long-standing partnerships based on trust and the will to jointly drive sustainable transport development.
This means that each agreement is individually concluded – with specific targets.
The emission reduction commitment varies between 6 and 20+% for the time period 2014 to 2020 depending on the level a company starts at.
Q: You mention data control and visibility, demonstrating the proper function of the terms. Airlines might be interested to know what exactly these terms are and what DB Schenker’s own contribution is to reducing CO2 emissions in aviation.
A: In air freight we currently have 2 standards in place for emission calculation and allocation to third parties: the EN 16258 and the IATA RP 1678. We (DBSL) are working towards a unified globally accepted standard but in the meantime we accept, transitionally, both standards.
Most airlines though do not apply any of them which makes it difficult for us to compare air freight emission data. Therefore, we are also engaged in tool building based on the industry’s data research: We are a founding member of the EcoTransIT World Initiative (www.ecotransit.org) which allows us to calculate flight numbers based emissions with the best available data – which we apply in the absence of data provided by air carriers.
Q: Has DB Schenker already signed contracts with carriers based on your transport model and if so – what are the results up to now?
A: The process of signing is not finalized yet. We expect our “top 10” carriers, which account for the majority of our business, to have signed on by the end of the year. 2016 will be the first review when the 2015 performance will be checked against the 2014 baseline.
This means that we report the respective data to each other, give explanations in case of any deviations and – if such deviations are expected to stay – adjust the agreement, respectively. It may sound “easy” but one has to realize that there is a lot of internal and mutual communication as well as justification involved.
Q: An increasing number of shippers are putting pressure on their partners in transportation to exercise green supply solutions. Is this also DB Schenker’s impressions? And if so, are they willing to pay higher prices for green air freight solutions?
A: Yes, the pressure is there and increasing on the shipper side. However, we as DB SL do not pass this pressure on like a hot potato to our carriers instead engage into mutual partnerships on both ends. Our “eco triangle” stands for this kind of strategy: It represents our role in the supply chain with the upper point representing our operational responsibility and the left and right points our external partners, i.e., shippers (our customers) and carriers (our service providers) with the goal of supporting both sides with integrated carbon/emission reduction strategies in which the agreements mentioned being one part.
If there are solutions offered beyond the “ordinary” portfolio, for example the latest equipment on certain routes, it is well understood that there is a respective surcharge – which, however, does not mean that these options are chosen. In a difficult economic environment every cent counts and a medium or long term purchase strategy is still not easy to implement for most shippers.
Q: At Lufthansa Cargo’s Climate Care event you claimed that the logistics industry must become more innovative also to retain talented creatives. What must be done? Any suggestions?
A: Well, quite a lot as the “industry 4.0 era” includes a lot of areas related to logistics:
- ITC technology / “Internet of things” – remote control of logistics services, transport flows, driver behavior, cargo movements etc.
- New engines / new fuels: We have heard a lot of organic fuels, these (the sustainable generation 2+3 kind) shall be provided as bridge technology solely for the air industry because they have the biggest impact there. All other vehicles shall run on sustainable electricity, be it by PTG (power-to-gas), new battery technology or – like cable cars – connected to an electric grid (as Siemens is piloting in its “E Highway” technology).
- Smart city projects: Mega cities (especially in developing countries) need to receive an integrated transport infrastructure which enables the smooth flow of all kinds of traffic – cars,
bikes, trucks, motorbikes etc., that means passenger and cargo. Ideally, the logistics industry works hand in hand with city planners, policy makers and the construction industry on the
Interview: Heiner Siegmund