At The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), the issue of sustainability has been increasingly in the spotlight since NOV19. This was evidenced last week when TIACA urged its members to intensify efforts to fight global warming. Quite differently in Geneva, where 190 delegates met to attend a conference organized by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA). For their daily business, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions plays at best a secondary role.
Thrilling topics but sobering outcome
“Decarbonization, transport corridors and multimodality!” stood prominently on top of the agenda at the recent FIATA conference. All exciting topics, especially the sustainability issue, but the outcome was more than meager. This was shown by a poll, initiated by Jan Hoffmann, Head of Trade Logistics, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In his survey, the UNCTAD official asked the attendees to rank the main challenges for their companies in 2023.
The outcome: 1. inflation, followed by 2. compensation measures, 3. economic evolution, 4. digitalization, 5. Compliance, and 6. regulation. In last place was decarbonization (sic!).
Mr. Hoffmann expressed his surprise at the low ranking of decarbonization considering the current global situation with calls for Net Zero and ocean freight’s IMO goals demanding 40% reduction of CO2 emissions in ocean shipping by 2030.
However, it became clear in discussion that the mass of freight forwarders gathered in Geneva has little say in global decision-making and does not yet feel affected by changing government regulations. James Corbett of the World Shipping Council urged the agents to consider re-thinking, and preparing themselves for the change, to not be punished at a later stage. Jan Hoffmann concluded: “Delaying the change is more costly than the change itself.”
Standstill is regression, says TIACA
Meanwhile in Miami, nearly 5000 km southwest of Geneva, TIACA announced the results of its third survey, undertaken on the sustainable transformation of the air cargo industry and based on its Sustainability Roadmap. Here are the key findings, among others, compared to the first survey in 2020:
- 75% of the respondents emphasize that sustainability is more important than it was in 2020, and 76% have confirmed they have a sustainability strategy in place.
- 50% of companies have upgraded their fleets to cleaner aerial and ground vehicles and even more have dedicated teams and budgets to drive sustainability.
- Airlines, Ground Handlers and Freight Forwarders confirm large investments in the use of SAF to decarbonize.
Fields of action
Following the motto, standstill is regression, TIACA calls on the industry to intensify its efforts in the fight against climate change. As a guideline, the organization recommends focusing on these action areas: “Set your own sustainability agenda and raise awareness further; address workforce challenges with a people-focused strategy; build trust in your business by joining TIACA’s BlueSky program and get ready to address customer requests and regulation.”
The outcome of the survey “clearly demonstrates that we, as an industry, are moving forward when it comes to increasing sustainable air cargo, but there is a lot more work to be done”, Steven Polmans, TIACA Chair, summarizes the findings and calls for additional efforts.
The difference to the FIATA poll could hardly be greater.
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