Month: August 2020

COVID-19’s Impact on Shipping Emissions — and What Companies Can Do About It

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It has been nearly six months since COVID-19 upended nearly everything across the globe – disrupting lives, businesses, and industries in ways that will forever change the world. Many state and federal governments enacted shelter-in-place orders earlier this year that shuttered brick-and-mortar businesses or drastically limited the number of customers allowed through their doors. In an effort to contain the spread of the virus, residents in many countries are still being encouraged to limit their activities to those that are absolutely essential. One result of these lifestyle adjustments is an unprecedented number of consumers going online for their shopping needs.

According to a recent study by Adobe, online shopping sales in June of this year were up 76% compared to the same time last year.

These trends are likely to stick around even after the pandemic is behind us, with an expected 160% growth in online shopping from consumers who rarely or never shopped online before COVID hit. While there are obvious benefits of being able to shop from the safety of your home, the almost constant stream of delivery trucks in neighborhoods around the world has increased shipping-related carbon emissions. 

Even before the pandemic, transportation emissions posed an increasing challenge in the fight against climate change. In 2016, the transportation sector surpassed the power sector as the largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, responsible for over 29%1 of total emissions in the U.S., and 24%2 globally. In response, many businesses, particularly consumer goods and e-commerce companies, have been focused on better understanding their indirect (Scope 3) emissions and taking steps to address them. 

One of the most significant demonstrations of this commitment was in early 2019 when Etsy became the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping. As a global online marketplace, 98% of the company’s total carbon footprint falls within its Scope 3 emissions, driven by sellers shipping goods to buyers. The company took action to mitigate this carbon impact by investing in four unique emission reduction projects to offset the emissions from its global supply chain — and it cost them less than a penny per package. 

With the current rise in online shopping and uncertainty about when or if consumer shopping behavior will return to a ‘pre-COVID normal’, many more companies have an opportunity to follow Etsy’s lead and take action to address the impact of their increased shipping-related emissions.

To take action on their shipping emissions, companies must first understand the scale of their footprint. While some companies calculate their shipping emissions on their own, many organizations opt to outsource this step. Advisors like 3Degrees can inform customers about the data required to perform these calculations, such as the, weight, distance, and mode of transportation of the goods being shipped. We then take these inputs and use emissions factors from WRI’s GHG Protocol to create a complete shipping emissions report with total metric tons of CO2 that result from goods shipped.

With a shipping footprint calculation completed, organizations can then work with a trusted firm to develop a portfolio of verified emission reductions (VERs) from existing projects, or support the development of new emissions reduction projects that tie directly to their business, industry, or supply chain. By matching verified emission reduction credits to their total shipping footprint, companies can make carbon neutrality shipping claims, reduce the environmental impact of their business, and play an important role in helping to decarbonize transportation.  

COVID-19 has been a stark reminder that we are all connected citizens of this planet. With the long list of negative impacts brought on by this global pandemic, let’s not let this change in consumer shopping behavior add to that list by further accelerating climate change.

Companies can and should step up and take action to mitigate that impact and ensure that the environment doesn’t continue to suffer in a post-COVID world.


For more information on how 3Degrees can help your organization calculate its shipping emissions or take steps to address them, please contact us.

1.  Bloomberg Sustainable Energy in America Factbook: https://www.bcse.org/factbook/
2. IEA Tracking Transport Report: https://www.iea.org/reports/tracking-transport-2019

 

Corporate Climate Commitments Evolution (webinar)

A growing number of organizations are establishing science-based and absolute GHG reduction targets, net zero, and carbon neutrality commitments. Yet, questions remain regarding what these terms mean in practice, available tools to meet these goals, and their overall effectiveness.

On August 20th, 2020, Stephanie Harris, 3Degrees’ Director of Carbon Markets, Peter Weisberg, Director of Product Development, and Maya Kelty, Director of Regulatory Affairs, hosted a webinar that addressed these questions. 

Watch to the webinar recording to learn more about:

  • Evolution of corporate climate commitments
  • Tools to meet these commitments – including nature-based solutions, carbon removals, and value chain intervention
  • Guidance for applying these tools

View the webinar

corporate-cliamte-commitments-evolution-webinar

Larimer County Landfill Gas Project

Larimer County Landfill Gas Project

The Larimer County Landfill is located roughly a mile south of Fort Collins, Colorado. This facility began collecting municipal solid waste in 1986. The cities within Larimer County already had an active recycling program that separates paper, glass and metals, but in September 2009, to address the landfill’s methane emissions, an active gas collection system with 41 wells was voluntarily installed. This system collects the gas and pipes it to the landfill gas processing facility, where a blower sends the gas through a condensate pump and on to an open flare.

Image Open gas flare at the Larimer County Landfill in Fort Collins, CO

Open gas flare at the Larimer County Landfill. Fort Collins, CO

Environmental Benefits

The emission reductions occur when the methane in the landfill gas is destroyed in the flare and is converted to carbon dioxide, which has a much lower global warming potential than methane. The landfill gas collection and combustion system generates annual emission reductions on the order of 20,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent.

Health Benefits

Roughly 3,000 people live within a 2-mile radius of Larimer County Landfill and benefit from improved air conditions as a result of the project. In addition to methane and carbon dioxide, landfill gas contains numerous other volatile compounds (VOCs), some of which are listed as hazardous air pollutants that pose threats to human health, such as respiratory irritation, central nervous system damage and cancer. The combustion of landfill gas destroys many of these hazardous air pollutants.

Economic Benefits

In 2010, a 1.6 megawatt electric generator was installed to use the captured gas to generate renewable power on site. The power is sold to the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, and the utility uses the landfill’s generated electricity to service its customers. Any excess collected gas is combusted in the open flare. 

The innovation of this county landfill project has ensured that the local communities enjoy a reliable power source for years to come without the negative impacts of harmful environmental toxins.

 

 

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