Transport Benchmark report reveals inaction on fossil fuels

The World Benchmarking Alliance’s Transport Benchmark provides sobering sustainability analysis of 90 transport firms across air, rail & road

A major new logistics study published today (October 18) highlights the urgent need for the sector to collaborate to develop and scale sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

The World Benchmarking Alliance’s (WBA) Transport Benchmark provides analysis of 90 companies, including 25 airlines, nine rail companies, six road companies, 17 shipping companies, and 33 multimodal companies.

The WBA is a body whose aim is to build a movement to measure and incentivise business impact around a sustainable future.

The research was conducted in partnership with CDP, a non-profit organisation that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impact.

Transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of all sectors, with more than 90% of transport energy coming from crude oil-derived products.

90% of transport firms still committed to fossil fuels   

Despite this, the report finds just 7% of companies assessed have committed to phasing out use of fossil fuels. Across all companies, 85% have fleets that are incompatible with a low-carbon future, and the majority fail to disclose any plans for changing this.  

The report says that among the solutions transport operators need to adopt are alternative fuels, including ammonia, hydrogen, and sustainable aviation fuel. 

Yet it says that just 0.3% of total transport-related revenues are invested in R&D around into low-carbon technologies and fuels, such as electric vehicles and sustainable aviation fuels. 

The report says: “Investment in R&D is critical to ensuring that new technologies can come to market more quickly, as is working in partnership with suppliers and developers such as vehicle manufacturers or fuel producers. However, 94% of companies do not provide any meaningful data on research and development into low-carbon vehicles and fuels.” 

It adds: “A few companies are using their influence to push for infrastructure solutions, improved climate policy, or customer behaviour change.”

Transport shows scant support for low-carbon policies

The report shows that just three out of 90 show any significant support for low-carbon policy and just six are directly working with infrastructure operators to build low-carbon solutions. 

A total of 48% of the benchmarked companies, meanwhile, have a strategy to help customers to reduce emissions but none of the companies had set measurable targets for customer engagement to encourage low-carbon alternatives.   

Vicky Sins, World Benchmarking Alliance’s Decarbonisation and Energy Transformation Lead, said: “Transport accounts for 37% of global carbon emissions, so the sector has to step up. The large-scale change needed cannot be achieved without every company getting actively involved across their business – from research to customer advice to support for low-carbon policies and regulation. There is an urgent need for collaboration to identify and scale solutions.”

She adds: “Transport companies are vital to connecting people and goods globally but they cannot thrive unless the places and people around them are thriving too. 

“It is no exaggeration to say the future of our world will be significantly shaped by how these companies translate pledges into action.” 

Amir Sokolowski, CDP’s Global Director of Climate Change, said: “Companies must go further in setting not only long-term targets, but near-term targets and credible climate transition plans to demonstrate how they are going to reach these targets, currently only 51% of companies within the benchmark have net-zero targets. 

“These plans must be disclosed so they can be measured and managed. This is not happening across the sector. This means that vital risks are not being assessed or addressed, and all players could be left behind as we see a rise in regulation on mandatory disclosure”. 

In addition to decarbonisation, the research looked at the implications for workers and customers, as part of helping to ensure a low-carbon transition that leaves no one behind.  

Altogether, the 90 transport companies employ an estimated total of 9.6 million people globally, yet just 43% of these have a publicly available policy statement committing to respect the health and safety of their workers. 

Plus, only three companies disclose quantitative information on health and safety for their workers.  

Just one company has committed to green jobs -- CDP

And while 38% of companies demonstrate measures on skills, training and education of employees, only FirstGroup publicly commits to green and jobs, re- and upskilling workers displaced by the low-carbon transition. 

The top five performing companies across the Transport Benchmark are:

  • ComfortDelGro Corporation, a Singapore-based company operating vehicles in seven countries, including bus, taxi, rail and car rental. 
  • La Poste Groupe. The French postal service company has significantly reduced its overall emissions, in part due to the electrification of the company’s fleet, which reached 38% in 2021.
  • FirstGroup. A UK public transport company that carried almost 1.5m passengers per day in 2021 on bus and rail. It is the only company that publicly commits to both to green and decent jobs, and training workers who risk being displaced by the low-carbon transition.   
  • NS Groep. The principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. NS Groep’s entire fleet of trains is electrified and it aims to increase the proportion of renewable energy used to power its rail infrastructure. It also engages suppliers and customers to encourage emission reductions.  
  • Maersk. One of the world’s largest container shipping companies, based in Denmark. It is one of the few companies with a policy to engage trade associations on climate issues, and reviews its membership status annually to ensure its trade associations are in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

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