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Page 93
Suggested Citation:"Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Carbon Footprint of Supply Chains: A Scoping Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22524.
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Page 93
Page 94
Suggested Citation:"Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Carbon Footprint of Supply Chains: A Scoping Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22524.
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Page 94

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6 CONCLUSIONS A review of current tools for measuring the carbon footprint of freight transportation has shown a lack of consistency in scope and methods. The term “carbon footprint” itself is subject to ambiguity, and the focus of many current programs on measuring emissions within an organizational boundary has limited the effectiveness of applying tools to supply chain activities that may span organizational boundaries. Based on the focus of current tools, the need for future consideration of alternative fuel vehicles, and the emerging standards in Europe, a definition that captures all six of the Kyoto greenhouse gases, employs a well-to-wheel focus on emissions, and is focused on the energy consumed in vehicles is recommended. Through performance frameworks drawn from accounting, supply chain performance measurement, and Life Cycle Assessment a set of criteria for evaluating current tools have been proposed. These criteria recognize the needs of tools to improve decision-making internally while providing a means for external reporting and benchmarking. The criteria of depth, breadth, and precision are closely related to the internal decision-making process, as the output of a tool is relevant only if it captures the necessary scope and precision required to make a particular decision. The criteria of comparability and verifiability are drawn from principles of external reporting. Comparability is necessary if the results of the tool are to be used to compare across organizations or time periods, while verifiability helps assure that the results of the tool are a faithful representation of the claims. This latter characteristic is necessary given the difficult of directly verifying claims regarding carbon emissions. A workshop was conducted at MIT that brought together a number of stakeholders to evaluate and verify the proposed criteria. Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process the participants in the workshop rated the importance of the different criteria. The results of this exercise were used to provide relative weights for the criteria to be used in an evaluation of current programs. A number of current programs were then rated on a high-medium-low scale for each of the five criteria, and the weightings of the criteria were used to generate a quantitative evaluation of the tools. The results of this process produced high scores for two different types of tools: tools focused on a single mode that provided consistent boundaries to capture the performance of specific carriers and tools that applied a consistent process across all modes, at the cost of a level of precision. Based on the results of this process a future tool should have the capability to provide a consistent boundary and process across all four main modes of transport, while having the ability to capture carrier-specific performance that can be used by shippers in their decision-making process. A work plan and timeline were developed for two possible versions of a future tool. The basic tool provides a consistent set of emissions factors that capture the scope of the supply chain recommended in this work. This tool could be quickly developed, 85

with the main focus of the work developing a consistent set of emissions factors. The more advanced tool would add more advanced capabilities and a better user interface, with the primary functional improvement of capturing user data to created updated carrier or route-specific emissions factors for use by other organizations. A series of example scenarios were provided to help clarify issues in tool development by illustrating issues related to determining emissions factors and performing calculations. 86

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TRB’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Web-Only Document 5: Carbon Footprint of Supply Chains: A Scoping Study defines a standardized, conceptual approach to assessing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the transportation component of supply chains, critiques current methods and data used to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and outlines a work plan to develop a decision tool to help estimate the carbon footprint of the transportation component of supply chains.

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