Global Warming


The issue of climate change and global warming has dominated the headlines in the past few decades. It is now widely accepted that the emission of green house gases into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide in particular by a range of human activities like deforestation and burning of fossil fuels has resulted in Global Warming. Global warming in simple terms is the increase in average global temperature [1]. The recognition of the threat that climate change poses to our ecosystem has been the driving force behind governments and corporate's adopting green policies to reduce the carbon emissions.

According to the Kyoto protocol there are six green house gases that contribute to global warming. They are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluoro carbons, perfluoro carbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Among these gases the first three are of concern because their increase is a direct result of human activities. Further among these three green house gases the increase in carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming. (

Freight transport is one major factor that contributes to increase in carbon dioxide emissions and this paper will discuss the trends regarding CO2 emissions in general with emphasis on freight transport followed by the improved technology and processes that can help reduce the emissions. Finally the state of the art technologies and processes for reducing CO2 emissions in the freight transport sector in India will be discussed.

1 Facts, Figures and trends regarding CO2 emissions:

According to IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) the emission of green house gases if unchecked may result in increase of temperature between 1.4C and 5.8C by year 2100. Years 1995 to 2006 were among the warmest in history and this has resulted in extreme weather conditions globally [3].

The first look at the chart clearly indicates the rapid increase in emissions over the past six decades. This clearly coincides with the growth in economy and industrialization during this period. At the start of the 20th century Western Europe and North America were major contributors of CO2 emissions. However at the end of the century their combined share had come down to 41% from close to 90% at the start. Although there was a reduction in share by the two major contributors, emissions by countries in the Middle East and Asia contributed close to 20%. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) the share of CO2 emissions from industrialized countries (part of UNFCCC) had come down to 39% in 2007 from 61% in 1971. The biggest increase has been from Middle East and Asia. Emissions in these regions have grown by 80% as a result of economic growth and increased energy consumption. Despite the increase in emission from developing countries like India, China etc over the past few years the per capita CO2 emissions by these countries is far less than that of developed countries. In Europe average emission per person was around 8.7 tonnes in 2003 and 19.7 tonnes in USA. This is far greater than the 2.9 tonnes by China and 1 ton by India. The variation in per capita emission is primarily because of the variations in population and emissions from each of the countries. USA with less than 5% of world population generates 20% of CO2 and hence the high per capita emission, whereas India which has 17% of world population generates just 5% of the world CO2. There is one particular statistics which stands out and that is the top ten emitting countries is responsible for more than two thirds of the emissions in 2007. USA and China alone contributes to 41% of world CO2 emissions in 2007.

IEA figures also prove a strong relationship between growth in GDP and the CO2 emissions. As of year 2007 the top five emitters accounted for 55% of world CO2 emissions. They also contributed to 50% of the world GDP and comprised 46% of the population [2].

The figure shows that the percentage of CO2 as compared to the other green house gases is very high. According to IPCC CO2 represents nearly 77% of the total green house gases emitted as of 2004 [2]. This clearly indicates the need to curb CO2 emissions at the earliest.

IEA also released a sector wise CO2 emissions chart which is shown above. According to the chart two major sectors that contribute to carbon emissions are the energy sector (electricity and heat generation) and the transport sector. As of 2007 the transport sector represents 23% of the total CO2 emissions and the energy sector 41%. Generation of heat and electricity is primarily done by burning fossil fuels such as coal which has high carbon content and is a widely used resource. There are steps being taken to ensure cleaner forms of energy generation like nuclear and hydro electric power to reduce the emissions.

The growth of transport sector includes both the passenger transport and freight transport. According to the European Environment Agency the demand for energy from passenger and freight transport increased by 37% from 1990 to 2004. Also the growth of international trade and globalization has increased the throughput of container ports across the world by 13.4%.


Freight transport can be classified into four main categories road, rail, air and water ways. According to IPCC freight transport consumes 35% of the total energy consumed by the transport sector. Also with the advent of globalization, off shoring, outsourcing and new management techniques like JIT there is enormous pressure to shift to faster modes of transport and hence there is substantial growth in air and road freight movements which consumes a lot more energy.

A study on freight transport in the EU indicates an increase of 122% since the year 1970. The study also reveals that the road freight and ocean shipping has seen the highest average annual growth of 3.9% and 2.6% respectively whereas the railways has seen a decrease and inland waterways has not seen much of a growth. Increase in road freight consequently increases energy consumption and hence the emissions. Hence there are several initiatives by policy makers to encourage a modal shift from road freight to other cleaner forms of transport like the railways and inland waterways. This is essential because CO2 emissions from road freight is expected to increase by 33% between 1990 and 2010 [4].

Modal shift in transport could also play an active role in reducing emissions. A study reveals that between years 1980 to 2006 the internal freight movements in China were dominated by rail transport although there was an increase in road freights [5]. However in Europe almost 72% of internal freight movements use the road thereby increasing emissions [4]. Although the increase in freight transport is a cause of concern in the developing world the drastic increase in passenger transport is of more concern because of the rapid growth in economy over the past decade.

2 Reduction of CO2 emission in Freight Transport:

Use of Technology:

According to the U.S. EPA (environmental Protection Agency) of the emissions from transportation sector 27% is caused by freight movements, of which a major percentage is contributed by trucking and that is 20%. This is not the case just in one country the pattern is similar in many countries. In the UK according to a study conducted by Ricardo Plc in 2007 for the Department of Transport emissions from LDV (Light Duty Vehicles) and HDV (Heavy Duty Vehicles) has seen an increase of 40% and 10% respectively from the levels of 1990. Since the major contributor of emission is the road freight this paper will lay more emphasis on the technologies that can improve emissions in this sector.


Improving the aerodynamics of trailers has been considered a feasible solution to improve the fuel efficiency of HDV which is used typically for long hauls. These trailers have a tear drop shape that is the design is such that the trailer rises from 4m height to 4.5m and back to the standard 4m. Also additional components like side skirts can be added to reduce the drag and improve fuel efficiency [7]. Retail giants like Marks and Spencer and Logistics giant DHL have adopted these tear drop trailers into their existing fleet. According to Don-Bur the manufacturers of commercial trailers this design helps reduce CO2 emissions by 20% and improve fuel efficiency by 10%. It also helps carry 16% more load [6].

Improvements in Tyres:

Low Rolling Resistance Tyres

Michelin in 2008 released Green energy saving tyres with low rolling resistance. A lot of energy is wasted in the form of heat as the tyre rolls. According to Michelin this phenomenon uses up 20% of the total fuel and reducing the rolling resistance would greatly enhance the fuel efficiency thereby reducing emissions [8].

Single Wide Tyres

The use of single wide base tyres instead of the conventional dual tyre assembly would not only help reduce the rolling resistance but also reduce the weight thereby increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. According to US EPA this could reduce GHG emissions by over four metric tons a year and reduce fuel consumption by 2% or even higher [9].

Automatic adjustment of Tyre pressure

The use of automatic tyre pressure control systems that uses sensors to indicate the tyre pressure and consequently maintain optimum pressure is invaluable not just in terms of safety but also in terms of reduction of tyre wear and the fuel consumption.

Predictive cruise control:

Daimler Trucks North America unveiled an innovative technology in 2009. The predictive cruise control is unlike the normal cruise control which has a preset speed for all terrains. This technology has a system in place that predicts the terrain a mile in advance and adjusts the optimum speed which gives higher fuel efficiency. The technology uses a combination of digital maps and satellite images for this purpose [10].

Fuel Cell Systems:

The use of Fuel Cells to power vehicles has been considered a technology to watch out for in the future given its high potential to reduce emissions. Already quite a few cities in the world have started operating buses which are powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The limitation however is the cost and doubts over the safety of the system [7].

Electric/Hybrid Vehicles:

The use of hybrid vehicles that use more than one source of energy ideally it is a normal combustion engine in combination with electric motors. There are also vehicles which use just the electric motors to power the vehicle and are also known as plug in hybrids. However the use of hybrid vehicles has gained in popularity for use in urban environments [7]. Bombardier in UK is working on green trains which are 20% lighter and fuel efficient. Also the Turbo star train currently being developed uses 90% recyclable materials. Virgin Voyager trains are also trying trial runs using biodiesel that could reduce emissions by 14%. Ocean Liners are also working on new technologies to enhance the efficiency and reduce emissions of their ships. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has designed a zero emission vessel called the E/S Orschelle that replaces oil by fuel cells and renewable energy as a source of power [24].

Alternate Fuels:

The blending of biofuels like ethanol with gasoline has been used by countries like Brazil to reduce the emissions [3]. There are other fuels like FAME a biodiesel that is extracted from vegetable oils or animal fats which can be mixed with regular diesel to power engines. Another biodiesel is BTL which is obtained by converting biomass to liquid. HVO is another form of biodiesel obtained by mixing vegetable oil with hydrogen [7]. Although there is research on quite a few alternate fuels like biogas made from organic materials and hydrogen none has been commercially successful because of technological glitches and high investments involved. All the above fuels have the potential to reduce emissions but their success depends on the commercial viability and policy changes.

Tracking Technologies:

The use of technologies like RFID and Telematics can be used to optimize routing, monitor load, track assets etc. This will greatly enhance the optimization of journey times, utilization of trucks and enhance reverse logistics as well [24].

Improvements to Processes:

It is a popular belief that the optimization of Logistics yields just fiscal benefits. But companies have realized that the process optimization also results in reduced emissions in addition to the cost benefits. Toyota Industries had taken a number of steps to improve the efficiency of their Logistics operation in order to reduce emissions and this was done as early as 2001. They reduced their truck shipments by replacing the policy of having separate trucks for each regional dealer by redesigning their truck routes to use the same truck to deliver several dealers. In 2003 they started using trains for their long distance shipments of forklifts. Modal shift is being considered by most companies to reduce emissions [20]. Most companies have started optimizing their transport networks to improve efficiency and hence reduce emissions. Fujitsu in 2007 were able to achieve a 20% reduction of CO2 emissions by rationalizing their distribution centers [23]. Packaging is another area where there is potential to reduce emissions. Dell computers have been actively pursuing the idea of replacing non wood pallets by foam or plastic to reduce weight and secondly these are recyclable as well. Dell is also working to reduce the consumption of paper within its logistics operations by sing EDI to process shipping documents. Dell has devised a Packaging Take Back program where in the packing is retrieved after delivery to the customer. Dell is also working on optimizing the reverse logistics process where in several materials being returned were directed to a centralized location in America and recycled. Dell has also collaborated with the best in class logistics providers like DHL, UPS and CEVA to optimize their logistics operation [22]. Partnering with 3PL providers greatly help to optimize the logistics operations of a company. Collaboration in Logistics is another way by which emissions can be reduced. Nestle and Mars in the UK are collaborating to optimize their deliveries to Tesco so as to reduce emissions. They have decided to share trucks that deliver Christmas confectionaries to Tesco. This has resulted in the reduction of 7500 truck miles eliminating a lot of unutilized truck capacity and duplicate journeys in a short span of time [21]. These days the availability of technology and softwares are of great help. There are softwares that help optimize vehicle allocation, route planning etc that not only reduce costs but also help minimize emissions. According to the world economic forum report there is a huge opportunity to reduce emissions by despeeding the supply chain or reducing lead times so as to enable modal shift, enhance capacity utilization, reduce vehicle speed specially the ocean liners where there is greater benefit. Another factor identified was switching over sourcing locations to reduce emissions. Also near shoring was identified as an opportunity to reduce emissions. But with the growth of globalization companies are more inclined to cut costs by outsourcing or off shoring their operations to low cost destinations rather than concentrate on reducing emissions by near shoring [25].

Human Behaviour:

3 State of the art for reducing CO2 emissions in Indian Freight Transport Sector:

India is the second fastest growing economy in the world next only to China. The economic growth has consequently increased the growth of freight movements and as a result there has been a proportional increase in CO2 emissions from this sector. In India the majority of freight movements is by road which is evident from the fact that the railways' share of freight traffic has come down from over 80% during the 1950's to around 35% currently. This increase in road freight has prompted the government to adopt stringent emission norms which didn't exist earlier.

Emission Standards in India:

It was in the year 2005 that India harmonized its emission norms to that of Europe in an effort to reduce emissions. At present heavy and light duty vehicles follow the Bharath Stage lll (BS lll) norm which is equivalent to Euro lll. By April 2010 this would be upgraded to BS lV equivalent to the Euro lV emission standards [11]. Although these norms are not the best in class it is among the most stringent among the developing countries. The vehicles in the freight sector primarily use diesel as the fuel which is a cleaner form of fuel compared to gasoline.

Use of Alternate Fuels:

Other forms of fuel like Compressed Natural Gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Ethanol blends are being used by Light duty vehicles to reduce the emissions but diesel is the fuel that is used on a large scale [11]. Over the past three years India has spent nearly 410 million INR on research and development of alternate fuels like biodiesel and ethanol [12]. This would not just help reduce emissions in general but also help overcome the country's over dependence on oil imports. To develop biodiesel on a large scale the government has set up the National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Development (NOVOD) board. Through this agency the government promotes biofuels crops. Three million hectares of Jatropha crop plantation has been planned and would produce about 3 million tones of biodiesel annually. Already the Indian railway has started operating two trains on a trial basis that runs on biodiesel and it has proved to be a success [13].

Golden Quadrilateral Project:

India boasts of second largest road network in the world next only to U.S with about 3 million kilometers. Of this the national highway network which is just about 2% of the total network accounts for 40% of the freight transport. The National highway network was primarily two lane with very poor surface quality leading to congestion and high fuel consumption. To overcome these infrastructure constraints the Golden quadrilateral project covering 5846 km was planned by the National Highways Authority of India connecting four major Indian cities. In addition to this a further 7300 km of north south and east west corridor was also planned. These networks are six lane and the projects are nearing completion [14]. This is a huge improvement from the state of the roads five years ago. The construction of better quality roads has not only resulted in decongestion of traffic but also resulted in enhanced safety and transit times. The environmental benefits were also high because of better utilization of energy. Inspite of these improvements India still lags behind developed nations in terms of infrastructure and requires billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

Dedicated Freight Corridor Project:

The government in order to control the growth of road freight movements has proposed the construction of a dedicated freight corridor as part of the existing railway network. Currently the network is shared by both passenger and freight movements and passenger trains are given preference over freight trains. This has resulted in increased transit times and in turn has caused a modal shift of freight from rail to road and hence increasing emissions. In order to reverse the trend the government set up DFC Corporation of India (DFCCI) to construct 10122 km of dedicated freight corridor tracks connecting four major metros [16].

This will not only result in economic benefits but also help reduce emissions because for the same amount of fuel a higher load can be carried and this causes decoupling of GHG emissions for every unit that is transported. Trains on the DFC can carry loads of up to 12000 tons 1200 times more than that of a truck carrying 10 tons in India [15].

Development of Inland Waterways:

Inland waterways are the most energy efficient and environment friendly mode of transport and are ideal for transport of bulk cargo. India has navigable inland waterways of 14500 km but the share of this sector in freight movement is just 0.24%. The government has recognized the urgent need to develop infrastructure along the waterways to encourage a modal shift from road and rail. The government has fast tracked the development of three national waterways NW1, NW2 and NW3. Given the infrastructure investments required and the comparatively slower pace of development in this sector it is expected that it would take another 20 years to achieve a modal shift of 2% in this sector [17].

Technology in Commercial Vehicles:

In India the commercial vehicle manufacturers have started joint ventures with global leaders in this space to enable technology transfer. Ashok Leyland a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer in India has developed Hythane engines which uses a blend of 20% hydrogen and natural gas. This helps improve fuel efficiency and control emissions. This concept is being used by around 5500 vehicles in and around the national capital. They have also started a joint venture with Nissan to produce diesel trucks that meet Euro lV standards. Also the entry of global giants like Volvo and Daimler into the Indian Market has helped to increase the number of energy efficient commercial vehicles on Indian roads and also has forced Indian manufacturers to enhance their technology to produce energy efficient vehicles. Tata Motors has installed the stop start technology in its light commercial vehicle Tata ACE to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. This technology will help enhance fuel efficiency by 6 to 10% and was developed in house by Tata Motors


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