Efforts are underway to pilot test the rough drafts of two new “protocols” designed to help all manner of companies calculate and reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across a product’s life cycle – with transportation playing a key role in this process.
Some 60 corporations are involved in testing two GHG protocols developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): the Product Life Cycle Accounting and Report Standard, and the “Scope 3” or Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard.
“Market forces that will stimulate customers to buy low carbon products and services will require a price of carbon … and performance standards for products and appliances could be one of the ways we achieve that,” noted Bjorn Stigson, WBCSD’s president.
“The move toward a resource and carbon constrained world with a growing and increasingly urbanized population is inevitable,” he added. “We know that there will be a doubling of energy demand up to 2050. We also know that between now and 2050, we will need to provide for almost another 3 billion new persons, and that 70% of the world's population will be living in cities in 2050.”
Global aluminum fabrication firm Alcoa is one of the companies involved in the GHG protocol tests, which are targeted to be completed by the end of this year. The company is using its aluminum truck wheels in a series of road tests to provide real-world feedback to ensure GHG standards can be practically implemented by companies from a variety of sectors, sizes and geographic areas around the world, said Tim Myers, president of Alcoa’s wheel and transportation products division.
“This is the ‘next chapter’ if you will in the GHG emissions process,” he explained to Fleet Owner. “We’re trying to quantify all of the GHG emissions and savings of our truck wheels, from cradle to grave; from when the ore is taken from the ground, smelted, and turned into a wheel, to the emissions savings achieved when it’s in use on a truck.”
Those calculations could become critical in the years ahead if the U.S. sticks to its carbon-reduction targets. Right now, WBCSD’s Stigson noted, the U.S. aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 14% below 2005 levels by the year 2020, and approximately 83% below 2005 levels by 2050.
Myers noted that this study will help Alcoa better calculate and communicate the impacts of its forged wheels on climate change, showing where it provides sustainability benefits by reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through its usage on commercial equipment.
He added that companies participating in Alcoa’s road testing represent 17 countries from every continent and more than 20 industry sectors – and the data gleaned from this multi-month evaluation, which he expects to be completed in June, will contribute to publication of final GHG standards in late 2010.
“This is an effort to look at the GHGs produced and saved over a product’s entire life cycle – and whether we can achieve a net benefit in GHG reductions over that life span,” Myers noted. “It’s also something our trucking customers find more valuable in their businesses now – they want more ‘green’ products. There is much more environmental awareness now in the freight sector.”