New Delhi: When there is an increasing demand for global brands and companies to aggressively make zero or net zero emission commitments at an accelerated pace to meet the global 1.5 degrees Celsius target, majority of the companies surveyed in the last mile delivery sector have weak commitments in India, a latest study has found out.
Six major global logistics, e-commerce, and retail companies — Amazon, Walmart, Flipkart, UPS, DHL, and Fedex — have all failed to set ambitious targets to decarbonise in line with the 1.5-degrees goal, as per the study, commissioned by Stand Earth, a grassroot environmental organisation, and ASAR Social Impact Advisors, a body working for advocating sustainable growth.
“These companies also do not provide sufficient data on the measures they are currently taking or progress they have made, despite acknowledging the climate crisis and the impact of last mile deliveries. Only one, Walmart, plans to completely eliminate all emissions from its operations by 2040,” according to the study ‘Parcel Delivery on a Warming Planet’ by Dutch research agency, The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations- Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO) and funded by the Urban Movement Innovation (UMI) Fund.
The report considers the role that cities may play in accelerating the EV transition and the advantages that cities can gain from shorter timelines. It focuses on major global metropolises such as Los Angeles, London, and Delhi.
These findings are crucial, especially in light of last month’s COP26 where India has committed to achieve an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2070. The significant growth of large e-commerce companies in India during the Covid-19 pandemic is accompanied by an exponential increase in the number of last-mile delivery vehicles across the country, particularly in tier-1 and tier-2 cities. These vehicles potentially have a significant environmental, health, and social impact through greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and congestion, the study mentioned.
“Last mile delivery fleets represent a key opportunity for rapid electrification. Considering the poor state of air quality in Indian cities, Indian last mile delivery companies must take the lead in cleaning up emissions from their operations, starting now,” said Lead, Air Quality & Climate Resilience Consultant, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) India Programme, Polash Mukerjee.
“Most companies are currently only starting the rollout of their fleet electrification and will need to accelerate and upscale their efforts in order to achieve their own climate goals and realise sustainable last-mile delivery,” researcher at SOMO, Ilona Hartlief said.
“Only Flipkart (by 2030) and Fedex (by 2040) have established worldwide targets for converting their last-mile delivery fleets to electric vehicles, while DHL has set a 60 per cent electrification target for its fleet. Amazon has announced a partly net-zero fleets’ emissions objective, but UPS has no specific fleet-related emissions target,” finds the report.
The report points out that companies such as Flipkart and Amazon have announced that they would have 2,000 and 1,800 electric vehicles in their fleets by 2021, respectively, but do not specify how this relates to the overall size of their fleets. Walmart has only reported on pilot programmes and hasn’t provided any data on the current use of electric vehicles on a broader scale.
Other than Delhi, e-commerce hotspots for big businesses such as Amazon and Flipkart include cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai, all fighting the menace of air pollution.
“City and state administrations should continue to implement schemes and policies, working with a variety of stakeholders such as consumer groups, civil society organisations, and delivery companies, to ensure an accelerated zero-emission electric vehicle transition for last-mile delivery fleets,” said Asar’s Siddharth Sreenivas.
Managing Trustee, Environics Trust, Sreedhar Ramamurthi, added: “The parcel delivery companies generate a huge climate footprint right from their packaging itself, which looks difficult to reduce. Optimisation of delivery and shifting to renewables-based fleets are essential in to ensure that the contribution to urban pollution and greenhouse gases per parcel mile is minimal.”
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