"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
- Henry David Thoreau
I have the privilege of speaking again at this year's upcoming 2011 Net Impact Conference. In preparation for this, Net Impact, an international nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire and educate in creating a more sustainable world, interviewed me on some of the actions that FedEx is taking, why we're doing so, and what the attendees should take away from it. The original article follows here:
It's easy to think of ways to reduce your environmental footprint, especially when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B: take the bus or the train, carpool when you need to drive, or bike to work if it's possible. But what are industries like transportation logistics or shipping and distribution to do?
For insight into one company's efforts to address energy and sustainability issues, we spoke with Mitch Jackson, FedEx Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability and champion for their "Start the Shift" campaign. A speaker at this year's Net Impact Conference, Mitch also gives us a sneak peek into what he will talk about and what he hopes attendees will gain from his session.
Q: What is the goal behind the FedEx "Start the Shift" Campaign?
A: The goal is to open minds regarding what is possible. Transportation, as a whole, is over-reliant upon oil. Seventy percent of oil consumed in the U.S. is used for transportation. Cars and trucks are more than 90 percent reliant on oil-based fuel for their energy. This is a burden on our environment, our economy, our citizens, and our government.
Albert Einstein once said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." There are solutions to oil reliance, and electrification of transportation is one. It's not a silver bullet that solves the entire conundrum -- nothing really fills that role. It is, however, another solution we can use to help diversify our energy needs, lessen our environmental impact, and compete in the global economy through innovation.
Q: What has FedEx already done as a part of this launch?
A: We joined with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) years ago to call for environmentally-friendly, fuel-efficient commercial vehicles. Our work with EDF and Eaton Corporation resulted in making hybrid electric commercial trucks a reality. We were also the first in the U.S. transportation logistics industry to set a goal to improve the mileage of our FedEx Express vehicles, back in 2008. To date, we've achieved a 15.1 percent improvement in fuel economy since 2005, our baseline year.
On the policy side, we were the first company in the U.S. transportation-logistics industry to push for commercial-vehicle fuel-economy / greenhouse gas legislation, which was ultimately enacted in the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. We also helped create a set of principles to inform and support this first-ever national greenhouse gas / fuel efficiency program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that has just come into effect.