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By sea, land and air: Decarbonizing transportation and logistics

Sponsored: Heightened visibility of the global supply chain creates opportunity — and demand — for transformative solutions to mitigate environmental impacts.


A joint initiative between Embark Trucks and HP combines electric and autonomous truck technology to create a more sustainable distribution network. Image courtesy of Embark Trucks.

This article is sponsored by HP.

Supply chain disruptions — spurred by COVID-19 shutdowns and exacerbated by severe capacity and labor shortages — are being felt in every industry, across every sector, and in every geography throughout the world. Consumers are frustrated, businesses are scrambling, and economies are struggling as producers, manufacturers, logistics providers, governments and others work to untangle the bottlenecks choking global commerce.

Never before has the global supply chain had so much attention, with a spotlight often shining brightest on transportation and logistics. This heightened visibility creates opportunity — and demand — for transformative sustainable solutions to mitigate environmental impacts. 

In order for the world to achieve the aggressive carbon reduction targets necessary to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, we must collectively work to decarbonize the supply chain. Transportation is one of the highest-impact places to focus. 

According to Statista, transportation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions, accounting for about a quarter of total emissions worldwide. Globally, the U.S. is responsible for the highest volume of transportation-related emissions — about twice the volume of China. Transportation makes up about 29 percent of America’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s an industry ripe for innovation.

That’s why companies such as HP are innovating in partnership with transportation and logistics providers, such as A.P. Moller-Maersk, United Airlines and Embark Trucks, and committed to initiatives such as EPA’s SmartWay program and The Climate Group’s EV100, to accelerate the decarbonization of transportation. 

Scaling zero-carbon ocean freight

Ocean freight is one of the lower carbon emission transport methods, yet leading shippers, such as A.P. Moller-Maersk, are leaning in to invest in more sustainable ways to operate their vessels. HP, for example, is collaborating with Maersk on alternative fuel solutions for ocean shipments. In early 2024, Maersk will introduce the first carbon neutral methanol-operated ocean-going container vessels. Starting with eight vessels to replace older ships, Maersk estimates it will reduce about 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. 

Those savings will contribute toward the science-based and zero-carbon targets set by Maersk’s largest corporate shippers, such as Amazon, HP, Microsoft and The Procter and Gamble Company. 

Advancing a market for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

Aviation is responsible for about 12 percent of transportation emissions and about 2 percent of global emissions overall — and airlines such as United are partnering with corporates to drive down emissions and accelerate the market for sustainable aviation fuel. 

Earlier this year, United Airlines announced its Eco-Skies Alliance program, including HP and over a dozen leading global customers, to purchase 3.4 million gallons of SAF in 2021, creating a demand for more SAF production. 

Driving autonomous technology

EV technology is establishing a role in short distance freight movement, known as drayage. Road freight contributes about 30 percent of total transportation emissions with a much lower volume of wheels on the road than passenger vehicles. Statista reports that in 2020, 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was emitted by just 64 million heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks. Finding ways to drive efficiency and reduce emissions at every stage of freight movement can have significant impact. 

Embark Trucks Inc., a leading developer of self-driving software for the trucking industry, recently teamed up with HP — as part of Embark’s Partner Development Program — to pilot combined electric and autonomous truck technology. The pilot uses BYD 8TT electric trucks to haul freight to and from Embark’s highway-adjacent transfer points in Los Angeles, California. The load is then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, using autonomous trucks equipped with Embark Driver software. 


BYD 8TT electric trucks move loads between highway-adjacent transfer points before connecting with Embark-equipped autonomous trucks. Image courtesy of Embark Trucks.

The electric trucks in this pilot eliminate smog, diesel-emitting NO2, and CO2 emissions from the urban center, while the autonomous trucks boast an estimated 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency — and hence less CO2 emissions. 

Preliminary research from Embark estimates HP could remove up to 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from its distribution network over the next decade by adopting both long-haul autonomous trucks and EV drayage. 

Moving road freight smarter

Making even seemingly small adjustments in how freight moves across the logistics system, such as making more right-hand than left-hand turns, can significantly reduce transportation-related carbon impacts.

In the U.S., the EPA’s SmartWay program helps freight shippers, carriers and logistics companies improve the shipping operations to improve environmental performance.  

Freight shippers, carriers, logistics companies and other stakeholders partner with the EPA to measure, benchmark and improve logistics operations so they can reduce their environmental footprint. Since 2004, SmartWay has helped companies identify and select more cost- and environmentally efficient ways to move freight, reduced freight-related emissions, and provided a comprehensive and well-respected system for sharing information related to fuel-use and emission reductions. 

In the U.S. and Canada, HP uses SmartWay partners for 100 percent of its products shipped by truck. In 2021, HP received the SmartWay Excellence Award for 10th year for demonstrated leadership in freight supply chain energy efficiency and environmental performance for the Large Shipper category. 

Expanding electric fleets and charging


HP is piloting Tesla EV fleet vehicles in the U.S. Pictured here with HP employee Alex Rozenberg. Image courtesy of HP.

There are an estimated 1 billion passenger vehicles worldwide, accounting for nearly half of total transportation emissions. Driving adoption of electric vehicles could significantly reduce these volumes (particularly when powered with renewable energy), and businesses and governments are quite literally helping lead that charge. 

Countries are increasingly investing in national EV infrastructure and some, such as the U.K., Norway, the Netherlands and France, have committed to phasing out fossil fuel vehicles, making it both more economically viable and business critical for companies to make the transition to EV technology. 

More than 100 businesses have committed through EV100 to switch their fleets to electric and install EV charging stations for their customers and employees. These early-leader businesses are helping increase demand, influencing policies and helping to expand charging infrastructure to make EV adoption more accessible for all. 

As a founding member of EV100 in 2017, HP committed to install EV infrastructure at all feasible sites worldwide by 2040. Through 2020, HP had reached 34 percent of its 83 target sites. And this year, HP extended its EV100 commitment, pledging to convert its fleet to 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030.


Electric vehicle charging stations at the HP Boise campus. Image courtesty of HP.

Necessity fuels innovation

As we are all witnessing in real time, our global supply chain is a literal lifeline for our economy and our personal well-being. It has to be strong, efficient and resilient. 

It also has to be decarbonized. 

With freight activity projected to nearly double by 2040, our current path is not an option if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The positive news is that a sustainable transformation of our supply chain is possible, and it’s already in progress in some critical areas. 

But transformation requires collective action to scale. As business leaders, we have the ability to chart a new course that will transport all of us to a more sustainable future. The time for action is now, while the world is watching.

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