Measurement & Analytics

ISO 14083: A guide for freight forwarders

"ISO 14083" on an orange background with Pledge branding.

The logistics industry is responsible for 11% of the world's total carbon emissions output. As global calls for decarbonisation intensify, the emissions produced from freight and logistics are under the spotlight. But, the complexity of decarbonising this mammoth industry has so far restricted progress. In this context, ISO 14083 has emerged as a vital tool in turning freight towards a more sustainable path. 

In this blog, we delve into how ISO 14083 can provide a structured approach to address and combat carbon emissions in the intricate web of global supply chains, and what this means for freight forwarders.

What is ISO 14083?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has introduced ISO 14083: Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions arising from transport chain operations. It replaced the European Standard EN 16258 at the end of 2023, transitioning towards a more globally recognised standard for emissions reporting in the logistics sector in an effort to streamline practices and foster international alignment.

ISO 14083 provides a comprehensive methodology for measuring the carbon footprint of freight and passenger transport activities, including road, rail, maritime, and air transport. For the purposes of this blog, we will specifically focus on the elements that relate to emissions measurement for freight transport activities. 

Deep dive: Key aspects of ISO 14083

Emissions measurement across all transport modes

ISO 14083 offers a comprehensive framework for measuring supply chain emissions that extends across all modes of transportation. This wide scope creates a level playing field for vendors, ensuring consistency throughout the supply chain and fostering trust, confidence and healthy competition in freight and logistics emissions measurement. This wide scope not only facilitates a more thorough understanding of the industry's overall environmental impact but also encourages freight forwarders to tailor emissions reductions to specific modes of transportation, offering value to shippers with a more targeted service.

Emissions from hub operations are included

A critical strength of ISO 14083 lies in its holistic approach to emissions calculation. Beyond just transport emissions, the standard considers the broader spectrum, including logistics hub operations. With logistics sites typically contributing anywhere from 11% to 30% of the total emissions of a shipment, providing this calculation method offers a more comprehensive view of an entire shipment’s carbon footprint. For forwarders, this ultimately enables them to provide shippers with more accurate emissions measurements, leading to more informed decision-making and the ability to identify areas for emissions reductions.

End-to-end and individual shipment leg coverage

ISO 14083 places a significant emphasis on end-to-end coverage, addressing emissions throughout the complete freight transport chain. This starts from when cargo leaves its last point of production or transformation (consignee) to when it reaches its first non-transport-related operation (consignor). By doing so, the ISO 14083 standard ensures that emissions reporting can be focused on both the individual shipment legs and the entire overall shipment. This approach emphasises the interconnected nature of the supply chain and allows for more effective impact management, enabling freight forwarders to demonstrate the entire emissions of their operations to shippers.

Accounting for empty running

ISO 14083 takes into account the operation of running empty trips required for subsequent transportation of freight or passengers. This inclusion is applicable at all stages along the entire transport chain. The standard defines an empty trip as a section of the route of a vehicle during which no freight is transported. This includes vehicle (re)positioning trips and empty backhauls, ensuring that emissions from these often-overlooked segments are considered in the overall emissions measurement and reporting process. By addressing empty trips, ISO 14083 further refines the accuracy and comprehensiveness of emissions calculations, enabling freight forwarders to optimise their operations and minimise environmental impact as a result.

ISO 14083 and GLEC

ISO 14083 isn’t the first framework for measuring transport chain emissions — the Smart Freight Centre’s (SFC) GLEC Framework set the scene and has been the de facto standard for measuring emissions within freight and logistics for a decade. You can read more about how the GLEC Framework is impacting freight forwarding in this blog. In essence, both the GLEC Framework and the ISO 14083 standard are designed to facilitate a consistent approach to calculating and reporting emissions on a global scale within the logistics sector. 

Initially, ISO 14083 expanded its application beyond the limits of GLEC Framework 2.0, so the SFC underwent a comprehensive update and released GLEC Framework 3.0 in September 2023. This serves as the primary guideline for industry stakeholders navigating the implementation of the new ISO standard. The harmonisation of these two frameworks will not only streamline operations within the industry but also enhance accessibility for governments, international bodies and investors looking to adopt standardised processes.

Additionally, the SFC is introducing an assurance program to replace the current emissions validation service. The program will guide independent verification bodies in assessing the conformity of logistics emission calculations to ISO 14083, employing a verification checklist developed by the SFC. This approach ensures a consistent evaluation process, specifically tailored for auditors who are trained and approved by the SFC.

While the SFC's existing accreditation program for logistics emissions reporting tool providers is expected to continue, it will likely be modified. These collaborative efforts between the SFC and ISO signal a concerted commitment to provide clarity and consistency in emissions measurement and reporting practices across the freight and logistics industry.

ISO 14083 is bringing positive change to global logistics

How does ISO 14083 benefit freight and logistics overall?

ISO 14083 has been positioned as a catalyst for comprehensive decarbonisation in freight and logistics. By offering a clear pathway for emissions tracking and reduction, the standard acts as an enabler and helps businesses prepare for impending emissions disclosure regulations.

This strategic alignment will not only contribute to helping the environment but also position the logistics sector as a proactive participant in the global sustainability movement.

How does ISO 14083 benefit freight forwarders?

For freight forwarders, ISO 14083 provides clarity throughout the industry, helping increase trust and transparency in the emissions measurement process. The adoption of emissions measurement tools certified to be in accordance with the ISO 14083 standard is emerging as a key differentiator between forwarders looking for a distinct advantage in the market. Shippers are increasingly demanding better access to sustainable vendors, so presenting this certification during tendering and auditing will be a valuable asset for forwarders looking to win contracts and establish market leadership.

Beyond increasing competitiveness, using emissions measurement tools that adhere to ISO 14083 standards enhances the reputation of freight forwarders. Building trust with customers, suppliers and shareholders is more attainable as these stakeholders recognise and value the commitment to environmentally responsible practices. ISO 14083, therefore, not only shapes operational efficiency but can also serve as a cornerstone for forwarders looking to thrive in an eco-conscious business landscape.

Pledge provides ISO 14083-aligned emissions measurements

At Pledge, we’re committed to meeting the most up-to-date emissions measurement standards. ISO don't provide certifications, but businesses can still ensure they meet the criteria set out in an ISO standard and then be certified to meet that standard by a third-party certification body. That’s why our platform is currently built to be in alignment with ISO 14083 and we’re working towards our GLEC 3.0 accreditation.

By building our product in line with ISO 14083 requirements, you can rest assured that the measurements we provide meet international standards for calculating emissions in freight and logistics.

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