Measurement & Analytics

Understanding the GLEC Framework: A guide for freight forwarders

The GLEC Framework written out with a pattern on the right hand side

Freight forwarders are vital to ensuring the efficient movement of goods around the world. With rising concerns over the impact of climate change, transport and logistics (T&L) faces increased pressure from governments and consumers to tackle its carbon footprint, but implementing this critical shift has the potential to cause disruption to the industry’s already fragile ecosystem.

As with implementing any new initiative, the first step to change is to take stock of what’s already there — the logistics sector needs to know how much emissions it produces to determine where in the supply chain reductions can be made. Until now, complexity and a lack of trust have hindered T&L's adoption of scope 3 emissions measurement.

Enter the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework — a methodology that provides a consistent, standardised and transparent foundation for scope 3 emissions calculations in global logistics. In this blog, we explore the GLEC Framework to help you understand what it is, its significance and why measuring emissions in line with its methodology is crucial for the long-term stability of the industry but also provides a strategic advantage for your freight forwarding business.

The GLEC Framework: Shedding light on emissions in the supply chain

What is the GLEC Framework?

Published in 2016 by the Smart Freight Centre (SFC), the GLEC Framework is a set of industry-leading guidelines that outline and standardise the methodology for calculating and reporting logistics greenhouse gases across all modes of transport. At first publishing, it drew input from several key emissions measurement methodologies, including the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG), the UN Global Green Freight Action Plan and CDP Reporting.

As the only globally recognised standard for emissions calculations in the logistics industry, it also serves as the primary industry guideline to support the implementation of the ISO:14083 standard for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions arising from transport chain operations.

How does the GLEC Framework work?

At its most basic level, the GLEC Framework is a methodology that enables forwarders to use shipment weight, distance travelled and an emissions intensity factor to calculate an accurate estimate of the emissions produced for a given shipment.

The GLEC Framework’s methodology also enables users to gain further insight and accuracy depending on the quality and granularity of data they’re able to provide. Users can input specific shipment data to increase the accuracy of their shipment emissions, including IMO numbers, carrier codes and flight numbers.

The methodology is specifically designed to use standard assumptions taken from average industry operating practices to fill any data gaps. This means forwarders with very little shipment data can still access accredited emissions calculations.

However, it’s important to note that standard assumptions are typically conservative, so relying on them may lead to results that over- or underestimate emissions compared with actual conditions. For forwarders that want precise, highly accurate emissions calculations, it’s best to input as much data as is available.

The benefits of measuring carbon emissions with the GLEC Framework

The core purpose of the GLEC Framework goes beyond mere reporting — it's a driving force towards sustainability in T&L. For freight forwarders, GLEC-accredited scope 3 emissions measurement helps overcome many of the problems the industry has faced in the past, including:

  • Levelling the playing field: The GLEC Framework provides a universal methodology for emissions calculations. Freight forwarders of all sizes and across various sectors can now measure and report emissions consistently, ensuring fairness and transparency in the industry.

  • Enhanced credibility: With the GLEC Framework's widespread recognition as the industry standard, freight forwarders’ customers, their investors and regulators can trust that the reported data adheres to a rigorous and standardised methodology.

  • Comparability and benchmarking: Freight forwarders can compare their emissions performance with industry peers and benchmark against best practices. This insight grants their customers the ability to make decisions backed by data, empowering them to set realistic reduction targets.

  • Supply chain collaboration: As more freight forwarders embrace the GLEC Framework, a more harmonised approach to emissions calculations will emerge throughout the supply chain. This will enhance collective efforts to reduce emissions across the entire logistics ecosystem.

  • Future-proofing compliance: As sustainability regulations and reporting requirements develop, so too will the GLEC Framework. As a result, freight forwarders with GLEC-accredited scope 3 emissions reporting will be better positioned to stay ahead of evolving compliance measures.

What’s next for the GLEC Framework?

As the logistics landscape continues to evolve, the GLEC Framework will need to adapt and expand to meet new challenges and opportunities that drive profitability in T&L while promoting sustainability. Here’s how the SFC might ensure the GLEC Framework adapts to have even more of an impact in the future:

  • Encourage wider adoption: While the GLEC Framework has gained recognition, promoting wider adoption among freight forwarders globally remains essential. Continued collaborative efforts, outreach and awareness campaigns can help bring more players into the fold, amplifying the impact on emissions reduction.

  • Improve data accuracy: As technology and data collection methods evolve, the GLEC Framework will need to be adapted to further enhance the accuracy of scope 3 emissions calculations. Embracing emerging technologies and incorporating real-time data inputs could lead to even more precise and actionable insights.

  • Drive innovation: The GLEC Framework can act as a catalyst for innovation in sustainable logistics. By encouraging research and development, the framework can inspire new solutions and technologies that contribute to greener supply chains.

  • Address new challenges: The logistics industry is dynamic, and new challenges may emerge from its journey to sustainability. The GLEC Framework should remain agile and responsive to address these challenges effectively, ensuring it stays relevant and impactful.

  • Expand industry partnerships: Collaborating with other sustainability initiatives and organisations can strengthen the GLEC Framework's reach and influence. Further building partnerships with governments, NGOs and industry associations can strengthen its approach to supply chain emissions reduction.

Whatever the future holds for the GLEC Framework, it will play a pivotal role in helping T&L tackle fresh challenges and seize emerging opportunities as the industry transitions to a more sustainable future.

Receive GLEC-accredited emissions measurement in seconds

At Pledge, we’re accredited by the SFC to be in conformance with the GLEC Framework for all major transport modes — Road, Rail, Sea, Air, Inland waterways and logistics hubs. This means we’re suited to both multimodal and single-mode freight forwarders looking to start measuring emissions.

If you’re looking for a GLEC-accredited emissions measurement partner, try out the Pledge platform for free for the first 14 days.