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The ecological footprint of road transport

Blog | The ecological footprint of road transport

What’s Earth Overshoot Day?

Earth Overshoot Day is the calculated date when human resource consumption for the year exceeds the Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources in the course of that year.

If the world lived like the French people, we would use up all the resources produced by Earth over one year on May 5th. This year the Earth Overshoot Day happened on August 1st. That means that since then we are in an ecological resource deficit. This date arrives faster each year as the global carbon footprint increases and the biocapacity of our planet decreases. If nothing changes, it won’t be long before the World Overshoot Day catches up with the French resource deficit.

Human activities impact air, water, soil, flora, fauna and landscapes, which will have terrible repercussions on the future of the human kind.

Air quality

Let’s take the example of the air quality. If you’re not aware of the current state of the air you’re breathing in every day, you can read about it here: http://airindex.eea.europa.eu. Still think it isn’t that bad?

Some of us don’t realize the fact that our actions have long term repercussions and what we are witnessing right now is just the beginning of the disasters that await us if nothing changes. You can easily notice a difference in the emissions depending on the economies of different countries. We should learn from one another about the best practices to cut down pollution to make sure that getting our planet back in shape will be an effect of collective effort.

The decreasing air quality is still affected by the pollutants humans eject, let’s analyse them a bit closer.

Pollutants

What are the pollutants we are speaking of and what are their amounts?

A change in the process concerning the sulphur rate between 1998 and 1999 or 2008 and 2009 explains the decrease you can observe in N₂O: however, it isn’t a reduction in the consumption. Without these improvements, the N₂O emissions would be way higher than they are today. There is still a lot of work left to do.

Adding catalysts to gasoline vehicles explains the decrease of the CH₄ ejection.

Road transport currently constitutes around 1/5th of the total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, emitted in the EU. Although, the amount of the greenhouse gasses produced declined by 3.3% in 2012, they are still 20.5% higher when compared to the statistics from 1990. This makes transport the only major sector in the EU with a rising trend in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

All these pollutants emerge from the transformation of energy. What are the processes involved in this process?

Transformation of energy

There is a famous sentence about energy: “Nothing lost, nothing created, everything transformed”. This energy consumption creates pollutants, through three major types of activities:

  • combustion of the oil and its aftertreatment
  • evaporation of the fuel and leak of air conditioning
  • emissions related to abrasion (the burning of tyres and asphalt)

Now, you might be wondering how much of the general energy consumption within transport is attributed to road transport.

Road transport energy consumption

You have probably heard of the biggest ships like the Jules Verne one, the Christopher Columbus ship or planes such as the Antonov AN-225 Mriya for the transport of goods (note: Goods, Army and Passenger transport are the 3 different types we distinguish). Considering their size, you might suspect that these giants make the energy consumption of road transport look ridiculous compared to them.

Well, we couldn’t be more wrong about it, what is a first hint about the size of the problem we are facing, right? The emissions generated by those giants is nothing compared to the road transport…

Luckily, some solutions had already been invented and are constantly applied to keep reducing that energy consumption.

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URBANTZ

Today more and more companies wish to limit their emissions by implementing ecological means of transport. URBANTZ focuses on helping companies, which are not ready to switch to electric vehicles yet, thus still using fuel trucks, which unfortunately are still the majority.

By optimizing their rounds and increasing overall efficiency, the URBANTZ software directly decreases the trucks’ energy consumption for some of the biggest carriers, food delivery businesses, retailers or e-commerce players all over the world.

A truck with an optimized round will be more productive, while traveling less kilometres, which directly affects the amount of pollution caused.

Warning and communicating in real time with the final customer — all of us who love shopping online — also prevents failed deliveries, which would usually have to be postponed to the next day. This enables companies to cut down the pollution created on the way to one single package recipient by half.

Reducing the carbon footprint and the energy consumption is a problem companies must take care of as soon as possible. Especially, due to the fact that the consumers are now very aware of the troubles our planet is facing, thus sensitive to corporate social responsibility matters.

Source : WWF L’autre déficit de la France

CITEPA, 2018. Rapport CCNUCC

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