Deutsche Post DHL Group is delivering climate actionWe Mean Business coalition
Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) is the world’s leading mail and logistics company, with more than half a million employees in more than 220 countries and territories.
In 2017, the logistics group – headquartered in Bonn, Germany – achieved more than €60 billion revenue, moving an average of 4.6 million parcels and 59 million letters per working day.
We spoke to Birgit Hensel, Vice President of Shared Value at DPDHL.
As a member of the EV100 initiative, led by The Climate Group, DPDHL is committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles. DPDHL is also committed to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions and to setting a science-based emission reduction target (SBTs).
In March 2017, DPDHL announced its global environmental protection strategy – Mission 2050: Zero Emissions, the latest stage in its ‘GoGreen’ journey, to reduce logistics-related emissions to zero by the year 2050 – not just greenhouse gases, but also local air pollutants.
More than 97% of the group’s carbon emissions are directly related to logistics, because it includes everything from vehicles to sorting centers. In 2017, the group’s total annual carbon emissions amounted to 28.44 million tons of CO2 equivalent – meaning that eliminating the logistics-related emissions would be roughly comparable to cutting the emissions from the entire city of Las Vegas, USA.
The company also defined specific interim targets to be achieved by 2025: for example, to increase carbon efficiency by 50% compared to 2007 levels.
By 2025, DPDHL aims to operate 70% of its own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions, such as bicycles and electric vehicles, thus reducing local air pollution. DPDHL also aims to train 80% of employees as ‘Certified GoGreen specialists’ to get them involved in the environmental and climate protection activities. In addition, DPDHL has a target to plant one million trees every year together with partners.
DPDHL is currently working with the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), to ensure its emissions reduction targets are in line with the level of decarbonization required to reach the 2°C goal established at the 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference (COP21).
Alongside the climate change and emissions targets, DPDHL also has a sales target: more than 50% of sales must incorporate green solutions.
WHAT ACTION HAVE YOU TAKEN TO DELIVER AGAINST CLIMATE COMMITMENTS?
When we wanted to update our fleet with electric delivery vans in 2011 we couldn’t find anything suitable in the marketplace, so we created our own. Our e-vehicle, a four-wheel van we call the StreetScooter, was developed according to the specifications of our employees by our subsidiary StreetScooter GmbH which is now leading producer of electric delivery vehicles.
StreetScooter has been operating since 2015 in Germany and increasingly across other European countries. That came with new business opportunities – we now make and sell them for third parties too. Currently we have more than 6,000 StreetScooter in place. This is an ongoing process, at present StreetScooter has production capacities of up to 20,000 electric vehicles per year.
We are also using ‘cubicycles‘ for inner-city deliveries – these are electric cargo bikes with a container on the back, and three of them can replace two vans. Selected van drivers were given the choice to switch to bikes, with professional cycling gear and training. Those who chose to do so have told us they are fitter, healthier, and parking is easier: you can get much closer to the entrances of offices and business facilities.
The GoGreen environmental program is a permanent component of the company’s strategy. We require that all our new investments are more carbon efficient than their predecessors, this allows us to push technologies like LED or aerodynamics into our operations quickly.
WHAT ARE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR AND ARE YOU GOING FURTHER, FASTER?
We are currently operating 28% of first mile and last mile services with clean transport solutions, which is well on the way to our target of 70% by 2025. We have also increased carbon efficiency by 32%, compared to 2007 levels, as part of our target to increase carbon efficiency by 50% by 2025.
Our first GoGreen target in 2008 was to become 30% more carbon efficient by 2020. We already achieved this target by 2016, demonstrating how we have gone over and above expectations to achieve ambitious targets.
This led us to set an even more ambitious goal: to reduce all transport-related emissions to zero by 2050 and make an important contribution to the well below 2°C temperature goal established under the Paris Agreement.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE COMPANY OF HAVING THE TARGETS?
We find that ambitious targets create opportunities and uncover new business models. Our climate activities are not so much to minimize risk but to gain value. Sustainable logistics solutions are becoming increasingly important for both consumers and business customers. We are setting new standards for the industry and have a competitive advantage with our ambitious environmental strategy, Mission 2050: Zero Emissions.
If we want to achieve our Mission 2050 targets we have to be innovative and reinvent the business if needed, which might lead to new business opportunities. Our StreetScooter is the best example – we couldn’t find anything in the market so we created our own vehicle, which we now make and sell to third parties. But by always asking these kinds of questions, it means we are bold enough and strong enough to find new lines of business.
There are immediate cost benefits too. A single StreetScooter is cost efficient to run: this results in 60-80% less maintenance costs, 60-80% less fuel costs, and no motor vehicle tax, which in Germany would amount to €2,640 per van, over the typical fleet lifetime of eight years.
ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS TO THE LOCAL OR NATIONAL ECONOMY?
Our clean air delivery solutions mean we have better air quality in our cities, as well as less noise. With StreetScooter production we are literally creating new workplaces and employment for local people.
We also shouldn’t underestimate the ‘lighthouse’ effect: with our zero emissions logistics vision in place, more and more engineers and start-up companies will come forward looking for opportunities with us. This should create a catalyst for new employment opportunities.
The action we are taking to plant one million trees each year has a real impact on local communities. With partners, we have a project in Vietnam helping to save the swamp forests, for example. But our employees are planting trees where they work, too – here in Bonn, my own team planted 600 trees. It was really fun, you get a good feeling.
WHAT POLICIES WOULD MAKE ACHIEVING THE TARGETS EASIER?
We would like to see that all countries have national climate targets in place and are committed to meeting them. That can be the missing link. The more concrete the action the better, it is clear what we have to do now. The Paris Agreement is the right way forward and we need to have more political alignment.
WHAT WIDER IMPACT DO COMPANIES HAVE BY MAKING SUCH COMMITMENTS?
We are convinced that by acting as a role model, others will follow: investors, employees, people seeking work opportunities, customers looking for green solutions.
We should inspire and support them. As the world’s leading mail and logistics company we take our societal responsibility very serious – not only because our stakeholders expect that. We are convinced that becoming a zero emissions logistics company will make a difference for the environment and on how we make business in the future. Once we are a zero emissions logistics company, we are in a better position as a business, and as a society.