How to reduce GHG emissions: Route optimization – Part2


According to a report published in 2019 by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), all modes of freight transportation rely almost entirely on fossil fuels, which are the primary cause of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming. Freight-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase by 157% on the road and 77% in the marine mode by 2050. Reducing CO2 emissions from the freight sector is thus a major issue in seeking to meet global climate goals.


How to reduce GHG emissions: Route optimization – Part2
Figure 1: Growth in freight CO2 emissions by mode (ITF, 2017). Source: ICCT report 2019.


In our previous article, we explained, from the maritime industry point of view, how route optimization, thanks to weather routing, could be an efficient way to reduce GHG emissions. On the logistic industry side, leading companies address as well environmental challenges as part of their global strategy. They are looking for new ways to create a greener supply chain.

According to Unilever “Since 2010, we have achieved a 38% improvement in our CO2 efficiency, {…} We have achieved this through reducing the number of kilometers traveled. Avoiding wasted journeys and switching to greener transport options {…} we work closely with our suppliers and operators to reduce carbon emissions”


How can operators reduce carbon emissions?


Kuehne + Nagel, a freight forwarder leader in the industry assumes that “making greener choices requires awareness of CO2 footprint along each step of the supply chain {…} This enables optimized routing, carrier and vessel selections, and reduces the carbon footprint caused by redundant inland movements.

On its side, CMA CGM proposes (among other solutions) “multimodal logistics solutions combining river transport and rail/road transit to provide shippers or freight forwarders the “greenest” comprehensive transport solutions.”

These two leaders in their industry show how important route optimization is to reduce GHG emissions. From the freight forwarder side, route optimization consists in a multimodal transportation construction network where transport nodes, such as railway stations, ports, and routes, constitute the most important part of the network Chen, Zhang, Gao & Thompson (2019)

The overall objective of this new blog post is to show effects of changes in port selection on new routes creation and multimodal transport to reduce supply chain GHG emissions.


Why are ports selection important ?


Ports are an important node in the trade network worldwide. They should also be a key selection criterion for improving the environmental performance of the maritime supply chain. Usually, port choice is taken into consideration from economic aspects such as market forces and port efficiency. What about environment efficiency? Researchers such as sanchez et al. have been working on demonstrating that rerouting of containers, away from usual large ports in the UK southeast through ports in the north/ north west could significantly reduce the overall ghg emissions using inland services.

The idea of alternative ports to reduce the carbon footprint of the supply chain has also been taken up in a recent article from Li, Kuang and Yan Hu and conclude with “the importance to incorporate carbon emissions and multimodal transport into port selection as key activities to improve the environmental performance of the maritime supply chain

Indeed ports such as Marseille Fos want to position themselves as an optimal path to connect Western Europe (France, South Germany, Switzerland) with other parts of the world (Asia, India through Suez Canal), from an economic and environmental point of view. Thanks to its hinterland connections, Marseille Fos offers a real opportunity for shippers to reduce their carbon footprint on a door-to-door journey.


According to Stephane Reiche, Port of Marseille Fos’ General Delegate “Combined with efficient multimodal hinterland connections (train, river, barge), we wanted to prove that the overall door-to-door greenhouse gas emissions are lower through Marseille compared with other ports”


Real example of port choice impact on Co2 emissions

Journey: Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany)


How to reduce GHG emissions: Route optimization – Part2
Figure 2: Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Marseille Fos
How to reduce GHG emissions: Route optimization – Part2
Figure 3: Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Antwerpen
How to reduce GHG emissions: Route optimization – Part2
Figure 4: Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Hamburg


Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Marseille Fos219,1 kg/t Co2 emissions

Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Antwerpen: 225,6 kg/t Co2 emissions

Mundra (India) -> Aschaffenburg (Germany) via Hamburg: 249,5 kg/t Co2 emissions


The above figures demonstrate how port selection can make a difference on your door-to-door journey Co2 emissions. If you consider Marseille Fos as an alternative to Northern ports such as Antwerpen, your transportation time transit will be 4 days shorter (eleven days instead of fifteen days via Le Havre). Your carbon footprint 4% lower as you will borrow barges and trucks to forward goods to Aschaffenburg. In the other example, if you plan to go to Aschaffenburg via Hamburg, your Co2 emissions will be 14% higher, compared to Marseille, as you’ll spend more time on sea.

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This shift to multimodal strategies enhances ports choice in the door-to-door journey planning to implement a greener supply chain.


Reducing CO2 emissions is a very broad topic for the maritime and logistics industries. Many players are looking for implementing greener supply chain strategies. We agree that there are many ways to implement such strategies depending on the company profile and size. For example, Home Depot Inc. (THD) one of the largest home improvement retailers, prioritizes the use of efficient truck carriers. On the marine sector they “relie more heavily on equipment strategies”.

Among the solutions available to build a greener supply chain, route optimization seems to be an efficient way. Port selection help find new routes (multimodal transportation) and reduce GHG emissions. As Kuehne + Nagel says, “making greener choices requires awareness of CO2 footprint along each step of the supply chain “. This is where digitalization takes on its full meaning in order to provide new solutions such as Searoutes to help you have the true Co2

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