More than 200 industry experts contributed to this six-month report. All of them pose the idea that decarbonization is a ‘technical feasibility’ using technology currently being developed and tested for commercial applications. The complete cost to perform this monumental task would represent less than 0.5 percent of GDP by 2050. However, reducing it even further is possible as technology advances and energy efficiency grows.
Let's take a look at how much further we have to go to finally and fully realize a zero-emission supply chain...
What is the Cost to Consumers?
One of the major hurdles to implementing a carbon-less supply chain is the impact or cost it would have on consumers. More specifically, the cost of producing consumer products that are manufactured from ‘green’ materials.
According to the report, the financial impact would be rather minimal with only a few common consumer items rising to match inflation.
The use of green steel in automotive manufacturing would add an additional $180 on the cost of production of the vehicle.
Green shipping methods would likely add less than a single percentage onto the cost of goods on imported jeans.
The use of low carbon produced plastics with soda bottles would add just $0.01 to the cost of goods for sodas.
However, detractors argue that the increase in the cost of goods does not always reflect the mark-up of businesses that charge a premium for "green products". This is a fundamental roadblock that may present an issue unless some sort of agreement is established or regulation enacted.
The Global Role in Zero Emissions Supply Chains
While we tend to look inward with climate change and what should be done to reduce emissions, there's another elephant in the room. The bigger issue is the huge impact that India and China have on carbon emissions on a global scale. This report indicates more than 50% of the global emission of carbon-based fuels occurs in Asia. More specifically, the report targets China and India in this reference.
This introduces a major objective that must be resolved for a true zero emissions supply chain.
These two countries, in the past, have not been entirely interested in reducing their dependence on carbon-based fuels. One practical example of this is the epidemic of COPD that both countries face. This incurable respiratory disease is linked to smoking and the constant inhalation of emissions of carbon-based fuels, alongside poor air quality.
However, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel...
Many industry experts are starting to notice a shift in India’s focus on modernization. Mainly, the use of battery or hydrogen fuel cells in transportation vehicles. For those using liquid fuels, the integration of bio or synthetic fuels for long-distance vehicles seems to be gaining traction.
The Hard Truth About Achieving a Net Zero Supply Chain
The report indicates that these changes could permit us to achieve zero emissions in a relatively short period of time. However, other changes to our daily operations are required in order to hit the 2060 goal.
The use of hydrogen for electricity will play a major role in helping to achieve this lofty goal. It’s estimated that the use of hydrogen will need to increase by 11% by mid-century.
Carbon capture systems need to become more common. Those in the trucking industry can relate to the current challenges associated with regeneration systems. According to the report, in order to achieve the net-zero carbon standard, this will require enhancement across all segments.
The report by the ETC represents a blueprint for net-zero carbon emissions. However, the reality is that blueprints must be followed for them to have any sort of positive effect. There are several challenges that supply chain partners will need to overcome. These range from the cost of goods to changing of business philosophy in order to fully eliminate carbon-based fuels.