The COFRET project is co-financed
by European Commission Directorate
General for Research & Innovation as
part of the 7th Framework Programme
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COFRET Newsletter July 2012

 Newsletter Articles



Welcome to the second COFRET Newsletter



Calculating and reducing the carbon footprint of freight transport have been receiving a lot of interest from many people and organisations over recent months. The COFRET project has an important role within this process. COFRET is directly involved because the project is working to improve the methodology used to calculate the carbon footprint of freight transport and logistics operations within the overall supply chain. COFRET also has an important role in working with other organisations, projects and initiatives to ensure that the large amount of work that is being done in this area is co-ordinated. This will result in a common, practical approach to the measurement of the carbon footprint of freight transport as a baseline for assessing the emission reductions that result from future initiatives implemented by the shippers of goods and their transport service providers.

The COFRET methodology will draw upon existing initiatives so that it is aligned with the needs of those responsible for shipping and transporting goods by whatever means. In the first COFRET newsletter we explained that a detailed review of existing methods, tools and databases had been conducted. These reports are currently undergoing the review process. Interim versions can be received on request prior to subsequent publication of the finalised versions on the COFRET website on the understanding that they may be subject to amendments. This information forms the starting point for the conceptual design of the COFRET methodology, which is further explained later in this newsletter.

 We have made significant efforts to bring together the major existing initiatives that are working in this area, and many of these will in future be represented within our Advisory Board, alongside representatives of some of the world's major shippers and transport companies. Some examples of this (by no means a complete list) include:

  • The World Economic Forum, which had already initiated its own Consignment Carbon initiative on a voluntary basis having recognised a need from the private sector. This is now focused on communicating the value of carbon reporting in logistics to a wider audience.
  • The CEN working group 320, technical committee 10 which has drafted a draft European standard for calculating and declaring energy and greenhouse gas emissions by transport services (EN16258). The standard is expected to come into force late in 2012 or early in 2013.
  • EcoTransIT which has recently hosted a seminar dedicated to this issue.
  • Clean Cargo Working Group, which has been focusing on methodologies for calculating the carbon footprint of containerised shipping.
  • Green Freight Europe, an industry-based initiative focused helping member companies to measure and reduce the carbon emissions from their road freight transport operations

All this is matched by initiatives at the national level, initiated both by the private and public sectors, depending on national perspectives. Examples of these initiatives are provided later in this newsletter to emphasise the groundswell of activity in this area across Europe.

For more information please visit the COFRET Project website. You can also join the Linked In Group for carbon Footprinting of Freight Transport to have your say; to join the Linked In group please click here.

 Project Overview



COFRET's objectives are:

  • To establish a complete GHG emission calculation methodology and framework for the transport element of complex supply chains based, where possible, on available calculation tools for CO2 emissions
  • To cover all types of shipments, all types of transport relations (short-range to long-range), both at company level and at the aggregated level of transport and logistics
  • To provide a methodology that is applicable for supply chains within the EU as well as in the global contextTo test the methodology through practical application by key stakeholders in real supply chain situations
  • To promote the incorporation of the COFRET methodology in existing carbon footprinting tools and standardised supply chain management systems.
  • To embed practical exploitation as a key element of the technical work programme to maximise the eventual uptake of the COFRET methodology, tools and outputs.

In order to ensure that our work has direct relevance to potential end users we are closely engaged with our external Advisory Board, which now includes representatives from Clean Cargo Working Group, Connekt, Deutsche Bahn, DHL, Ewals Cargo Care, Fiege, IATA, Kuehne + Nagel, Maersk Line, myclimate, NTM, Swiss, UPM, World Economic Forum and WWF. (Although the Board members provide advice to the COFRET project, the technical content and conclusions of COFRET are those of the project partners and not necessarily endorsed by the Board Members or their employers.) 

 Methodology Development



During the coming months the first version of the COFRET methodology will be finished. COFRET will use this first version to build its 'proof of concept implementation', which will help us to test the methodology through practical application by key stakeholders in real supply chain situations.

The key element of the COFRET methodology is that we want to allocate emissions to specific shipments. Therefore, we distinguish between logistics level and vehicle or equipment level. In essence, at vehicle or equipment level we determine the emissions of the vehicle or equipment that has been used by the regarded shipment. This depends, for example, on the vehicle used, the kilometres driven, the weight of its load etc. At logistics level, we look into the allocation of the total vehicle or equipment emissions to the specific shipment. The latter part is also dependent upon other shipments and empty kilometres.

The COFRET methodology will be equipped with references to some valid sources for default data. These data can be applied in case there is no measured data available on fuel or energy consumption. However, using actual or measured data should always be preferred over default values. In order to give an indication of the accuracy of the calculations performed using the COFRET methodology, the methodology will come with different accuracy labels.

During the development of the proof of concept implementation and the testing of the COFRET methodology, feedback on the draft methodology will be gathered. This feedback will be incorporated into the methodology, before we will formulate the final COFRET methodology.

A supporting element of the methodology development is to understand the existing tools, their good and bad points and how they relate to user needs. To help with this COFRET held a workshop in Brussels with those involved in methodology and tool development on February 15th, 2012 - the report for which is available here.

For more information on the development of the COFRET methodology please contact Diederik de Ree (TNO).

 COFRET Case Studies



COFRET's main objective is to develop and test a methodology and framework for the accurate calculation of transport and logistics carbon emissions in the context of supply chains. We will test the COFRET prototype in a series of case studies in co-operation with logistics providers and freight shippers in Switzerland, Finland, France, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands. The case studies will help to provide feed-back to the COFRET methodology. Information about the case studies can be found by following this link.

For more information on the development of the COFRET methodology please contact Hedi Maurer (NEA).

 Examples of Freight Transport Carbon Calculation and Reduction Initiatives at the National Level



As mentioned previously, there is a lot of activity focused on calculating and reducing the carbon emissions from freight transport. The reasons for this are manifold, including:

  • International agreements and pressure to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy
  • Requests from shippers for transport providers to identify the transport element of the carbon footprint of individual products
  • The high price of fuel that is driving transport efficiency initiatives to reduce costs and consequent reductions in CO2 emissions

The following examples show three different types of approach, varying from a voluntary, industry-led initiative, through a publicly supported efficiency-based programme, to a national regulatory approach.

Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme

The Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) is a free-to-join industry-led initiative established in the UK to record, report and reduce carbon emissions from freight transport. The LCRS provides the UK logistics sector with a focus to publicly report the contribution of its members towards national carbon reduction targets. The scheme is based on measurements of fuel use in the 64 businesses signed up to the LCRS which cover 58,000 vehicles. This allows it to present on a simple, vehicle-based approach the progress of the sector towards its voluntary target of reducing the carbon intensity of freight operations by 8 per cent by 2015.


The Connekt Duurzame Logistiek [Sustainable Logistics] programme is run by Connekt on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in The Netherlands and aims to make an explicit and pragmatic contribution to the sustainability of the logistics chain. The basic assumption is that this goes hand in hand with cost savings and CO2 reductions. The programme supports over 250 so-called 'front-runners'. These front-runners are companies within the logistics sector that wish to commit to the objectives of the programme to reduce their CO2 emissions by at least 20% within a period of 5 years. Connekt unites and supports companies in formulating and integrating sustainability goals in the operational management of their logistics.

The Grenelle Environment

The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing passed a national commitment to the environment in 2010 and has followed this up with a specific decree that sets out a requirement for transport operators in both the passenger and freight transport sectors to report the CO2 emissions from their operations. The decree confirms the basis upon which calculations must be made, which is in line with the draft CEN standard EN 16258, and applies to any transport with and origin, destination or passing through France. Further details and links can be found here. This is the first such national regulation and has raised questions about whether or not other countries are likely to follow suit....

 COFRET Dissemination Activities



COFRET has already been presented at several international seminars and conferences during 2012, including:

22nd - 26th January 2012

trb.JPGCOFRET News Article

 21st - 22nd June 2012

bestfact.JPG COFRET News Article

23rd - 26th April 2012

tra.JPGCOFRET News Article

 25th - 28th June 2012
Prein am Chiemsee

tac.JPG COFRET News Article

 9th - 10th May 2012

efreight.JPGCOFRET News Article


Working alongside other initiatives it is important that we continue to raise the importance of a common and transparent approach to carbon footprinting of freight transport and so in the coming months we'll also be busy attending: 

We also hope to be present again at the TRB in Washington next January and the World Conference for Transport Research next June.

 COFRET Project Next Steps



  • Completion of reports as part of our work programme including:
    • Assessment and typology of existing CO2 calculation tools and methodologies
    • Methodology for CO2 emission calculations
    • A revision of COFRET exploitation plan
  • Discussion of and feedback on the COFRET methodology by the Advisory Board members at a meeting to be held during September 2012.
  • Set up, implementation and assessment of the COFRET case studies
  • Investigation of the potential for co-operation with the iCargo project to test the application of the COFRET methodology as part of an electronic information exchange trial
  • COFRET mid-term meeting and progress review mid of September
  • Ongoing engagement with industry initiatives and international standardisation bodies
  • Initial discussions about how the work of COFRET can be continued after the formal end of the current contract with the EC.


 Did you find this Newsletter interesting?



For more information see or contact Alan Lewis or Verena Ehrler

Newsletter contributors:  Alan Lewis, Hedi Maurer, Jan Kiel, Diederik de Ree & Verena Ehrler

Contact COFRET


The COFRET project is co-financed by European Commission Directorate General for Research & Innovation as part of the 7th Framework Programme 



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