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Last mile deliveries in Indian metros triggering more emissions than entire countries: Study

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According to a recently published Stand.earth Research Group study, the emissions per last mile delivery in India are significantly higher than the rest of the world average. While the world average emissions per last mile delivery is 204 gCO2, the Indian average soars around 285 gCO2. The study, which has been commissioned by Clean Mobility Collective, said that in metro cities alone i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore the last mile delivery emissions are more than the cumulated emissions of Canada and France. These bulging metrics have the experts concerned.

The report also mentioned that the environmental commitments from the top six global companies in terms of overall emissions – UPS, FedEx, Amazon Logistics, DPD (Strategic partner & significant minority stakeholder of DTDC India), eKart (Flipkart’s courier division), and DHL eCommerce Solutions (courier division of Deutsche Post DHL Group) – are far behind what is required to achieve zero-emission deliveries and also lack transparency.

The short trips that millions of delivery vehicles take every day have a disproportionate impact on pollution, smog, air quality, and, ultimately, our health, as well as our ability to achieve a zero-emission future. It is critical that businesses collaborate with our governments to come clean about their emissions and commit to clear, time-bound plans to reduce them.”

~ Siddharth Sreenivas, Clean Mobility Collective India Coordinator

A factor to such high emissions could be the congested roads and streets in India, as compared to those in the European region or globally. In this case, a faster and efficient switch to electric vehicles, especially in the last mile delivery, may bring down the numbers. The study suggested that e-commerce majors need to enable this transition considering their impact and future growth plans.

However, the shift also needs to be done by those at a lower scale, thereby, making large scale efforts to curb carbon emissions. Moreover, organisations manage their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, while Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company), but most Scope 3 emissions (those from the extended supply chain including sub-contracted last mile delivery partners, outside a company’s direct control) are intractable, highly difficult to quantify and hence, least reported.

For the purpose of the study, the primary e-commerce majors researched in India were Amazon and Flipkart, and a host of courier and logistics companies with significant footprint were also researched, and the findings on emissions and transparency were similar. Some of the major Indian courier and last-mile delivery companies researched include Delhivery, DTDC India, Blue Dart Express, Shadowfax, and Ecom Express.

With many last mile electrification measures being taken already in India, what remains to be seen is how fast can we make the transition to EVs, in order to meet our sustainability goals in the upcoming years.

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