The World Benchmark Alliance’s new Transport Benchmark highlights an urgent need for the sector to work together to develop and scale sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. Published today, the comprehensive analysis of 90 companies covers 25 airlines, nine rail companies, six road companies, 17 shipping companies, and 33 multimodal companies, including five companies that are based in Southeast Asia.
The research was conducted in partnership with CDP, the non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system, and assessed companies including American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Ryanair, Qatar Airways, Maersk, Royal Mail and FedEx. The research uses the Assessing Low-Carbon Transition (ACT) methodology that drives climate action by benchmarking companies against advanced, science-based metrics and also includes social metrics.
Transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels of all sectors, with more than 90 per cent of transport’s energy coming from crude oil-derived products, but despite this, only 7 per cent of companies assessed have committed to phasing out their use of fossil fuels. Across all companies, 85 per cent have fleets which are incompatible with a low-carbon future but the majority failed to disclose any plans for changing this.
Some of the solutions that transport operators need to adopt, such as alternative fuels (including ammonia, hydrogen, and sustainable aviation fuel) and cleaner vehicles (including electric trucks) are still in early development and analysis showed that on average only 0.3 per cent of total transport-related revenues are invested in research and development (R&D) into low-carbon technologies and fuels, such as electric vehicles and sustainable aviation fuels.
Investment in R&D is critical to ensuring that new technologies can come to market more quickly, as is working in partnership with suppliers and developers such as vehicle manufacturers or fuel producers. However, 94 per cent of companies do not provide any meaningful data on research and development into low-carbon vehicles and fuels.
A few companies are using their influence to push for infrastructure solutions, improved climate policy, or customer behaviour change. Only three out of 90 showed any significant support for low-carbon policy and just six directly work with infrastructure operators to build low-carbon solutions. 48 per cent of the benchmarked companies have a strategy to help customers to reduce emissions but none of the companies had set measurable targets for customer engagement to encourage low-carbon alternatives.
The top five performing companies across the Transport Benchmark are:
- ComfortDelGro Corporation – A Singapore-based company operating vehicles in seven countries, including bus, taxi, rail and car rental. It has set multiple 1.5°C validated targets covering all its emissions and developed a detailed low-carbon transition plan.
- La Poste Groupe – The French postal service company has significantly reduced its overall emissions, in part due to the electrification of the company’s fleet, which reached 38 per cent in 2021.
- FirstGroup – A UK public transport company that carried almost 1.5m passengers per day in 2021 on bus and rail. It is the only company that publicly commits to both green and decent jobs, and training workers who risk being displaced by the low-carbon transition.
- NS Groep – The principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. NS Groep’s entire fleet of trains is electrified and it aims to increase the proportion of renewable energy used to power its rail infrastructure. It also engages suppliers and customers to encourage emission reductions.
- Maersk – One of the world’s largest container shipping companies, based in Denmark. It is one of the few companies with a policy to engage trade associations on climate issues, and reviews its membership status annually to ensure its trade associations are in alignment with the Paris Agreement.
Vicky Sins, World Benchmarking Alliance’s Decarbonisation and Energy Transformation Lead, said:
“Transport accounts for 37 per cent of global carbon emissions, so the sector has to step up if we are to keep 1.5 alive. The large-scale change needed cannot be achieved without every company getting actively involved across their business – from research to customer advice to support for low-carbon policies and regulation. There is an urgent need for collaboration to identify and scale solutions.
“Transport companies are vital to connecting people and goods globally – but they cannot thrive unless the places and people around them are thriving too. It is no exaggeration to say the future of our world will be significantly shaped by how these companies translate pledges into action.”
John Leung, CDP’s Director of SEA and ANZ, said:
“Transport is crucial to our economy and our daily lives. It is also, however, one of the largest contributors to climate-damaging greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although the transport industry’s response to climate change is still nowhere near where it needs to be as seen in the latest benchmark launched today, we are pleased to see a Southeast Asian company leading globally on the industry’s environmental and climate action.
We hope that ComfortDelGro’s commitment to climate action and decarbonisation will raise awareness and inspire more companies in Southeast Asia to ramp up their efforts on environmental action and transparency for a 1.5-aligned world. This positive action must be supported with disclosure so company commitments can be measured and managed, which is currently not happening enough across the sector. This means that vital risks are not being assessed or addressed, and all players could be left behind as we see a rise in regulation on mandatory disclosure”.
Other Southeast Asian companies assessed in this report are Singapore-based Ocean Network Express Holdings, Ltd and Singapore Airlines, ranked 43 and 53 respectively, as well as Malaysia-based MISC Berhad, ranked number 15 and J&T Express from Indonesia.