This year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted that governments’ commitment to a maximum temperature rise of 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, set under the 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is not being met. I am proud that IPC’s Environmental Monitoring and Measurement System (EMMS) programme demonstrates how the postal sector is maximising its efforts in order to reduce its own contribution to global carbon emissions. EMMS participants have continued to collaborate with each other and key stakeholders, such as governments and vehicle manufacturers, to achieve their objective of CO2 emissions reductions. Significant carbon reductions are achieved through a robust approach to carbon management. The report shows that carbon management proficiency throughout the participating posts continues to improve. This is indeed the sine qua non condition for posts to further reduce their CO2 emissions.
Given the IPCC’s report, and that we have been reporting results for six years, it is worth reminding ourselves why continued carbon emissions reductions are essential to the postal sector. Firstly, we are meeting stakeholder expectations to act responsibly. This can be seen clearly, for example, in the rise of sustainable and carbon-neutral products and services offered by our participants. Secondly, our participants operate in the context of evolving national and international policy frameworks, which could have significant impacts on businesses. To illustrate, the sector consumes substantial amounts of fuel for aircraft and vehicles and will be affected by increases in fossil fuel prices. Reducing consumption has financial benefits for participants – using conservative estimates the group has saved €656m (US$871m) through reduced fuel and electricity use since 2008. The case for reducing the sector’s carbon footprint is as strong as, or even stronger than, it was at the start of our programme.
Over the past years, posts have implemented straightforward measures which had an immediate impact on CO2 emissions. After five successive years of substantial reductions and as posts are getting closer and closer to the 20% reduction target by 2020, we observe for the first time a stabilisation of emissions and a slowing down of the reduction pace. Further significant reductions of emissions will now require more important and long-term investments. Participants’ significant decreases in emissions from electricity were counteracted by increases from road transport and heating, due to an expansion of delivery points and harsher winters. This demonstrates the importance of switching to renewable forms of energy when all possible consumption reductions have been accomplished. Posts are, however, showing strong commitment and are well ahead of schedule to achieving the 2020 target.
These results, and the IPCC’s report, motivate us and our participants to intensify carbon management efforts. Broadly these can be split into measures targeted at road transport on the one hand and electricity for buildings on the other, as these are the two primary contributors to the group’s own emissions. Best- practice sharing is a core part of our programme and, as in previous years, I am delighted to see so many examples of post’s initiatives in our Case Studies section. In our engagement with individual posts and the group collectively we will identify key challenges to future reductions and work collaboratively to propose solutions. We remain confident that we will play our part in supporting the IPCC goals by reaching our 20% emission reduction target before 2020, and in doing so will have set up strong management systems to enable continued improvements.