Conclusive remarks

The transportation of goods and people is constantly increasing due to economic growth and the needs of the global market. For example, the raising trends of e-commerce, deriving from the development of ICTs but also from the restrictions of the Covid-19 period, persist, creating rising demand for freight transport. Largely depending on fossil fuel, the development of the transport sector is leading to significant negative impacts on energy consumption and emissions. Nowadays, this is extremely important due to the climate and energy crisis and the pursuit of the UN sustainable development goals. On the other hand, the transport sector has a very positive impact on the economy and employment. Thus, it is important to promote the transition of the sector towards green and climate-neutral solutions, comprising the appropriate policies, technologies and business models as well as the suitable awareness raising and training of both administrative and operative personnel. In this framework, taking into account that last-mile transportation is an integral part of the logistics chain, the purpose of the “Couriers Go Green” project is to develop a strategy and a training and certification scheme that will offer competencies and motivation to courier, postal and delivery organisations and their personnel in order to optimize their overall green environmental performance.

Focusing on Europe, the current report briefly presents the corresponding policy priorities at EU level. The main strategies for the green transition of the EU economy are outlined in the European Green Deal, which sets ambitious targets for each economic sector including the transport sector. These strategies are interpreted into specific policies in the EU smart and sustainable mobility strategy and the new EU urban mobility framework. Furthermore, the current TEN-T policy is focusing on the deployment of smart and sustainable mutlimodal infrastructure with specific reference to the imprtance of green and effective last-mile transportation in cities that comprise the TEN-T urban nodes. According to this documentation, the target is to reduce GHG emissions from transport by at least 90% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. This is historically the most ambitious target for the EU transport and mobility policy and requires the combination of a wide array of legislation, standardisation, innovation, policy and cooperation to achieve awareness raising, engagement and action. Implementing the EU policy and SDGs, member-states are setting national targets to reduce emissions from transport, with different degrees of ambition and different levels of achievement.

The current report reviews the main tools and methods of international practice, with focus on the EU experience, for the green transition of transport. The tools and methods which were identified refer to the following:

In order to collect data and information by stakeholders, a questionnaire survey and a set of interviews were addressed to both the project’s main target group, i.e. courier, postal and delivery services and public authorities responsible for policy making and management, and secondary target group, i.e. transport & logistics as well as climate and environmental strategy consultants, research institutions and other relevant organisations. According to the survey and interview results, almost ¾ of respondents have a general knowledge of the EU policy on the green transition of transport & logistics while an equal share of respondents are not informed on the corresponding national policy framework, leading to the conclusion that there is a gap of transfering policy from the EU to the national level. The significance of this gap is highlighted by the fact that the ¾ of participants find the implementation of such a policy as very important and necessary to achieve sustainability in the operations of courier, postal and delivery services.

The respondents evaluated the main obstacles towards green transition of a courier/postal/delivery service organisation and found that all obstacles were either somewhat or very significant. The most important barrier refers to the age and condition of the fleet, which is linked to another main barrier, i.e. the low adoption of “green” fuels and zero-carbon vehicles. Other main barriers refer to the energy consumption of buildings and equipment, the low adoption of automation, the insufficient strategic planning and know-how for monitoring and management and the insufficient or ineffective national policies. The respondents were also asked to grade the main priorities towards green transition of a courier/postal/delivery service organisation. All priorities received high scores but, in relation to the above-mentioned obstacles, their selections focused more on the energy efficiency of vehicles, buildings and equipment, the need for effective strategic planning, the employee awareness, training and engagement and the monitoring of emissions and reporting. This conclusion is aligned with the the purpose of the  project to contribute towards the development of a green transition strategy and training/certification scheme.

Out of the 16 participating organisations of the main target group, those that do not have nor plan for a green transition strategy, a training scheme to provide “green” skills to its employees and a certification scheme for these skills correspond to approximately 30%, 50% and 60% respectively. Almost all organisations that implement or plan such strategies or schemes consider that they have a positive impact on green transition of their operations. More specifically, the great majority of respondents stated that their strategy or their corresponding training and certification schemes cover to a significant extent the afore-mentioned priorities for the green transition of their operations. This indicates the importance of the strategies, training and certification schemes for the green transition of transport operations despite the currently limited deployment of such initiatives.