DHL Global Forwarding to use ‘sustainable’ aviation fuel

DHL Global Forwarding has agreed with Air France KLM Cargo (AFKLMP) to buy 33 million litres of ‘sustainable’ aviation fuel for their global operations.

“With our Sustainability Roadmap, we have set ourselves ambitious goals on our journey towards zero emissions. Sustainable fuels are a fundamental part of our efforts. That is why we have committed to covering at least 30 percent of air freight and ocean freight fuel requirements with sustainable fuels by 2030. Our partnership with AFKLMP will help us achieve that goal. At the same time, it serves as another example of the success of our ‘book & claim’ system, which ensures that reductions in Scope 3 emissions are attributed to our customers. We must all work together to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon – and ultimately zero-carbon – emissions transport sector. After all, we only have one planet,” says Tim Scharwath, CEO DHL Global Forwarding, Freight. 

The global freight company claims that sustainable aviation fuel is a a ‘vital’ part of decarbonising the air freight industry. Under its calculations this would reduce carbon emissions from aviation by more than 80,000 tonnes. In using manmade hydrocarbon fuels, so the theory goes, DHL Global Forwarding’s carbon footprint is reduced.

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“The Air France KLM Martinair Cargo teams are strongly committed and feel responsible for creating a sustainable future for our industry. This deal is a great opportunity to accelerate our joint sustainability efforts. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has a lot of potential to reduce CO2 emissions and we are delighted to collaborate with our strong, long-term partner DHL Global Forwarding on this journey to greener logistics and transportation in the coming years,” says Adriaan den Heijer, EVP Air France KLM Cargo and Managing Director Martinair.

There is an issue with this announcement. Firstly, such manmade hydrocarbons still put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as per any combustion. Production involves producing more carbon emissions than simply drilling it, and the reabsorption of carbon in growing oil producing vegetation is far slower than the combustion processes re-emitting it. Finally, the likes of palm oil grown to produce it often involves the destruction of natural rainforests such as orangutan habitats. As such, DHL Global Forwarding’s claims here amount to a form of greenwash. The best solution is to stop burning any hydrocarbons at all and to change business practices as opposed to seeking clever accounting ways of continuing as of old.

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