Lune Logo
Lune Logo
Maria Lacalle Muls
Maria Lacalle MulsInternational Account Executive, Logistics
What is carbon intensity – and why does it matter in supply chains?
Customers are demanding sustainability, but to deliver you need to know your gCO₂e/tkm.February 7, 2024
What is carbon intensity – and why does it matter in supply chains? | Lune

As more companies change course and drive towards a climate positive world, they are increasingly collaborating with their supply chain. For logistic leaders wanting to deliver on this demand, they not only need to surface carbon emissions, but carbon intensity too. But, what is carbon intensity?

What is carbon intensity?

Carbon intensity measures how polluting a product or service is. Effectively, the more CO₂e a product or service emits – per unit – the higher its carbon intensity.

Understanding carbon emission intensity matters because it gauges whether a company is becoming more carbon efficient over time. Over time a company's overall GHG emissions can increase, while the carbon intensity of their product or service decreases. 

It’s another way to measure decarbonisation. 

A critical data point for several reports; from sustainability reports, to investor communications, all the way to compliance with regulations like the CSDR. And as pressures are mounting to accelerate decarbonisation, more and more companies will look to carbon intensity to demonstrate year-on-year decarbonisation.

Why does carbon intensity matter to logistic platforms?

To calculate a product or service's carbon intensity, companies need to know what their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions are. In some cases, up to 95% of a company's emissions are concentrated in scope 3 according to PwC. Making it a prime target for deep decarbonisation cuts. 

And being part of scope 3, supply chain logistics are right in the firing line. 

Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions explained | What is carbon intensity and why does it matter in supply chains? | Lune climate
Subscribe for the latest insights into driving climate positivity

But innovators in this space will see it as an opportunity to win new business, boost customer loyalty, and accelerate revenue. For those ready to seize it, the estimated value of sustainable business opportunities lies beyond $2.1 trillion.

Download the free guide: Greening the supply chain

A deep dive into carbon intensity in supply chains

So now we know why logistics players need to understand carbon intensity, how exactly do we measure it?  

In logistics, carbon intensity is measured in gCO₂e / tkm. 

That’s a mouthful, let’s unpack it:

gCO₂e means: how many grams of CO₂e (carbon dioxide equivalent) are emitted

t means: for each tonne transported

km means: for each kilometre travelled

It’s how many grams of CO₂e are emitted for each tonne transported for each kilometre travelled. In short, it quantifies how polluting transporting your goods is.

Carbon intensity varies significantly depending on the transport method used. For example, a flight’s carbon intensity ranges between 560 and 1,390 gCO₂e / tkm, while maritime shipments range between 2 and 50+ gCO₂e / tkm.

Even within the same transport method category, carbon intensity can vary significantly. Such as for container ships, there are a few things to consider:

  • The age of the ship
  • The size of the ship
  • The type of engine it uses
  • The type of fuel it uses
  • The actual routing (optimised or not)
  • Container type (is it refrigerated?) 
Different transport methods | What is carbon intensity and why does it matter in supply chains? | Lune climateData from the Fourth IMO GHG Study 2020 shows for example that within the same bulk carrier category the carbon intensity can range between 2.2 and 37.6 gCO₂e/tkm.

It’s a complex and time-consuming process. But for logistic platforms, this means there’s a business opportunity to deliver what your clients can’t.

Deliver granular emission calculations with Lune

With Lune, logistics platforms can unlock granular GLEC certified emissions calculations, like carbon intensity, that empower your clients to get regulation-ready and futureproof their business. Our seamless API integration builds a business case so solid it’s inconvenient to say no.

Carbon intensity over time | What is carbon intensity and why does it matter in supply chains? | Lune climate

Deliver calculations your way. Our flexible inputs work around your current data to deliver granular or high-level calculations by using only three inputs: (1) shipment method, (2) distance and (3) cargo weight. 

With the tides of regulation closing in, it’s imperative that we start measuring our emissions now. Using these insights, we can drive climate action by encouraging users to prioritise sustainability by reducing their reliance on high-carbon-intensity air freight. Simply plug in, and go. 

To learn more about how climate change is impacting logistics, download our free guide: Greening the supply chain.

Subscribe for the latest insights into driving climate positivity-image

Subscribe for the latest insights into driving climate positivity