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Here is something to ponder as we end the week. As if Scope 3 emissions couldn’t get murkier, I had the following odd personal experiences this month. In one instance, I placed an order from a supplier in Oklahoma, who shipped the package to San Angelo, Texas using one of the major shipping/delivery companies. The tracking information showed this rather inefficient route:

My heavy package made an unnecessary trek from Arlington to Dallas (farther away from San Angelo), back westward to Arlington (??), then down to San Angelo after four days in transit. Another package at the beginning of the month shipped from a different vendor by a different delivery service left Dallas for Lubbock (north and east of San Angelo and about 340 miles from Dallas), then to Midland (north of San Angelo and about midway between Dallas and Lubbock) before being delivered after ten days of travel.

These experiences got me to thinking about if – or how – product transportation emissions (Scope 3) from inefficient delivery routes – or routes that change in-transit – are identified, calculated and accounted for. This is actually a serious global matter – consider container ship routing changes due to low water levels at the Panama Canal and the Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

How often do expected transportation routes change like this? How would companies know when odd routes happen in order to estimate emissions? Is it incumbent on the shipping company customers to track all their shipments and deliveries to identify these events, or should the shipping company notify customers when it happens and the associated Scope 3 emissions increases beyond the most direct and emissions-efficient routing? Either way, that is a lot of excess work for companies and their shippers, not to mention the cost of extra fuel burned for no valid reason. Seems like the best thing is simply to avoid the excess delivery miles. But as long as this keeps happening, it adds another layer of complication, confusion and inconsistency in reporting for those who have chosen to take on the Scope 3 challenge.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile