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SHD Logistics Conference: Last Mile with Sandra Roling

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Bonnie Cliff, content lead for the SHD Logistics Conference, interviews speaker Sandra Roling, head of The Climate Group – EV100, about working towards an eco-friendly last mile.

Sandra is head of The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, a global leadership platform bringing together major companies committed to accelerating the switch to electric transport to make it ‘the new normal’ by 2030. She also leads the development of its broader work on electro-mobility and clean54_sandra roling.jpg transport. Sandra has held various positions in developing The Climate Group’s engagement work with business as well as sub-national governments. She was also part of the founding secretariat for the We Mean Business coalition. Prior to joining The Climate Group, Sandra spent eight years in Brussels, where she led the public affairs team of a German political communications agency and set up its EU office. 

Bonnie Cliff (BC): When it comes to transport, does electric necessarily mean eco-friendly? 

Sandra Roling (SR): If we want to keep climate change within manageable levels, we need to half emissions over the next decade. Almost a quarter of global emissions are currently coming from the transport sector. Electro-mobility is absolutely crucial to these targets as the one technology that -if powered with clean electricity – allows for zero carbon transport. Already with today’s energy mix, the net impact is positive compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, and the climate benefit will only grow as the share of renewables in the energy mix continues to increase. Of course, we’ll need to make sure batteries are recycled and the supply chain for their components is sustainable, and it’s good to see the industry is already developing those solutions.  

BC: What are companies in the EV100 getting right about deploying an electric fleet? 

SR: EV100 is all about leadership. The companies involved are committing to transition their operations to electric by 2030. By setting out forward-looking ambitions, they are sending an important demand signal to manufacturers and policy makers that business is ready for electrification. They are also setting an example for their industry peers, their staff and their customers, demonstrating the transition is already well under way. The 68 global companies involved in EV100 so far have already put over 80,000 electric vehicles on the road, which is a great proof that the time is now right for an ambitious approach.  

BC: How feasible are the costs (both financial and otherwise) involved with transitioning to electric? 

SR: You have to look at the cost from a total cost of ownership perspective – upfront costs for vehicles are higher, but you stand to save on fuel, maintenance and report. Especially in urban contexts, where driving distances are well within range and vehicles in constant use, the calculations often already turn out positive. Austrian Post, for example, are expecting their electric vans to be 10% cheaper than ICEs over an eight-year life cycle. It’s also important to keep in mind that this is not just about today’s cost, but about future-proofing businesses. Looking at the increasing pressures from both climate change and air pollution and, for example, the many global cities already planning zero emission zones, many companies prefer to get ahead of the curve now to be competitive in a climate conscious world.  

BC: Please could you give an example of a company which has already made progress in delivering a zero-emission last mile scheme? 

SR: Ingka Group (IKEA) is a great example of the step-wise approach we recommend companies take in rolling out their electrification strategies. They have pledged to make all last mile deliveries electric or other zero emission means by 2025, starting with five global cities – Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Paris, New York and Shanghai – by 2020. In Shanghai they already reached that target last year. Tackling these five cities already mean 25% of their furniture home deliveries will be zero emission. They also provide a solid range of case studies for trialling and testing out different approaches, which can then be rolled out more broadly.  

BC: What will be the biggest challenge to the sustainable supply chain in the next five years? 

SR: Two of the main challenges we are hearing about from our members are the expansion of charging infrastructure and the availability of vehicles. Especially when it comes to larger commercial models, we need more options to meet specification requirements, and we need them to be available in sufficient quantities in all the geographies they’re wanted. That’s why a platform like EV100 is so important, not just for the individual leadership of the companies involved and the peer learning opportunity it provides to them, but to build a public voice of business leaders that engages with policy makers and other market stakeholders to drive the transformation we need. 

Following recent COVID-19 developments, we have taken the decision to postpone this year’s SHD Logistics Conference – taking place at London’s British Museum – until Wednesday 30 September 2020.  

To find out who else is speaking and how to attend visit www.logisticsconference.co.uk

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