If companies can join forces and tackle the global climate problem with focus and determination, then an emissions-free future becomes not just a Utopian vision, but a very real possibility.
Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity, the urgency of which was again underscored during the 2017 UN climate change conference (COP 23) in Bonn. If we are serious about limiting global warming to below two degrees Celsius, we need to accelerate our efforts, and be more willing than ever to reimagine conventional ways of doing things. It’s a question that policy makers, industry and the general public all need to consider together: how to re-design commercial and private mobility so that economic growth no longer translates into greater emissions?
Emissions-free mobility requires optimizing current solutions and capitalizing on today’s opportunities.
I am not a proponent of focusing on a single approach to solving a problem. Effective and lasting change requires a systematic approach. The first step? Agreeing on a clear – and ambitious – goal. Deutsche Post DHL Group set just such a target in 2017, committing to achieving zero-emission logistics by the year 2050.
E-mobility has been given “green light” by policy makers
The United Nations, too, established a clear climate goal with the 2015 Paris Agreement, which many countries have already begun working towards with concrete action plans. China, for example, will require car makers to produce a minimum number of electric cars beginning in 2019. In Germany, the government established its National Platform for Electric Mobility several years ago.
Now that e-mobility has been given the “green light” by policy makers, it is up to the automobile and logistics industries to work within this political framework to find innovative and effective solutions for environmentally-friendly mobility. 2017 was a good year for e-mobility, but the internal combustion engine is by no means dead, especially in the area of individual mobility. Over the medium term, conventional drive systems will continue to be the reality on our road, and we should not disparage new environmentally-friendly mobility concepts that rely on combustion engines. Nevertheless, e-mobility is an impressive example of how new technologies can and will continue to enhance our mobility.
Electric mobility technologies are full of potential for the future.
While e-mobility is certainly not the only way to achieve an emissions-free future, it represents a very promising start. After clearly defining the goals, the next step is for the players, especially those shaping urban mobility, to reassess today’s business models, and to join with business partners and customers to introduce new ways of supplying communities with goods and services. Those who are ready to fundamentally re-think established process are the ones most likely to hit upon the transformative new solutions we need – the ones that lead to new approaches with long-term potential. I believe that electric mobility even has the potential to become the new standard in mobility, especially in the logistics industry, but beyond logistics as well.
Certainly there are still hurdles. Effective mobility solutions must be both environmentally and economically sound, and respond to real-world needs. So far, electric mobility fulfills these requirements only partially. While there are some very promising e-solutions already proving effective for commercial use, such as last-mile pickup and delivery in cities, e-mobility for the masses remains strapped by a number of limitations. The cost of electric vehicles is in many cases still too high, and battery capacity is still too limited for long distances. Moreover, charging stations, both for commercial and private use, are still too few and far between.
As a world leader in both engineering and car manufacturing, I am very optimistic that Germany can overcome these remaining hurdles. I believe quite firmly that Germany has the potential to play a leading role in the further development and implementation of electric mobility. In countries like Norway, e-mobility has long since become part of everyday life – so why shouldn’t it work in Germany?
The future of mobility also means avoiding unnecessary trips.
Last year, Deutsche Post delivered some 4.3 million parcels a day to German households, and we expect these volumes to continue to grow significantly. But we cannot allow more goods to translate into more emissions. This will require us to further improve last-mile efficiency and avoid trips whenever possible. We are already seeing this today with intelligent route planning and new delivery solutions such as Packstations, private parcel boxes and preferred-address delivery.
Ambitious targets are a must.
In the real world of business, the need to set ambitious goals and commitments is simply a fact of life. Only with high aspirations can you inspire new ideas and initiate transformative solutions. We at Deutsche Post DHL Group are on a mission – our Mission 2050. By the year 2050, we want to reduce our logistics-related emissions to zero. From today’s perspective it is impossible to know exactly which steps we will take along the way to realizing our 2050 vision, but I am convinced that we will get there – propelled by new solutions for the first and last mile, the intelligent use of new technologies, and the creativity of our people.
If we want to preserve our planet, we simply need to set ambitious targets. Without these high aspirations, people and organizations lack the necessary motivation and, more importantly, courage for true innovation. Only then can companies contribute to the transformation towards greater resource efficiency. If we do it right, then we will look back on 2017 as a good, and indeed decisive, year for e-mobility.