“CO2-neutral transport requires investments”
In online trading, a large part of the CO2 emissions are generated during the delivery of goods. Andreas Marschner is responsible for the transport sector in Europe at Amazon and describes the challenging path to CO2 neutrality in an interview.
Amazon wants to make its processes CO2-neutral by 2040. If we only look at the transport processes that you are responsible for: what are you doing to achieve this goal?
The decarbonization of the transport network is one of the most challenging tasks within our company. Of course, the topic does not only affect online trade, because the goods also have to be transported from the manufacturer to the wholesaler or retailer in stationary trade. Significant investments are required to become CO2-neutral here. That is why we at Amazon will be spending more than one billion euros over the next five years on the further electrification and thus decarbonization of our European transport network.
You are absolutely right: the middle mile in particular is a difficult sector to decarbonize due to the size and weight of trucks and their trailers and the long distances they have to travel. Although electric trucks have promising technology, the number of suitable charging stations is just as limited as the available vehicle models. We are therefore making extensive investments to promote the production of such trucks – so that both we and other companies can soon do without diesel vehicles. Specifically, we want to purchase more than 1,500 electric trucks for our European fleet in the coming years.
Amazon brings hundreds of millions of packages to its customers every year. How do you intend to achieve climate neutrality over the last mile?
The electrification of our delivery fleets also plays a major role here, which is why we are running one of the world’s fastest growing commercial electrification programs. In 2021, more than 3,000 electric delivery vehicles were already in use across Europe to deliver more than 100 million parcels CO2-neutrally – by 2025 we want to expand our fleet to over 10,000 vehicles for the last mile. In Germany alone, more than 1,200 electric vehicles are now delivering parcels and in 2021 alone they delivered more than 40 million CO2-neutral parcels.
Not exclusively, we also rely on artificial intelligence. For example, if we know the opening hours of the store that ordered an item, we won’t try to deliver the item if we know that nobody will be there. This means fewer journeys, fewer delivery vehicles and therefore less CO2 emissions. We are also currently testing alternative delivery methods in various European cities. This includes deliveries by cargo bikes, scooters and on foot. This is how we want to transport parcels more sustainably on the last part of the way to the front door.
What are the particular challenges of delivery in rural areas?
One difficulty in rural areas is building the necessary infrastructure for electromobility: while gas stations are ubiquitous, this is not yet the case for charging stations, especially for battery-powered trucks. Building this infrastructure takes time – finding sites, obtaining building permits, and upgrading the power grid. Therefore, the public and private sectors must work together to make these investments now.
We are on track to power all of our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, which would be five years earlier than originally planned. Specifically, we have now announced more than 100 renewable energy generation projects in Europe, including a wind project in the German North Sea with a capacity of 350 megawatts and two large solar projects on the roofs of the newest logistics centers in Kaiserslautern and Hof-Gattendorf in Bavaria. In order to supply our vans with renewable energy, we are also setting up thousands of special fast charging stations at our European locations, where the vehicles can be charged within around two hours. In addition, we work together with the operators of publicly accessible charging networks,
Amazon operates its own fleet of cargo planes. How can CO2 neutrality be achieved here?
In order to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation, we invest in fuels that are obtained from renewable resources and therefore cause fewer CO2 emissions than conventional fuels. On the ground, we use state-of-the-art electrical equipment to load and unload aircraft and are working to equip our air cargo facilities with rooftop solar panels to generate on-site renewable energy.
What other ideas are there to reduce emissions during transport?
There are some exciting projects – for example, we use data and algorithms to bundle as many deliveries as possible into a single truck. We also analyze which items are most frequently ordered at which location in order to avoid long-distance deliveries if possible.