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London City AirportLONDON: October 01, 2019. Government investment plans in UK road transport infrastructure has received a cautious welcome from the country's forwarding sector.

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has given a cautious welcome to the news that the UK Government has confirmed a commitment by the previous administration to invest some £25 billion in England’s road transport infrastructure.

BIFA Director General, Robert Keen, says: “We have regularly said that there has been too little investment in the UK road infrastructure network over many years.

“This lack of spending has caused the country’s network of A roads and motorways to become congested, undermining the UK’s competitiveness in comparison to its international peers.

“BIFA has said repeatedly that it is imperative that new road building and road reconstruction projects are not only implemented, but developed in such a way as to maximise their functionality.

“Whilst today’s announcement does not appear to be additional funding to that announced by the previous administration, it does offer some clarity on where the funds will be spent between 2020 and 2025, with 14 of England's major roads being upgraded, including the widening of the A12, that key artery to and from the port of Felixstowe.

“That will be welcome news for BIFA members, which as freight forwarders, rely on the road network to move Britain’s visible domestic and international trade.

“We are now hopeful that talk of infrastructure investment will cease to be just talk and we will see some spades in the ground.”

LONDON: September 25, 2019. IHS Markit has launched a benchmark index for the global price of carbon credits, developed in conjunction with Climate Finance Partners.

According to its new 'IHS Markit Global Carbon Index', the global weighted average price of carbon credits is US$23.65. The company says since the beginning of 2018, the total return potential for investors in global carbon has been132 percent,

china carbonThe design, construction and administration of the new index is a result of extensive collaboration among the firm’s Indices, Environmental and Energy businesses, including OPIS, the company’s energy price reporting arm, which offers data and pricing services to help businesses manage costs and risks associated with national and regional environmental compliance programs.

The index tracks the performance of the largest and most accessible tradable carbon markets including the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS), the California Cap-and-Trade Program and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The index is calculated using OPIS plus data and carbon credit futures pricing in those markets.

With 57 jurisdictions employing carbon pricing mechanisms, up 34 percent since 2017, IHS claims putting a price on CO2 emissions via cap and trade programmes is a primary strategy for reducing carbon emissions.

“The IHS Markit Global Carbon index creates an important benchmark which helps financial institutions to better assess and price climate-related financial risks,” commented Eron Bloomgarden, co-founder of Climate Finance Partners. “We see growing investor interest in carbon credits as an asset class.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 19, 2019. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has decided leading by example can persuade corporations worldwide to implement climate crisis solutions before it is too late.

Together with former UN climate head Christina Figueres, he has launched The Climate Pledge, a call for companies to be emission net zero by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement goal.

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” said Bezos (pictured). “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year—can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos“I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments,” he added.

To do this his company has ordered 100,000 electric vehicles from Rivian, with deliveries beginning in 2021. Amazon has already invested US$400 million in the manufacturer that has a plant in Normal, Illinois.

Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles operating by 2030 – saving four million tonnes of carbon per year by then.

Bezos has also launched a partnership with The Nature Conservancy called the Right Now Climate Fund and his company has committed US$100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands and peatlands around the world and so remove millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” commented Figueres, the founding partner of Global Optimism.

“If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join,” she continued.

With the launch of a new sustainability website reporting on its commitments, initiatives and performance, Amazon is pledging to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2024; 100 percent renewable energy by 2030; 50 percent of shipments net zero carbon by 2030 and company-wide operations net zero carbon by 2040.

WASHINGTON DC: August 19, 2019. U.S. business leaders have decided maximizing shareholder value, to the potential detriment of all else, is no longer the core objective of American companies.

A new statement of purpose published by the US Business Roundtable and signed by 181 CEOs says corporations should exist for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

According to analysis of federal data by America’s largest labour federation, the AFL-CIO, last year the country’s CEOs earned an average US$14.5 million compared to an average US$39,888 for rank-and-file workers.

Now the CEOs want to “promote an economy that serves all Americans”, rather than just a few, by declaring a commitment to: “Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

Southwest Airlines pilots“Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.

“Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.

“Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.

“Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.”

It didn’t take 50 years for Herb Kelleher, the legendary co-founder, CEO and executive chairman of Southwest Airlines who passed away earlier this year, to come to a similar conclusion. When Southwest took to the air in 1971, he famously declared happy employees come first because they make happy returning customers and subsequently happy shareholders.

This month Southwest declared its 172nd consecutive quarterly dividend after a second quarter record net profit of US$741 million by putting employees not shareholders first. Be interesting to see how many employees turn up at any of the memorial services of the signatories to this latest corporate governance iteration from the Business Roundtable.

For Southwest current and former staff, the convention centre in Dallas wasn’t big enough – it could only hold 5,000 of them.

Pictured: Southwest has launched a career programme called ‘Destination 225°’ to become a qualified candidate for future Southwest First Officer positions.

PORTO, Portugal: May 27, 2019. Logistics incubator Maersk Growth, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, has invested US$1.5 million in fashion logistics startup HUUB, following an initial €2.5 investment from Portuguese venture capital company Pathena last year.

HUUB’s platform integrates with e-commerce sites to provide production follow-up, picking, storage, stock management, order fulfillment, packing, and shipping. The company’s algorithms also analyse sales to prevent understocking.

HUUB staff “We were looking for ‘smart money’ that means we wanted to ensure that, besides having the financial capabilities, our new partner could also bring value to the company,” said co-founder and CEO Luis Roque. “Maersk Growth undoubtedly represents the biggest player in this industry, and we are sure that they will continue to be a fundamental partner in HUUB’s growth.”

With the new funding, HUUB says it plans to triple the number of brands in its portfolio, expand its European logistics operations and hire more employees to further develop its commercial strategies and technology.

“We have been following HUUB and were impressed with its solution to the supply chain for fashion brands and its fast growth both in terms of customers and revenue,” said Maersk Growth partner Tobias Elmquist. “Leveraging Maersk’s industry expertise and global network we look forward to supporting HUUBs plans to further accelerate business growth.”

HUUB plans to close 2019 with a revenue of €3.5 million, a growth of around 200 percent year-on-year. The startup has also seen a 47 percent increase in brands in the first half of the year over the whole of 2018.

“Ever since we lead last year’s investment round, we knew that there would be an opportunity to strengthen this seed with a relevant strategic partner,” said Vítor Dinis, managing partner and CFO of Pathena. “Maersk Growth is exactly that player, which not only brings financial support but also the global structure needed to accompany HUUB’s global growth.”

DUBLIN: August 14, 2019. A survey of its members by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec), representing 70 percent of the country’s private sector, suggests only half understand the term ‘Circular Economy’ and only 39 percent know of EU initiatives to drive sustainable change.

Conducted by Ibec in association with Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 49 percent of survey respondents agree a more circular economy presents a long-term business opportunity. However, only 10 percent of companies have a specific budget in place and 39 percent say the necessary funding would be a major challenge.

Circle Economy Ireland reportThe circular economy starts at the design phase of a product’s life with the aim of keeping resources in use for a long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, and finally recovering or regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.

“There is an emerging consensus globally across business and society of the need to ensure that how we do business and live our lives is more sustainable,” said Ibec head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Neil Walker. “Our survey highlights the necessity for an education drive across business, policymakers and wider society of the merits and potential benefits of the circular economy.”

Walker added that new legislation is expected to have an impact on business in Ireland including improved waste management, reduced use of hazardous substances and improved design and re-usability of goods and services.

“The circular economy is the next industrial revolution and defines the future of commercial activity in Ireland and across the world,” declared EPA Programme manager Mary Frances Rochford. “Many world-class Irish companies already recognise this new reality and have adapted their operating models. These companies have reduced costs by cutting wastage and emissions; and have also generated new revenue streams by re-examining how materials move through their business and market. Those who fail to adapt are not only missing new growth opportunities but will also find that legislative developments will put pressure on current wasteful practices.”

Ibec is the largest business lobby group and largest lobbying organisation in Ireland representing business of all sizes spanning every sector of the economy.

LONDON: May 17, 2019. UK-based restaurant food delivery company Deliveroo says Amazon is leading a new US$575 million funding round, alongside existing investors T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research and Greenoaks.

Founded in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski, the company says it has now raised US$1.53 billion to deliver food from 80,000 restaurants to consumers in 14 countries.

Deliveroo food companyDeliveroo says the new money will enable it to offer more work for an estimated 60,000 freelance riders and help restaurants to grow their businesses by reaching new customers.

"We're impressed with Deliveroo's approach, and their dedication to providing customers with an ever-increasing selection of great restaurants along with convenient delivery options," said Doug Gurr, Amazon UK Country manager. "Will and his team have built an innovative technology and service, and we're excited to see what they do next."

Deliveroo operates in over 500 towns and cities in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, UAE, Kuwait and the UK.

"Amazon has been an inspiration to me personally and to the company, and we look forward to working with such a customer-obsessed organisation,” declared founder and CEO Will Shu. "This new investment will help [us] to grow and to offer customers even more choice, tailored to their personal tastes, offer restaurants greater opportunities to grow and expand their businesses, and to create more flexible, well-paid work for riders.”

Deliveroo says the top ten dishes delivered on behalf of restuarants and fast-food outlets in 2018 were: 1) Pad Thaï from Thaï at Home, Paris; 2) Cheeseburger from Five Guys, London; 3) Sushi Lovers Poke Bowl from CALI-POKE, Dubai; 4) Burrito from Boojum, Dublin; 5) Bubble Tea from Tenren's Tea, Hong Kong; 6) Grilled Chicken Burrito from Guzman Y Gomez, Sydney; 7) Burrito from Gonzalez & Co, Barcelona; 8) Beef Burger from Tommi's Burger Joint, Berlin; 9) Poke Bowl from Temakery, Amsterdam; and 10) 2 Hot Wings® from KFC, Brighton.

ATLANTA: August 15, 2019. UPS Ventures has announced an unspecified minority stake in Chinese-backed autonomous driving technology company TuSimple.

TuSimple is helping UPS better understand the application of Level 4 Autonomous trucking which means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control, despite the presence of a driver.

UPS has been providing truckloads for TuSimple to carry between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona since May this year (pictured), with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. During its peak shipping season, UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies and TuSimple says it can cut such costs by an average 30 percent.

According to the American Trucking Association the shortage of drivers in the US could reach 175,000 by 2024.

“While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering,” declared UPS Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer Scott Price. “All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

TuSimple self driving truckFounded in 2015, TuSimple is developing technology that allows shipping companies to operate self-driving Class 8 tractor-trailers – those that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.

In May the U.S. Postal Service awarded the company a contract to perform five round trips hauling USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix and Dallas distribution centres. Long-haul routes with short turnaround times, such as this 22 hour journey, are well suited for self- driving trucks because they are normally accomplished with driving teams of two, says TruSimple.

“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” commented company founder Xiaodi Hou.

In a related announcement, the latest Cass Information Freight Index has reported a 5.9 percent drop in US freight shipments in July – the eighth month of consecutive declines.

“With the -5.9 percent drop in July, following the -5.3 percent drop in June, and the -6.0 percent drop in May, we repeat our message from last two months: the shipments index has gone from ‘warning of a potential slowdown’ to ‘signaling an economic contraction,’” said report author David Broughton.

“The weakness in spot market pricing for many transportation services, especially trucking, is consistent with the negative Cass Shipments Index and, along with airfreight and railroad volume data, strengthens our concerns about the economy and the risk of ongoing trade policy disputes.

“Weakness in commodity prices, and the decline in interest rates, have joined the chorus of signals calling for an economic contraction,” he added.

The Cass Freight Index accurately measures trends in North American shipping activity based on US$28 billion in paid freight expenses for the Cass customer base of hundreds of large shippers.

Cass report

DHL drone service in ChinaBONN/ GUANGZHOU: May 16, 2019. DHL Express and drone manufacturer EHang have partnered to launch a fully automated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) delivery solution for last-mile delivery in urban areas of China.

The EHang Falcon smart drone, which can carry up to five kilos per flight, takes off and lands on intelligent cabinets that were developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of shipments.

The drone operates an eight kilometres route between a customer’s facility and a DHL service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province. The company claims it is the first international express company to provide such a service in China.

The result is a cut in delivery time from 40 minutes to eight and an 80 percent reduction in costs plus carbon emissions compared to a truck.

“Together with DHL we are very glad to bring the first smart drone delivery service route to China in Guangzhou; this marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities,” declared EHang founder H Huazhi. “Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution to be expanded and realized in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”

LILLESTRØM, Norway: June 05, 2019. Six Nordic companies that have formed the Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) initiative, are proposing an ecosystem of offshore clean energy hubs supplying green ammonia as a zero-emission fuel.

Smart technology provider Wärtsilä is leading the effort joined by engineering experts Aker Solutions; multinational energy major Equinor; engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) leader Kvaerner; ferry and logistics specialist DFDS and shipowner Grieg Star.

The energy hubs would be strategically located close to Northern Europe's busiest shipping corridors capable of producing, storing and distributing renewable fuels to vessels in transit. “Fuel stations placed in a highly-trafficked area such as outside Bornholm or in Skagerak would become the infrastructure,” explained Kvaerner's Kenneth Simonsen, senior vice-president Strategy and M&A. “The entire scheme applies known technologies but combined in new ways in a new environment,” he added.

DFDS Felixstowe“It could of course be scaled up to serve global trade lanes supplying the world fleet. The vision was to look beyond just ships, noted Wartsila's Andrea Morgante, vice president, Strategy and Business Development. “We realised there was a lot of value to be captured in the logistics chain.”

The fuel hubs would be gravity-based structures in shallow regions and potentially semi-submersible floaters in deeper water, with the bunkering buoys either cemented to the seabed or floating in deep water.

ZEEDS' focus on green ammonia as a viable zero-emission fuel is because it can be used on existing LNG-powered vessels without major modifications. But Margaret Mistry, Strategy & Innovation Manager at Equinor, said the proposal is “fuel agnostic” because multiple energy sources including hydrogen could work. Data calculations show each hub could produce enough ammonia to supply 65 vessels per day.

Chief business process officer Matt Duke of Grieg Star noted: “Knowing what technologies and fuel types will become available in the short to medium term is key for us, so we can utilise them to deliver on our commitment to sustainable shipping in an environmentally and financially productive way. It'll be a problem for our children and grandchildren if we don't address decarbonisation. We have to get cracking.”

DFDS project manager Innovation and Technology Sif Lundsberg concluded: “I don't see black shipping in 2050. We need to change.”

MIAMI: May 07, 2019. Event organiser Messe München has confirmed Miami is the future home of the bi-annual Air Cargo Forum (ACF) on behalf of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), which will continue to provide support with industry expertise.

MIA Convention Center“With the air cargo forum Miami, we are enriching our cluster of topics of international transport logistic and air cargo exhibitions – and our customers will receive more planning certainty and can leverage synergies in our global network,” said Board member Gerhard Gerritzen.

The Messe Munchen expo network includes airfreight events in Munich, Shanghai, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Istanbul and now also Miami.

“We have won an internationally leading trade fair partner with Messe München. Together with the content expertise of TIACA, we are creating a basis for strong development in the future for the air cargo forum Miami,” added Steven Polmans, TIACA vice chairman. “We especially see great potential in a multimodal expansion. Miami is the North American gateway to the whole world, and the ACF is a mandatory date for all those who want to benefit from this international connectivity.”

The next ACF will take place at the Miami Beach Convention Center from November 10 to 12, 2020.

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