The SMMS builds on the Environmental Monitoring and Measurement System (EMMS) which has tracked and driven progress in the postal sector’s carbon management since 2008. Our participants have shown tremendous progress in that time. The original EMMS targets were set in 2009 following a pilot in 2008, with 20 participants collectively setting ambitious targets to be achieved by 2020, compared to the 2008 baseline:
- To reduce combined carbon emissions from own operations by 20% – achieved in 2014
- To achieve a score of at least 90% in carbon management proficiency – achieved in 2018
Following the early achievement of the first target, a new target was introduced in 2014:
- To achieve a 20% reduction in Scope 1, 2 and 3 (from own operations and outsourced transport) carbon emissions per letter mail and per parcel by 2025, from a 2013 baseline year.
This target was approved by the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTI) in 2016 (one of the first 12 globally) indicating that the level of decarbonisation required to achieve it is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. As of 2023, 15 posts now have individually committed to a Science Based Target.
Reflecting the importance of this issue to our sector, climate change continues to be a key focus of the SMMS programme as we look towards our 2030 goals.
Given the size of the participant’s collective fleets, reducing the environmental impact of the group’s vehicles will be a continued focus going forward. It is estimated that the global electric vehicle market will grow 25-30% by the end of the decade years, and as discussed in the Resource Efficiency section, our participants continue to be innovative in this area.
As the impacts of Climate Change such as the natural disasters experienced in 2022 - 2023 continue to increase and impact businesses our engagement with suppliers on ways to reduce carbon emissions will continue to be critical in order to decrease Scope 3 emissions, which contribute the majority of the group’s total carbon emissions (66% of Scope 1, 2 and 3). Posts have shown a commitment to mitigating the impact of the value chain through a variety of initiatives, with examples found in our case study library.
- Climate Change was the highest scoring Focus Area out of the seven in the Sustainability Management Proficiency (SMP) questionnaire, reflecting the group’s continued dedication to this issue.
- Posts scored 75.3% collectively for Climate Change, nearly ten percentage points ahead of the group’s Overall SMP Score and three percentage points ahead of the second highest Focus Area score (H&S).
- The group scored highest in questions related to Measurement and Evaluation just as in 2021, reflecting the group’s focus on rigorous data collection. The group also scored well in the Strategy and Policy pillar, a crucial element of effective climate change risk management.
- The Embedding pillar score saw a slight decrease compared to 2021. This was caused by the group absorbing two new posts onto the SMMS programme. We hope to see this area improve in the coming years as the pool of knowledge continues to expand.
Highlights of the group’s performance in 2022 include:
- All 23 posts have a strategic focus on greenhouse gas emissions
- 18 posts have a dedicated policy in place that includes a commitment to performance improvement and a framework for achieving objectives
- 16 posts have a mid-term or long-term target related to climate change, and 16 posts have an annual target
- 22 participants define responsibility for climate change at the board or executive level of their organisation
- 22 posts have discussed current and/or future climate change strategies with their supplier groups.
We encourage posts to continue developing their approaches to Climate Change management, including participating in initiatives to build resilience to climate change within their own organisations and in the wider community, through employee education and outreach programmes.
Scope 1 and 2 emissions
In 2020, we set a new 2030 target for absolute carbon emissions – to reduce collective scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% compared to a 2019 baseline. In 2022, posts reported a 6.8% decrease in emissions compared to 2019. This equates to more than 400,000 tonnes of CO2.
NB: All figures rounded to nearest thousand
In 2022, posts reported a 35% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions compared to a 2008 baseline. Since 2008, the group’s cumulative reduction in emissions now equals 28.8 million tonnes CO2.
NB: All figures rounded to two significant figures
*Delivery efficiency for 2013 to 2021 was restated following Pos Malaysia and Omniva joining the SMMS programme. Please see Restatements section for more details.
In 2022, the group reported a delivery efficiency of 40.4g CO2 per letter mail item and 536.8g per parcel item. This was a 6.7% increase in grams CO2 per item for letter mail and a 11.7% increase for parcels, compared to 2021. Since the 2013 baseline, this equates to an increase of 13.6% for letter mail, but a decrease of 0.6% for parcels.
Posts face a significant challenge in reducing the carbon intensity of letter mail deliveries in an environment of falling letter mail demand. With the growth in parcel demand showing no signs of abating, we expect to see the inverse trend for parcel delivery efficiency.
These trends have been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to continue. We observed a reduction in scope 3 emissions from business travel and employee commuting due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However these were outweighed by rising emissions from the spike in parcel demand over the period. From 2020 to 2022, as travel restrictions were lifted and employees returned to offices, we observed a 18% increase in scope 3 emissions from business travel and employee commuting.
Advancements in reducing emissions from outsourced road and air transport will need to match and indeed exceed the progress made in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions in order to lessen the carbon intensity of deliveries. IPC’s commitment can be shown in our Case Studies, these cover a multitude of initiatives and ambitious goal setting. All of which strive to improving the sustainability of the sector and creating a network of knowledge.
Building on this success, a significant focus of the programme is to support the sector’s efforts at decarbonising the transport. IPC recognises that there is no silver bullet. In the short term, the industry will continue to draw on a host of different alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) solutions - of the total SMMS fleet, the proportion of AFVs increased from 12.4% in 2012 to 25.9% in 2022. Innovative programmes and battery developments have put electric vehicles firmly in the driving seat in the near term, with EVs representing 20% of the SMMS fleet in 2022 (127,000 EVs in a fleet of 637,000 vehicles). In addition, further in the future we expect hydrogen to increasingly realise its potential as an alternative. Therefore, as we see the increasing penetration of low carbon transport in the sector, we expect the climate impact of these deliveries to continue to decline in the future.