Intermodal Shipping Reduces the Carbon Footprint of Transportation

Posted : 02/28/13 2:38 AM

One of the major concerns for many consumers now is the environmental impact that their choices are having. The energy that is used to transport goods across the globe has come under the spotlight and this has inspired studies into the carbon footprint that various transportation methods create. While some, like air freight, have expectedly high carbon footprints because of the amount of fuel that is used to transport relatively small items, there are also some surprising results being produced by these sorts of studies. One of the most efficient ways to transport goods is to use intermodal freight systems. These transport networks have been designed specifically to make transporting bulk goods more efficient but they are also beginning to show that this efficiency is also translating into a smaller carbon footprint. A recent study conducted in Seattle compared the carbon footprint of using an express intermodal service to transport freight with the footprint that is created by shipping the same products by other forms of transport. The study found that using intermodal options between Seattle and Chicago reduced the carbon footprint by as much as 52% of that which is produced by sending the same freight over roads by truck1. At the same time, this study has confirmed and, to a degree, validated the methods being used at the present time to measure the carbon emissions used to transport specific amounts of cargo. There are now some very accurate estimators for calculating the carbon footprint of various methods of transporting freight that allow users to make informed choices about the best way to transport their goods. While the carbon emissions that are produced in the transportation of goods aren’t the only deciding factor in the transport method that is best suited to everyone’s needs, it has become an important factor in the decision making process. With many places in the world charging a levee on carbon now, just having a way to accurately estimate the carbon footprint of transportation will become more important. At the same time, the charges that carbon will attract into the future are going to make choosing the most energy efficient mode of transport vital to the economics of shipping goods around the world. The good news is that the speed and efficiency of intermodal transport systems is more often than not also the one that is having the smallest impact on the environment. References: