Freight transportation is a vital element for attaining sustainable development. Inefficient movement of goods does not only impend economic growth, but also results in various externalities such as air pollutants, greenhouse gas (GHG) and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). The global growth in freight volumes and emissions are expected to be driven by developing economies, particularly those in Asia, which are estimated to account for more than 50% of global surface freight transport in 2050.
The movement of goods has been and is still a rapidly growing contributor to GHGs, traditional air pollutant emissions, and SLCPs such as black carbon (BC). Heavy-duty vehicles, for example, have been projected to be the largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the transportation sector by 2035. BC or soot is a key component of particulate matter (PM) and has been implicated as a significant climate forcer and a dangerous air pollutant with multiple impacts on the public’s health.
This study, ‘Advancing Green Freight in Bangladesh: A Background Paper’ has been developed by Clean Air Asia with the support of the Climate an Clean Air Coalition, to contribute to the knowledge on the state and issues related to the freight sector in Bangladesh and more importantly, to provide insights on the opportunities for advancing green freight in the country. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has set up various initiatives to reduce short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) from numerous sources such as agriculture, cook stoves, bricks, diesel, among others. The coalition consists of country governments, private sector, NGOs and development agencies as signatories working towards the objective. One of the key areas of focus for the CCAC is the reduction of black carbon emissions and GHGs from heavy duty diesel engines. Under this initiative, the Global Green Freight Action Plan aims to guide the development of green freight programs around the world that build on the experience of successful programs already in operation. Such programs can contribute towards significant energy efficiency improvements and reduction of SLCPs such as black carbon emission from the freight sector. Bangladesh is one of the founding state partners of the CCAC and is also an endorser of the Global Green Freight Action Plan.
Freight growth in Bangladesh is outpacing its economic growth. In a business as usual scenario the freight motorization levels and activity levels are only set to increase rapidly even with a small increase in GDP, impacting emissions and health significantly. Higher allocation towards road development has led to almost 65% of ton-km being transported by trucks while lower emission modes such as inland waterway and rail have not developed despite being prominent a few decades ago.
Overloading, poor access to technology, market fragmentation, low awareness on green freight solutions has led to high level of inefficiencies in the country. Lack of systematic data capture, inefficient inspection and maintenance, and enforcement further compound the issues. Potential solutions have been proposed based on best practices and discussions with stakeholders. Demonstrations to showcase the feasibility of the solutions is essential to build confidence amongst users. The development of a national green freight program to bring together multiple stakeholders on a platform for greater collaboration is essential in order to accelerate the take up of technologies and practices that lead to increased efficiencies and lowered externalities. Majority of the freight movement takes place between Dhaka and Chittagong, the port city, which provides an opportunity to carry out various interventions. It has been proposed to develop this route as a green corridor for testing vehicle technologies. The development of an online freight brokerage platform for improved data flow is also discussed. Urban freight schemes have also been discussed as a third of the particulate matter is emitted by freight vehicles in urban areas such as Dhaka, exposing the dense population to serious health consequences.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) is a voluntary global partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, business, scientific institutions and civil society committed to catalysing concrete, substantial action to reduce SLCPs (including methane, black carbon and many hydrofluorocarbons). The Coalition works through collaborative initiatives to raise awareness, mobilize resources, and lead transformative actions in key emitting sectors.
Advancing Green Freight in Bangladesh