According to the recent United in Science 2021 report, COVID-19 has not slowed the relentless advance of climate change.The report, which was complied by a group of leading organizations, including the UN Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, highlighted that despite a dip in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere remain at record levels.
COVID-19 did, however, highlight the impact transportation is having on our environment and air quality. According to the International Energy Agency, average activity on the world’s roads fell by almost 50% in 2020 compared with 2019. Urban areas around the world were recording massive reductions in a range of pollutants associated with internal combustion engines. For postal operators, the global pandemic has put a renewed and strengthened focus on climate action.
As more and more countries went into lockdown, posts were hit with big delays in cross-border delivery as flights were grounded. Meanwhile, they saw parcel volumes and home delivery numbers soar.
To try and tackle cross-border delivery issues, the UPU worked with several posts to better utilize the rail network. The UPU-Rail Forum worked with China Post, Lithuania Post, Polish Post, and various railway operators to set up mail-only block trains from China to Lithuania and to Poland to clear the huge backlog of mail destined for Europe. The other clear benefit of this project is that trains are significantly more environmentally friendly than planes. To illustrate this point, a journey from London to Madrid would emit 43 kg of CO2 per passenger by train, but 118 kg by plane, according to energy comparison tool EcoPassenger. The UPU-Rail Forum continues to look at ways to move air freight to rail to reduce the impact cross-border deliveries are having on our environment. This is just one example of how the postal sector is looking to build back better following the pandemic.
The UPU will be highlighting other examples at its upcoming World Leaders Forum on October 11. The theme will be ‘One Ocean – Many Currents’ and it will address sustainable global trade through in-depth discussions.
In the ‘Leaders’ perspectives from around the world’ session, which will be held between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., attendees will hear from posts leading the change toward greener deliveries, including Singapore Post’s Group CEO Mr. Vincent Phang, New Zealand Post’s CEO Mr. David Walsh, Post Fiji’s CEO Mr. Anirudha Bansod, and Correos de Mexico’s Director General Ms. Rocío Bárcena. Singapore Post, for example, is the first postal service in Asia-Pacific to commit to a 100% electric delivery fleet. It aims to go green with fully electric scooters and vans by 2026.
*The World Leaders Forum is a virtual event, held on Zoom and live streamed on UPU TV. It is free to attend. Register here