Pledge co-hosts COP28 table to accelerate change

Around 80,000 [!] people have registered for the COP28 in Dubai, which began on 30NOV23 and runs through to 12DEC23. This will make it the largest COP summit yet in a host state that also happens to be one of the world’s top 10 fossil fuel exporters. However, leaving the recent controversy uncovered by independent journalists at the Centre for Climate Reporting aside, this COP28, attended by almost 200 heads of state, will be the first one to undergo a “Global Stocktake”, and take a serious look at how far the world has come in tackling the climate crisis and how much of a course correction is needed.

Encouraging industry discussion – Pledge Co-Founder David de Picciotto – Image: Pledge

It will also be the first time that climate tech specialist, Pledge, will co-host a round table with Smart Freight Centre (an international non-profit organisation focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation), inviting shippers, freight forwarders, and carriers to share best practices and exchange ideas that can help accelerate the pace of decarbonisation in the industry. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked David de Picciotto (DdP), CEO and Co-Founder, of Pledge, to expand.

The OECD has predicted that global logistics emissions are set to increase 42% by 2050 – the same year the Paris Agreement has tasked the EU to achieve net zero carbon. If we’re going to meet this challenging goal, the industry needs to come together and collaborate.” – David de Picciotto, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Co-founder, Pledge.

CFG: I believe this is the first time that Pledge and Smart Freight Centre are hosting a table at COP28 on 06DEC23. What motivated the idea?

DdP: Indeed, this marks the first collaboration between Pledge and the Smart Freight Centre (SFC) in hosting a table at this prestigious event.

The motivation behind this initiative is rooted in our commitment to driving impactful change in the freight industry’s sustainability landscape. COP28 provides an opportune platform, bringing together public and private sector players to engage in meaningful discussions and collaborative efforts aimed at decarbonising logistics supply chains.

CFG: And how did the Pledge / Smart Freight Centre partnership come about? Have you collaborated before?

DdP: This collaboration between Pledge and the Smart Freight Centre (SFC) has evolved through a shared commitment to advancing sustainability in the logistics and freight industry. It initially stems from Pledge’s accreditation as a vendor adhering to the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) framework, promoted by the SFC. This framework has formed the basis of the recently published ISO 14083, a standard for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions arising from transport chain operations.

The GLEC framework is a cornerstone in the industry’s efforts to standardise and enhance the measurement and reporting of logistics emissions. Pledge’s commitment to and compliance with this framework aligns seamlessly with the SFC’s mission to drive sustainable practices in global freight and logistics.

While this marks our first joint initiative in co-hosting an Executive Roundtable at COP28, our collaboration extends beyond this event. As an accredited vendor, Pledge has actively engaged with the SFC, contributing to the ongoing dialogue and efforts to promote sustainable practices within the industry.

CFG: How do you feel air cargo was positioned in previous COPs until now?

DdP: In previous COPs, the positioning of air cargo in the sustainability discourse has grown increasingly prominent, with a notable emphasis on addressing the environmental impact of aviation. The industry has recognised the imperative to navigate towards a more sustainable future, acknowledging its role in global emissions.

One significant aspect that has gained traction is the discussion around sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and book & claim mechanisms to account for its use and reporting. Sustainable aviation fuel has emerged as a pivotal component in the industry’s commitment to mitigating its environmental footprint.

As the demand for air travel and cargo services continues to rise, SAF presents a tangible solution to reduce carbon emissions. Industry stakeholders, including carriers, are increasingly investing in, and exploring the integration of sustainable aviation fuels into their operations, both for freight and passenger transport. This shift signifies a collective commitment to fostering a more sustainable and environmentally responsible air cargo sector.

CFG: What will your main topics be for the table?

DdP: By bringing together key stakeholders, including industry leaders, policymakers, and experts, we aim to foster a dynamic dialogue focused on pressing topics such as data-driven sustainability, emission calculation methodologies, and the path forward for the decarbonisation of the industry. Our goal is to create a space where participants can share experiences, discuss challenges, and explore innovative solutions that contribute to a more sustainable future.

CFG: What do you hope will be the outcomes of the COP28?

DdP: From a business perspective, I hope to see elevated commitments from nations and industry stakeholders to prioritise sustainable practices that impact the freight sector, acknowledging its significant role in global emissions, particularly as freight is set to become the highest emitting sector by 2050 (20% of global emissions) – source:,highest%20emitting%20sector%20by%202050.

Additionally, I hope to see advocacy for policy advancements that specifically address the fossil fuel transition, incentivise climate action, support the adoption of innovative solutions, and foster the development of technologies and practices that reduce environmental impact in the freight industry.

CFG: Where do you see the biggest challenges for the air cargo industry with regard to Sustainable Development Goals?

DdP: Identifying and addressing challenges is crucial for the air cargo industry to align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mitigating carbon emissions remains a significant challenge, as achieving ambitious reduction targets while meeting the increasing demand for air cargo services will require innovative solutions over time. While innovations including alternative fuels as well as electric and hybrid aircraft pose challenges in terms of feasibility, scalability, and infrastructure development, it will be interesting to monitor their developments over the years.

CFG: Standardising data collection methods for emissions reporting is pivotal and indispensable. This not only ensures accuracy but also fosters alignment with Sustainable Development Goals across diverse industries, contributing to a unified and transparent approach to sustainability efforts.

DdP: Establishing consistent metrics and methodologies industry-wide is challenging but crucial for meaningful progress. This will necessitate collaboration across borders, aligning diverse stakeholders, including governments, carriers, and logistics providers.

Note that these points touch mostly on the environmental SDGs; besides these, the air cargo industry is also impacting social SDGs amongst others.

CFG: Smart Freight Centre does not seem quite so well-known in the air cargo industry – is this because it is mostly focused on road and sea? What are air cargo initiatives that we could highlight, or where we could encourage more involvement?

DdP: The GLEC framework does cover air as a mode of transport. Additionally, see the latest initiative:

CFG: What will Pledge and SFC be doing with the outcomes of the discussions at the table?

DdP: You’ll see soon enough! [Smiles]

Intriguiging. Thank you, David de Picciotto.

One outcome already, is Pledge’s latest data solution: Developed in accordance with Smart Freight Centre (SFC) guidance and launched on 30NOV23, its Accuracy™ feature furnishes forwarders with accurate Data Quality Indicator (DQI) emissions levels that they can share with shippers, so that these can make informed emissions-based supply chain decisions.

André Mohamed, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Pledge, explained: “Shippers are looking for freight partners who can offer transparent and actionable insights into their supply chain emissions, and it’s becoming increasingly common for shippers to compare forwarders based on their ability to provide quality sustainability data when putting business up for tender. We’re the first accredited vendor to include a feature that helps forwarders and their clients understand the quality of their supply chain emissions calculations by providing SFC DQI levels for every multimodal end-to-end shipment.”



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