Interview with Andrea Debbané, Global Head of Sustainability, Kuehne+Nagel
Building on effective collaboration to address the urgent need to decarbonise the logistics sector, Kuehne+Nagel will bring the latest innovations and insights from the industry to World Climate Summit 2022. Andrea Debbané, Global Head of Sustainability, Kuehne+Nagel, will speak at Panel Session 2A “Transitioning the Shipping Sector - Opportunities and Challenges for Our Oceans” on 14 November in Sharm el-Sheikh.
In this interview, Andrea Debbané explains what role innovation and technology, as well as collaboration, play in the decarbonisation of the logistics industry, and introduces the innovative seaexplorer platform.
- Andrea, in response to the climate crisis, a lot is riding on the COP27 outcomes, and companies and organisations are pledging to decarbonise their business activities. Can you tell our community about the initiatives that Kuehne+Nagel is engaged in within the decarbonisation space?
The logistics industry contributes to roughly 8% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. As we recognise our responsibility towards our people and planet, we have committed to the Science Based Targets initiative to reduce our absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 33% by 2030 (from a 2019 base year). For our own sphere of influence, we are investing in new technologies and renewable energy to reduce our emissions.
“Our role is to support our customers to decarbonise their supply chains by offering them a menu of solutions adapted to their needs.”
- Andrea Debbané, Global Head of Sustainability, Kuehne+Nagel
As an asset-light company, however, the vast majority of emissions (98.6%) are in our scope 3 – the transportation of our customers’ freight via our suppliers. Our role is to support our customers to decarbonise their supply chains by offering them a menu of solutions adapted to their needs.
- Which are the key barriers in the transition towards maritime decarbonisation, and how does Kuehne+Nagel aim to assist the industry towards this ultimate goal?
Although container shipping is already the least carbon intense mode of transporting goods globally, a wide decarbonisation of the logistics industry is still 10 to 15 years away, due to transformative clean technologies not being available in the market and at scale yet. This is why we invest in next generation biofuels as the most important bridging solution until at least 2030.
We also invest in technology and data to measure emissions in all transport modes and provide our customers with innovative ways to optimise transport operations. However, we need to establish partnerships with vessel owners as well as carriers to access real emission data.
- What role do innovation and technology play in improving the environmental performance of your logistics operations?
At Kuehne+Nagel, we assist our customers in finding the best alternatives for measuring, avoiding or abating the emissions from their transport activities. We provide our customers with a range of digital tools for emission management including emission visibility, reporting and analytics. Customers can get full transparency and visibility of their transport emissions for all transport modes as well as obtain off-the-shelf emission reports and documentation. They can also control and optimise transport operations and choose the most sustainable option for their shipments. For sea freight, Kuehne+Nagel has developed the seaexplorer platform, which provides customers with emission visibility on routes, sophisticated comparative data and carrier options. Customers can also analyse emission data through tools like the CO2 dashboard.
- How are partnerships (with private and public organisations dedicated to promoting sustainability) raising awareness of the need to decarbonise logistics?
Industry-wide partnerships and collaborations are key elements for raising awareness outside of the industry and gaining public support. However, we also need binding international regulations to drive a broader decarbonisation effort and we look forward to the final decision on the EU Emission Trading Scheme as well as the IMO regulation.
- In your view, has the industry been successful in enhancing its environmental performance? What are the lessons learned, and what should be the next steps?
The industry has been successful when it addresses climate change holistically and collectively: common standards, multi-stakeholder dialogue, R&D in new technologies, innovation and collaboration for adapting and scaling existing solutions and technologies. Lessons learned and next steps include continuing to invest in multiple pathways for technology diversity, pilot new technologies and embrace innovation to scale fast, explore new business models and transfer learning and best practices across transport modes and other industry sectors.
- What is your key message to the COP27 and World Climate Summit stakeholders with respect to a more sustainable future?
“The road towards a net zero carbon transport future is long and hard but like a marathon race, it takes commitment, focus and tenacity.”
- Andrea Debbané, Global Head of Sustainability, Kuehne+Nagel
Technology on its own is not enough. Reaching net-zero will require participation, sharing and collaboration. Both the private and public sectors need to participate in lighthouse projects and demonstrators for visibility, innovation and traction. Sharing best practices across sectors is important for continuous improvement. Data sharing is important for establishing accurate baselines and for identifying opportunities for avoidance and reduction. Only through collaboration and partnership will the industry have the courage to work differently, look for breakthrough ideas and design new business models. The road towards a net zero carbon transport future is long and hard but like a marathon race, it takes commitment, focus and tenacity. This is a race that we must win for the planet, for mankind and for a sustainable transport future that continues to provide prosperity and economic trade to all regions of the globe.
With more than 79,000 employees at over 1,300 sites in over 100 countries, the Kuehne+Nagel Group is one of the world's leading logistics providers. It operates in sea logistics, air logistics, road logistics and contract logistics, with a clear focus on integrated logistics solutions.
Learn more: home.kuehne-nagel.com
About the author
Andrea Debbané is a senior executive with extensive international experience and leadership in sustainability, strategy, stakeholder engagement, marketing, and communications. She is SVP and Global Head of Sustainability at Kuehne+Nagel. She is also a non-executive board member of Fairtrade International. Andrea has 17 years of experience in aerospace and aviation, having served as head of Responsibility & Sustainability at Airbus working with the aviation sector, governments, and NGOs on the decarbonisation of the sector. She established and served as Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation, supporting the humanitarian community with emergency response services as well as working with NGOs and social entrepreneurs to support the development and education of young people worldwide. Before joining Airbus, Andrea worked for the Coca-Cola Company in Japan and Asia for ten years and started her career with the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa, Canada in technology policy.