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BSR examines “future of fuel”

With global energy consumption set to rise by 40 percent by 2030, shippers need to make smarter decisions about their current energy mix
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
July 19, 2012

As the world transitions to low-carbon alternatives, supply chain managers will continue to depend on fossil fuels for the majority of their energy needs for the foreseeable future, said Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) executives in San Francisco.

But with global energy consumption set to rise by 40 percent by 2030, companies need to make smarter decisions about their current energy mix,” said Eric Olson, BSR’s Senior Vice President.

As reported in Suply Chain Management Review—a sister publication—BSR’s “Clean Cargo Working Group” has been examining similar sustainability issues.

BSR’s Future of Fuels – a new collaborative initiative with leading experts from the private, nonprofit, public, and academic sectors—will, for the first time, give companies the information they need about all of the sustainability impacts of their transportation fuel choices, from climate change to human rights to economic development.

“Our energy system is fundamentally changing, and we must find alternatives to fossil fuels,” Olson said. “At the same time, we need to make better decisions about our current fuel mix. Until now, companies have not had an authoritative resource to consider the full range of sustainability trade-offs associated with their energy decisions.”

Increasingly, energy resources are being tapped from unconventional sources—from the Arctic’s icy frontier to the abundant U.S. shale once thought too difficult to extract—creating more pressing climate, human rights, and other sustainability challenges.

Given these developments, BSR’s Future of Fuels initiative will shed light on some critical issues: How can companies establish an effective, consistent approach to fuel purchasing and use, as questions continue to be raised about new energy sources and technologies? What information is available to help them navigate the shifting landscape and promote the most sustainable long-term outcomes?

Seven companies and organizations – Coca-Cola, Nike, Shell, Suncor, UPS, U.S. Department of Defense, and Walmart – have joined BSR to promote greater dialogue and understanding about fuel choices as we make the long-term energy transition. Experts from leading universities, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations are helping shape the research.

Through this initiative, BSR will publish original research and hold discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders to:

1. Frame the issues: This research brief will draw on existing studies and interviews with third-party experts to explore the state of knowledge about the sustainability impacts of transportation fuels.
2. Outline the options: This research brief will look at how companies can use the information and frameworks described in the first brief to develop better fuel choices.
3. Highlight opportunities for collaboration: BSR’s final research brief will help companies understand how they can work with business partners—from energy and fuel producers to providers and users of transportation and logistics services—to implement more sustainable solutions.

“We won’t solve climate change by pursuing one single solution,” said Olson. “BSR’s goal is to guide business in minimizing the detrimental social and environmental impacts of their energy decisions today, and help them collaborate with government and civil society to ensure a low-carbon future.”

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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