Carbon emissions are shocking when ordering online

    Have you ever thought about your Amazon delivery in terms of carbon emissions? If you haven’t, then this article is a must read for you, as we have looked at your parcel’s CO2 footprint and far beyond. 

    Transport emissions within the European Union are responsible for roughly 30% of total CO2 emissions; road transport accounts for nearly 70% of that. While other sectors have been cutting emissions in recent years, the transport sector has actually increased its emissions, not only because people are becoming more mobile, but because of the ever-increasing shipment of goods. 

    With online sales skyrocketing during the pandemic, delivery services are on the rise, too.  It was 1994 that marked the first online purchase and today, more than 2 billion people use online shopping. Roughly 75% of that total shop online at least once a month. In the UK, Royal Mail delivers 1.8 billion parcels every year, an average of more than 26 parcels per person, or one delivery every 2 weeks. 

    Amazon pledged to deliver 50% of its shipments with net-zero carbon by 2030. However, Amazon’s carbon emissions rose by 15% in 2019. We already know that aviation is amongst the fastest growing carbon emitters, and Amazon is contributing to that. In the first half year of 2020, the company operated 38% more flights in the U.S. compared to the previous year. 

    With maritime emissions accounting for roughly 3.5% of global emissions and on the rise, they could increase by as much as 250% by 2050, putting the Paris Agreement under great danger. Additionally, air transport accounts for another 2% of global emissions. If we now include trucks and so-called ‘last mile’ delivery, another 8% is added, leaving the delivery transport sector contributing 14% of global emissions. With the transport sector facing some of the biggest challenges for decarbonization whilst also experiencing some of the fastest growth rates, it seems doubtful that the overall share of global emissions from transportation will decrease any time soon. 

    With deliveries of roughly 2.5 billion packages in FY 2019, Amazon emitted a whopping 57.14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. To put this in perspective, the entire country of Austria emitted 61.2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2019. Dividing the emitted CO2 by the number of packages delivered, we arrive a footprint on the order of 0.023 metric tons of CO2 per delivered parcel. That is the equivalent of the following: 

    carbon emissions equivalents

    Worth noting is how long it takes for the carbon emissions to be sequestered by our natural environment. Ordering 5 parcels a year from Amazon requires 2 trees to grow for 10 years to eventually reach net-zero again. We were shocked by this result. 

    How many trees does it require to offset your 2019 deliveries? 

    We have calculated these equivalences by using a Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. Once you know how much a certain activity emits, you can enter this into the calculator and find interesting equivalencies for the emitted substances. 

    We want you to think about whether your delivery of shampoo, clothes, or even food is worth the carbon footprint that that results. Before clicking “buy” and finalizing your online purchase, consider buying the same products from your local store, then walk or cycle to pick them up. You’ll help a local business, stay in good physical shape and help reduce the transport carbon footprint improving the environment for all of us.

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