The International Forum on “Green Logistics. Ideas. Practice. Prospects” was held in Helsinki on 14 November 2014. The aims of the event were to share experience with foreign colleagues, jointly search for possible ways to develop green technologies in Russia, and attract a broad public interest to this theme. The organiser of the Forum was the RZD-Partner business magazine (www.rzd-partner.ru).
Participants discussed strategies of green growth, the use of regulation mechanisms and market instruments for environment protection, and competitive advantages provided by green logistics to Russian companies on the international market.
Speaking at the forum, Victor Stepov, Vice President of RZD, said that new approaches to organising logistics services, based on meeting environmental standards, are urgent today, and the holding company intends to use them.
“In the EU, transport environmental issues are solved in accordance with the strategic document – the “White Paper”. We will also implement the Environmental Strategy of RZD JSC until 2017 and until 2030”, said V. Stepov.
Plans of the transporter are confirmed by the figures: investment in environmental protection exceeded 17 billion rubles in the last three years. From the beginning of 2011 to 2014, emissions of harmful substances from stationary sources into the air reduced by 18%; discharges of insufficiently treated sewage decreased by 13%; the use of waste in production processes and its neutralisation on the company’s own sites increased by 51% . Technical modernisation of the infrastructure, modernization of rolling stock, use of energy-efficient train schedules, development of paperless document circulation technologies are components of RZD’s large-scale environmental policy.
The company implements innovations focused on respect for nature. So, noise reduction systems operate on a number of marshalling yards, noise barriers and joint bars are installed on certain sections of the infrastructure; devices for renewal of solar and wind energy, and recycled polymeric materials are also used. In addition, RZD is one of the first companies in Europe that uses loudspeakers to scare away animals without violating their natural migration path. “Now we are working for the future, but when high environmental requirements are common to various industries in the country, we will be fully prepared for it,” emphasized V. Stepov.
VR Group’s Senior Vice President Rolf Jansson believes that green services have become one of the basic principles of business development today. In his words, global changes in the environment are a serious challenge for the transport community, and one which the railways must address. “This issue should be considered in the long term, even during a recession, when business development is complicated, and companies pay more attention to the economic aspect of their activity,” he emphasised. Finnish Railways have made their choice, and the green brand adopted in 2010 reflects the priorities of the company. “If environmental services are a serious argument for customers, it gives us an advantage,” said Otto Lehtipuu, Senior Vice President for Public Relations and Environment of VR Group.
Representatives of Russian companies realise that eco-friendly services mean a great deal to foreign customers. “We hope that Russian shippers will also begin to think about it soon,” said Pavel Sokolov, General Director of Russian Railways Logistics JSC. In his opinion, business reorientation towards green logistics is inevitable. The portfolio of developments of Russian Railways Logistics contains a significant number of solutions implemented in this area. Practice shows that, for example, excluding locomotives from logistics schemes or their replacement by locomobiles can significantly reduce harmful emissions.
Representatives of other transport modes are also concerned with issues of environmental services. The Head of Cargo Services Department at the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Natalia Pirozhenko said that airlines, members of the association, decided to freeze the level of harmful emissions by 2020, and to reduce it by 50% by 2050 by means of modern technologies. Regulatory solutions appeared in the field of maritime transport: in particular, from 1 January 2015 the maximum level of sulphur in marine fuel will be significantly limited in sulphur emission control areas (SECA), which include the Baltic and the North Sea. There is also the practice of implementing environmentally-friendly infrastructure projects, for example, the Nord Stream gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea.
“At the investment stage, banks and the authorities of different countries submitted hundreds of requirements that we had to fulfil, despite the fact that they sometimes contradicted each other,” said Bruno Haelg, Nord Stream Environmental Management Officer.
Summing up the results of the forum, Miklos Kopp, Head of the Freight Department at the International Union of Railways (UIC), emphasised that the significance of green logistics is undeniable today, the only question is how to turn it into a successful business philosophy. According to him, this problem can be solved with the help of the railways. Therefore, the transfer of the lion’s share of cargo flows to the railways may become the main trend in the development of transport systems of the EU and Russia in the coming years.