myclimate Position Paper on Transport and Logistics Issues

Calculating CO2e emissions in the transport sector



When it comes to assessing the carbon footprints of companies and products, transport is a significant factor. As with any life-cycle assessment, the choice of system boundaries has a considerable influence on the results.

Various approaches have been developed to calculate transport emissions in recent years, some of which have differed significantly in terms of system boundaries and, therefore, results. In myclimate’s view, there are weaknesses inherent in widely used standards like the GLEC framework, DIN 16258 and ISO 14083 in particular when it comes to completeness in terms of environmental science.


The issue:
Comparability of results is not guaranteed when different system boundaries have been selected. With emission values increasingly being used as a criterion in awarding contracts (e.g. tenders), there is a risk that a provider with an ecologically equivalent (or even superior) vehicle fleet appears less environmentally friendly if it selects more comprehensive system boundaries for calculating emissions. Such a competitive disadvantage is patently unacceptable.

Objective of the document:
The objective of this document is, therefore, to compare the various calculation approaches to ensure clarity regarding their respective strengths and weaknesses.

As myclimate sees it, understanding the differences in calculations is a prerequisite for an informed discussion of suitable system boundaries and the comparability of results.


Content of the document:

  • This document outlines the different approaches to calculating CO2e1 emissions in the transport sector.
  • It describes myclimate’s transparent approach to sharing information with logistics clients on the different ways to select system boundaries.

1 The indicator used is the global warming potential over a period of 100 years according to (IPCC, 2021), expressed as CO2 equivalents (CO2e). The seven relevant greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride. The various greenhouse gases contribute to global warming in different ways, which is why they are calculated as CO2 equivalents (CO2e).



  • Large companies usually engage logistics providers to handle and ensure the transport of their goods. As transport activities come under the responsibility of the client company, the greenhouse gas emissions generated must be calculated as part of its carbon footprint (in accordance with the GHG Protocol and other international standards).
  • The pressure to report and determine a greenhouse gas footprint is constantly increasing, driven by standards, norms and guidelines.
  • In recent years, standards like the GLEC framework have emerged that describe how the CO2e emissions of transport fleets should be calculated.
  • Often, these calculation principles are not compatible with the analysis methodology used in life-cycle assessment (ISO 14044/ISO 14083).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions calculated using the life-cycle assessment method are, on average, approx. 18–25% higher than those calculated using the GLEC framework.


Calculation methods:

  • In recent years, it has become apparent that logistics companies that are required to report their greenhouse gas emissions often use (or stipulate the use of) the GLEC framework or the DIN 16258/ISO 14803 standards to calculate their emissions.
    • GLEC (Global Logistics Emissions Council): considers all WTW (well-to-wheel) emissions, BUT NOT emissions generated during production, maintenance/servicing and disposal of vehicles and their infrastructure (see ANNEX 1).
    • DIN Standard 16258: Same system boundaries as GLEC (see ANNEX 2).
    • ISO 14083: replaces DIN Standard 16258, with the same system boundaries as GLEC (see ANNEX 3)
  • myclimate adheres to the system boundaries of ISO standards for life-cycle assessments (ISO 14040/ISO 14044), which apply a life-cycle approach: In other words, all emissions throughout the entire life cycle of a transport activity are considered, including, proportionally, the manufacturing and disposal of the transport vehicle, maintenance and road infrastructure (see, for example, the ecoinvent database or Mobitool calculation methods). Simply put, this approach strictly follows the question of which emissions are generated in order to accomplish a specific transport activity.


myclimate approach for transport companies:

  • When speaking to clients, myclimate is careful always to highlight the various current approaches to calculating greenhouse gas emissions from transport and to clearly outline the differences between them.
  • myclimate can perform calculations according to GLEC, DIN 16258 or ISO 14083. The standard used for the calculation is explicitly stated. In practice, this means that:
    • the system boundaries or calculation bases underlying the results are clearly and explicitly declared on the CO2e footprint calculated by myclimate, as well as on the transport/logistics provider’s website and any other communication channels it uses
    • as the myclimate “Engaged for Impact” label indicates that emissions have been comprehensively calculated and a corresponding contribution to climate protection has been made, it can only be issued to companies that consider the entire life cycle as a system boundary (including vehicle and infrastructure components).
  • If a customer only has GLEC/DIN 16258/ISO 14083 calculations but wishes to make a voluntary climate contribution with myclimate equivalent to the transport emissions of its fleet/business, a supplement of 18–25 per cent is added to these values, depending on the type of transport.
  • Calculating the greenhouse gas emissions of goods transported by plane requires a special type of analysis. For air transport, the scientific community believes the RFI (Radiative Forcing Index) should be used, which takes account of the climate warming caused by non-CO2 emissions2 in the upper atmosphere. This RFI is not included in calculations performed according to GLEC, DIN 16258 or ISO 14083 (see ANNEXES 1 and 2), but is always applied by myclimate.


    2Based on current information, contrails and the resulting formation of high, thin (cirrus) clouds have the most impact on the climate of non-CO2 emissions – considerably greater than the effect of CO2. [Neu U (2021) Die Auswirkungen der Flugverkehrsemissionen auf das Klima. (The climate effects of aviation emissions.) Swiss Academies Communications 16(3).]


We would be happy to advise you on your specific transport issues and the most appropriate approach for calculating your emissions.
Martin Lehmann:
Christian Lehmann:

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