“New Research Reveals Alarming Environmental Impact of Rapidly Growing E-commerce Sector in India”
A recent research report by the global Clean Mobility Collective (CMC) and Stand earth Research Group (SRG) has revealed that the Indian e-commerce market is poised for significant growth in the coming years. According to the report titled “Cost of Convenience: Revealing the hidden climate and health impacts of the global e-commerce-driven parcel delivery industry through 2030,” parcel deliveries in India are expected to surge from the current level of 4 billion (400 crore) parcels per year to a staggering 40 billion (4,000 crores) parcels per year by 2030.
This tenfold increase in parcel deliveries is projected to have a substantial impact on carbon emissions. The report estimates that the total annual emissions from the Indian e-commerce sector will reach 8 million (80 lakhs) tons of CO2 by 2030. To put this into perspective, these emissions are equivalent to the emissions produced by 1.615 million (16.5 lakhs) petrol cars driven for a year or the emissions from 20 gas-fired power plants in a year.
The global e-commerce market is also anticipated to experience significant growth, with parcel deliveries projected to more than double from 315 billion (31,500 crores) parcels delivered in 2022 to a staggering 800 billion (80,000 crores) parcels delivered annually by 2030. Consequently, the report highlights that these increased deliveries will contribute to a total emission of 160 million (16 crores) tons of CO2 in 2030, which is equivalent to the emissions from 400 gas-fired power plants.
The transportation sector, already a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally, is expected to witness exponential emission growth by 2030. The report predicts that global annual e-commerce emissions related to last-mile delivery alone could rise to as high as 160,000 tons of CO2 per year by 2030.
One of the key findings of the report is that addressing the emissions from the last-mile delivery sector is a significant challenge. To sequester the emissions from the last-mile delivery sector in 2022 alone, over one billion (100 crores) trees would need to be planted every year, allowing them to grow for a decade.
Siddharth Sreenivas, India Coordinator for the Clean Mobility Collective, emphasized the need for urgent action to decarbonize the e-commerce sector. Sreenivas stated, “With e-commerce growing exponentially over the coming years, the industry needs to address its ballooning emission footprint. Decarbonizing the sector is not only economically viable and saves India significantly massive expenditure on import but has co-benefits of reducing and avoiding emissions and air pollution as well.”
The report also sheds light on the environmental commitments of major international and domestic players in the Indian logistics market, including Amazon, Flipkart, and DHL. It reveals that, in a business-as-usual scenario from 2023 to 2030, these companies will collectively contribute an additional 17 million tons of CO2 emissions.
Notably, the report highlights a lack of strong commitments by most companies globally to reduce their emissions by 2030. However, it recognizes home-grown Indian brand Flipkart, currently operating as a subsidiary of Walmart, for its commitments that go beyond Walmart’s timeline of achieving zero emissions by 2040.
On the other hand, Amazon, the global market leader in e-commerce, is criticized for its insufficient commitments towards achieving zero-emission deliveries by 2030. The report also highlights Amazon’s lack of transparency regarding its emissions data, including fleet sizes and subcontractor information.
Dr. Devyani Singh, an investigative researcher from the Stand.earth Research Group, stressed the urgency of the situation. Singh stated, “Unabated growth of last-mile delivery will have significant climate and health impacts if e-commerce companies fail to act at scale before 2030. Amazon, in particular — the sector’s global leader — knows this is a problem and, in turn, has announced net zero 2040 plans. Based on this new research, not only are Amazon’s plans too weak and a decade too late, the company discloses far less information on last-mile delivery than its e-commerce peers about its progress.”
The report also highlights the health and air pollution impacts of e-commerce deliveries worldwide. Without any changes in fleet makeup, e-commerce companies’ last-mile emissions are projected to contribute significantly to health impacts over the next eight years from 2023 to 2030.
Avijit Michael, Managing Trustee & Executive Director of Jhatkaa.org, emphasized the need for e-commerce companies to commit to zero-emission deliveries. Michael said, “Emissions affect our health and our children’s health. There is a clear and urgent need for e-commerce companies to come clean about their emissions – and to commit to clear, time-bound plans to move to 100% zero-emissions deliveries by 2030. We call on Amazon globally to commit to zero-emission deliveries because, as the sector leader, Amazon should be taking the lead in moving the entire delivery industry toward a pollution-free future.”
The report’s findings serve as a wake-up call for governments, policymakers, and companies to take urgent action to address the growing emissions and environmental impact of the e-commerce-driven parcel delivery industry.
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