Global Freight, Local Impact: Cleaner Air In Texas Through Partnerships Abroad

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Improving Texas air quality requires a broad coalition. How broad? Well, we know that much of the commerce that is transported through the state either has a foreign origin or destination. Although the delivery takes place in our backyard, many of the crucial decisions that affect that route are made elsewhere. That’s why EDF participated in the 5th Annual Forum on Supply Chain Sustainability in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week.

As the keynote speaker, I provided an overview of EDF’s vision for freight and supply chain sustainability, shared some of our clean air success stories from Houston and presented our “Five Principles for Greener Freight.”  I also met with key stakeholders in the international trade and transportation sector, including the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (ITBA), which is in the midst of developing a study center geared toward sustainable freight strategies. The forum was a tremendous learning opportunity that will enable EDF to strengthen its advocacy at home in Texas by bringing together new partners and applying key lessons from our neighbors.

Many of the challenges Houston and other port cities face in the United States are similar to those in Argentina, such as older, polluting trucks dominating short distance service, lack of sufficient data to make informed sustainability decisions and difficulty in making long-term investments for cleaner, more efficient technology upgrades.

Of course, much is different too. The centralized nature of many Latin American countries is predominant – 90% of freight in Argentina travels through Buenos Aires. Infrastructure challenges in the road and rail network limit the possibilities of route optimization. However, many companies and organizations share a common goal to reduce the environmental footprint of freight transportation. Since the movement of goods is a global activity with local impacts, it is valuable to engage new and diverse groups. This forum was an important first step in establishing a dialogue and developing partnerships that will ultimately lead to cleaner air for Texas.

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