Fleet News

MoD targets fleet emissions with tree-planting scheme

Almost 11,000 trees are to be planted in Scotland in a bid to offset a proportion of the carbon emissions from the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) non-combat vehicle fleet.

The carbon offsetting initiative took shape late last year and became a reality when the first saplings were recently planted at a ceremony celebrating the start of five small woodlands across 22 acres north of Dundee that will ultimately contain 10,800 trees.

Eight suppliers backed the scheme and have pledged £13,823 to finance the planting and protection of the trees.

Participating suppliers are: Ford, Hertz, LeasePlan/Automotive Leasing, Thrifty, 3C’s Logistics, Nationwide Windscreen Services, Procters Coaches and Beeline Coaches.

The MoD has partnered with Forest Carbon on the new initiative. It is assured by the Government’s Woodland Carbon Code, meaning the right trees are planted, they are managed properly, are legally protected and the CO2 the trees capture has been accurately assessed.

Forest Carbon has planted four million new trees in the past nine years, balancing more than 900,000 tonnes of partners’ CO2 emissions. Among them is environmental consultant Redhills, which claims to have offset the 2014 CO2 emissions of its entire 170-vehicle fleet thanks to its scheme.

Stephen Prior, director of Forest Carbon, said: “Carbon offsetting is of growing interest to fleets. It does not matter how efficient their vehicles are, they still have a residual carbon footprint. Businesses can minimise car travel, but they cannot get rid of the carbon footprint.

“Carbon off-setting highlights responsibility and it is easy for businesses to show they are good citizens.”

The Woodland Carbon Code is the only UK-based carbon mitigation mechanism backed by the Government in its greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting rules for companies.

GHG reporting was introduced two years ago and requires quoted companies and some public bodies to report their emissions with an action plan to reduce their environmental footprint, which can include carbon offsetting.

Since August 2011, the MoD’s leased fleet of 14,000-15,000 vehicles – the number varies according to demand – and an average 29,000 spot hires a month has been managed by Babcock International on a four-year contract with a one-year extension option, which has now been exercised.

The MoD’s non-combat fleet contract is known as Project Phoenix. The Phoenix Carbon Reduction Initiative was the brainchild of supply chain manager Shaun Moore.

Conscious of Babcock International’s environmental responsibilities, and the impact fleet activities have on the UK’s environment, Moore began to research what could be done to offset some of the carbon footprint created by the MoD’s vehicles and work towards a more environmentally focused contract, in December 2014.

He told Fleet News: “I was keen to introduce a scheme that added value to the fleet contract with no additional cost.

“Vehicles are an operational requirement for the MoD, but the organisation also has green aspirations.

“The more I researched carbon offsetting, the more I thought it was a very worthwhile initiative.”

The number of trees being planted is linked to CO2
reduction across the MoD fleet from 2013 to 2014, which Forest Carbon calculated to be 3,110 tonnes, representing 8% of the carbon footprint created through the Phoenix rental and lease contracts.

The initiative was promoted to MoD customers and key
strategic suppliers, while canvassing their views and level of support and interest.

Moore said: “The fleet creates a lot of carbon emissions so it is good to invest in a scheme that benefits the environment.

“It is the first time that Babcock International has been involved in such an initiative and hopefully it paves the way for other divisions of the company to get on board.”

Meanwhile, a radical review of the non-combat fleet operated by the MoD is taking place to further cut costs and drive efficiencies that will result in a new vehicle management contract – known as Phoenix II – signed in January 2016 (see Fleet News August 6 for details). It is currently out to tender and due to go live in September 2016.

John Charles 

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