Global logistics emissions council framework for logistics emissions accounting and reporting

The GLEC Framework is the global method for the calculation and reporting of logistics emissions.

The Global Logistics Emissions Council, Smart Freight Centre (2019)


The GLEC Framework is the global method for the calculation and reporting of logistics emissions. It is the only globally recognised methodology for harmonized calculation and reporting of the logistics global greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint across the multi-modal supply chain, and can be implemented by shippers, carriers and logistics service providers.

Freight transportation and logistics activities contribute 8–10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A concerted global effort within this sector is critical to reaching the Paris Climate Agreement targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. Multinationals are key to this effort, especially those with global brands and supply chains, with the power to take action as the buyers or suppliers of freight services. They can act as leaders through reporting carbon emissions, setting climate targets and collaborating with partners to reach them.

Calculating and reporting emissions is a first step. Smart Freight Centre and a group of companies, associations and programs formed the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) and together developed the first GLEC Framework in 2016.

Since then, global companies have made significant progress in understanding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation, with an increasing number of companies adopting the GLEC Framework.



While the original 2016 Framework established the foundations of the methodology, version 2.0 fills the gaps left in version 1.0 and brings the content up to date.

Other improvements include:

  • Additional guidance on logistics sites, the mail and parcel sector, and inland waterways transport;
  • Updated default emission intensity factors for transport activities;
  • Data collection and assurance guidelines;
  • Recommendations for standardized reporting of emissions: the GLEC Declaration.

It is hoped that the GLEC Framework will provide a common language to track the climate impacts of logistics, playing an important role in companies’ effort to make logistics emissions reductions an integrated part of their corporate identity.



The logistics sector plays a vital role in the supply chains that connect the global economy but it has a vast environmental impact. The transport sector comprises 23% of GHG emissions, making it the third largest source after industry and buildings. Freight transportation made up 36% of transport’s emissions in 2015, but is expected to be at least equivalent to passenger transport by 2050. While three-quarters of freight is shipped by sea, road is by far the dominant source of global logistics emissions, with over 1,700 million tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2015.

Demand for freight transport is expected to triple by 2050, driven largely by Asia, Africa and Latin America. As other sectors decrease their reliance on oil and gas, the fossil fuel-dependent transport sector is predicted to become the most carbon-intensive sector by 2040.

Without intervention, freight transport emissions will more than double by 2050, but growth in the logistics sector does not necessarily have to mean growth in emissions. More efficient freight transport could provide an opportunity to keep transport emissions at a level similar to today. However, to know whether it is on track to meet this goal, the logistics sector must commit to a system of tracking and reporting carbon emissions.



Carbon emissions have become the de facto metric to communicate sustainability. Tracking these over time allows companies to use both total emissions and carbon intensity as key performance indicators (KPIs) in operational and supply chain planning and target-setting.

That said, carbon accounting for logistics is still a relatively new practice. The complexity of the sector necessitates a relatively simple and practical approach that companies of all sizes and institutional capacities can apply, which the GLEC Framework provides.

The Framework works with industry standards accredited by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, for shippers, carriers and logistics service providers (LSPs), as well as for other end users of emissions information, including governments, investors and green freight programs.

It works for companies just beginning to account for their transport emissions, to the other extreme, for companies that have full visibility of emissions in their operations and supply chain – and provides a realistic pathway for the former to progress and achieve the latter. The Framework also supports green freight programs, which play a critical role in connecting shippers and carriers around the globe. Accounting and reporting freight activity is part of the broader process of supply chain efficiency and sustainability efforts that green freight programs help to support.



The GLEC Framework is not a formal standard that provides only one prescriptive approach to the calculation and reporting of logistics emissions. Instead it provides boundaries for the emissions to be reported, base methodologies that can be used, considerations for the reporting process, and guidance on how to deliver the best output.  It is a decisive and necessary step towards a formal International Standards Organization (ISO) standard for the calculation of freight transport and logistics emissions.

The GLEC Framework also shows users where they can improve calculations in order to reduce the uncertainty of results. Doing this will, in turn, make it easier to identify where to target cost and emissions savings. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing the GLEC Framework, the document intends to provide a solid starting point for designing a program that works for companies.