By on March 4, 2021

FedEx had kneeled before mankind, vowing to become a carbon-neutral business by 2040. That’s roughly eight years longer than it’ll probably take most of the population to forget that the promise was ever made. But this is the way of the world and we wager it won’t be long before it’s just easier to list the companies and governments that have not made informal, often empty commitments about the environment.

But, before we throw FedEx into the camp of blatant placation, let’s see what it actually has planned.

The parcel service’s plan involves six layers of action, starting with electrification. FedEx has promised its pickup and delivery fleet will be comprised exclusively of zero-emission EVs by 2040. This will allegedly be accomplished “through phased programs to replace existing” trucks. The company gave an example where 50 percent of Express delivery vehicle purchases would be electric by 2025, with all subsequent purchases being EV only by 2030 – though it did not say this would be exactly how things played out.

Everything else requires a bit more imagination, though a few might actually yield better environmental results than blowing a bunch of cash on EVs. One of our favorites is its plan to work with customers to bolster supply chain sustainability. Most of this is being done via carbon-neutral shipping options and new packaging solutions and seems like an easy enough (and immediate) way to help mitigate wastefulness.

FedEx also plans on investing in sustainable fuels for aircraft and trucks, deploying new forms of fleet monitoring (sky and ground-based) targeting fuel savings, and reconfiguring its facilities to use less energy. There’s even a plan to fund the Yale Center ($100 million) in researching Natural Carbon Capture methods.

“While we’ve made great strides in reducing our environmental impact, we have to do more. The long-term health of our industry is directly linked to the health of the planet, but this effort is about more than the bottom line – it’s the right thing to do,” Mitch Jackson, Chief Sustainability Officer, FedEx, stated. “At FedEx, we are committed to connecting people and possibilities resourcefully and responsibly. The steps we are taking today will contribute a positive impact for generations to come.”

The company has already committed itself to spend $2 billion toward its greener visions but we still think the publicity this kind of investment offers is probably worth more than whatever fruit it manages to yield. As a byproduct, it may also help keep FedEx from falling behind when and if widespread electrification becomes more feasible.

We have a responsibility to take bold action in addressing climate challenges,” explained Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO, FedEx Corp. “This goal builds on our longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout our operations, while at the same time investing in long-term, transformational solutions for FedEx and our entire industry.”

Be sure to check back in 20 years to see how that worked out.

[Image: FedEx]

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32 Comments on “Another One: FedEx Vows to Become Carbon Neutral by 2040...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    We’re a decade into the new EV age. FedEx is talking about vehicles 2 decades from now, which should easily achieve their goals.

    FedEx is in the enviable position of buying vehicles, not making them. It’s the mfg of EVs that’s much harder to do.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The surface EV part of this is the easy part. Most fleet vans are going to be electrified in the next decade; OEMs are telegraphing that loud and clear. Environmental impact aside, the low TCO of EVs will be very compelling for day-use fleets.

    The hard part is aircraft. FedEx has a cute lil airline that happens to be the second-largest operator of widebody aircraft in the world. Those are extremely carbon-intensive machines that last four decades or more in cargo service and can’t easily be electrified. I’ll be very interested to see what they’ve got up their sleeve in terms of less carbon-intensive fuels.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I think the wide-body aircraft will be replaced by 2040. I think they could go to something like a VTOL/Fixed-wing hybrid drone capable of carrying one or two aircraft freight containers. They could fly from facility to facility bypassing airports and without pilots. If battery tech isn’t ready, there could be fossil power for horizontal flight. The real motivation is cost savings. Eliminating the truck trip to and from the airport and the pilots.

      It’s a matter of scaling up something like this:
      https://www.deltaquad.com/

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “They could fly from facility to facility bypassing airports and without pilots.”

        Many laws would also need to be changed in this scenario.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I don’t see that being a workable solution for ranges longer than a couple hundred miles. A big part of the current widebody fleet (777F, MD-11F) is used to fly transoceanic or back and forth to Anchorage. Much of the rest (MD-11F, 767F, A300F) is used on transcontinental runs.

        I think something that looks and works roughly like today’s widebody aircraft but has no pilots and synthetic fuels is far more likely.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Teleportation is even, like, you know, more, like, visionary and, like, stuff!!! Let’s, like vow it! By, like some year, you know! Like 3050 and, like, stuff!!

        After all, only those who can, do. And those who can’t? They vow….

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Apparently, about 2.5% of worldwide carbon emissions come from commercial aviation.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Their brave actions will lower the global temperature by 0.00000001°C by 2100.

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      I think you are overestimating the impact of their virtue signaling. On the other hand if temps start to drop like they did in the 70’s the climate hucksters can pin the “coming man made ice age” on Fedex. They could do a reboot of Leonard Nimoys’ film from that era. https://youtu.be/mOC7ePWCHGk

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Virtue signaling” – you mean, like this?
        youtube.com/watch?v=BqpJvey-7-s
        youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE

        All this panty-wadding over “virtue signaling” is really shorthand for “I don’t like the virtue being signaled here.”

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “you mean, like this?”

          Yes? Similar to that.
          If you find the term “virtue signaling” too loaded then go with “corporate pandering” or even just “strategic marketing”.
          Still I have *zero* expectation that these recent announcements are coming from altruism or that these companies are actually making plans to reach these long term goals. No one in the media ever follows up on this stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Oh, it’s all corporate bulls**t, to be taken with about 100,000 grains of salt. I mean, what…yeoman farmers are part of Ram’s corporate DNA, and Fed Ex is prepared to spend money to save the planet? Ok, whatever…

            The mistake people make is that they take this stuff too seriously.

            Having said all that, I think electric delivery vans make all kinds of sense.

    • 0 avatar
      punkairwaves

      Initially I was intrigued by electric vehicles, but I’ve become so tired of the pseudoscientific “sustainability” rhetoric surrounding them that I’m developing an irrational dislike of them. Give them time to develop and find their place in the transportation system, but please stop the hyperbole.

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        Yeah, the endless slime talk going along with the push towards EV’s is getting really old.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The hyperbole is coming from corporate PR departments. It would tke a revolution in corporation structure to stop companies from running everything by 1-the lawyers, and 2-the public relations shills, the modern equivalent of snake oil salesmen. The out-of-touch boardroom denizens would have to be replaced, and that’s a non-starter.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Companies will do what is most profitable. If crude oil drops to 15 bucks a barrel, the electrification will slow way down.
        Fortunately, solar is getting cheaper and cheaper. Replacement battery packs would make it very quick and convenient to “refuel”. If commercial trucks hit a truck stop every 3 hours, the spent batteries could be replaced with charged ones in the time it takes for the trucker to use the restroom.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I was driving through rural NW Arizona one day, when I stopped at the *only* store to get a drink and a snack. There was a FedEx driver there doing the same thing. I talked to the fellow, and his route covers about 300 miles per day, during which he makes 6-12 stops.

    Somehow I don’t see that as doable in an EV van.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Somehow I don’t see that as doable in an EV van.”

      Not today, but certainly by 2030. But for an EV, I’d rather have this route in Arizona than a cold climate, however.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      For every one driver with a 300-mile route in the rural northwest, how many drivers do you think there are with 25-mile routes in Phoenix-area sprawl?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @eggsalad:
      “I talked to the fellow, and his route covers about 300 miles per day, during which he makes 6-12 stops.”

      EVs don’t have to cover every use-case in order to be useful.

      If 90% of the FedEx drivers use EVs, and those oddball-super long routes run on gas/diesel, that’s a huge win environmentally (power plants are cleaner than car engines) and geopolitically (Natural Gas: no war required).

      But 300-miles isn’t unattainable, either. The tri-motor Tesla Cybertruck is being advertised has having a 500+ mile range. Putting that drivetrain into a “Cybervan” wouldn’t be too hard, and would likely cover that 300-mile range easily.

      So, even if you’re right that this one mega-route is best covered via a conventional vehicle, it’s fine. We’ll likely have 500-mile EVs in 2022, so it’s very likely we’ll have them by 2040.

      The world will change and you’ll be fine.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    How many electric vans does it take to offst an MD-11?

  • avatar

    The question is: Will Amerika survive until 2040? Or even 2035? Or 2025?

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      ILO,

      “Will Amerika survive until 2040? Or even 2035? Or 2025?”

      LOL, If Merka keeps going down hill like it has in the last year by 2025 it will be one huge homeless camp.

      ‘IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions of opinion and taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.’

      The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @Inside Looking Out:
      “The question is: Will Amerika survive until 2040? Or even 2035? Or 2025?”

      People will still be living here? Yes, of course.

      Will things be exactly like they are now, or were in 2016, or 1980? Not likely. Change is the only constant.

  • avatar

    Why EV van cannot cover 300 miles on one charge per day?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      This EV is advertised as having a 500+ mile range:
      https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck/design#battery

      Of course, it’s not on the market yet — so it would be reasonable to take a wait-and-see approach. But, Tesla has been pretty good about delivering the promised range on all of their vehicles.

      If I can buy a 500-mile range electric pickup truck in 2022 or 2023, it’s pretty likely that a van with a similar range will be available before 2040.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Because if some anti-progressive posts it on the internet, it must be true.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I read somewhere that the cheapest solution to greenhouse gasses is to plant billions of trees. I kinda like the slogan, “More trees. Less Azzholes.”

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I once set down with a piece of paper to invent a carbon sequestration system.

      I stopped when I realized I was re-inventing the humble tree.

      However, there are limits to what you can accomplish with a tree. They’re cheap and will even self-propagate and produce commercially viable “waste” products (lumber). But they can only take up so much CO2 so quickly.

      I am happy to have several of them near my house. I’d like to have this carbon sequestration technology in my back yard, please!

      Alas, I already have as much carbon sequestration technology installed on my suburban lot as possible already, and many of the carbon sequestration units in my neighborhood have been in place since the 1950s. Which is how the limitations of this particular carbon sequestration system start to become evident.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Reforestation is one piece of the puzzle.
      Most of the CO2 is photosynthesized by algae in the oceans. CO2 has also been absorbed by seawater, which over the decades has become more acidic as a result. That acidity is rather harmful, to put it mildly, to shellfish, coral and other ocean life, and will take a very long time to be reversed.

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