6 juil 23

Alphabet launches carbon accounting tool for fleets

New solution will help fleets report Scope emissions and accelerate net zero plans.

Alphabet International has launched a comprehensive new tool to help fleets calculate and report carbon emissions and navigate their journeys to net zero.

The introduction of Alphabet Carbon Manager is extremely timely, with 50,000 large companies operating in the European Union learning this month that they will be subject to the mandatory Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The first reports will cover companies’ performance in 2024, and be published in 2025, as the European Union seeks to enhance the transparency and accountability of corporate environmental performance.

This short deadline makes it vital for businesses to build the processes, procedures and internal controls to manage their decarbonisation obligations. But a new Alphabet survey of 700 fleet decision makers, operating vehicles in a dozen different countries, has found that only 37% currently monitor their CO2 emissions, despite almost two-thirds saying they are pursuing sustainability goals.

Being able to collect accurate and verifiable carbon data is a vital first step for fleets to comply with greenhouse gas reporting regulations. Without collecting and analysing precise data, fleets have no way of knowing either if they are on course to achieve their sustainability goals or where to invest to accelerate their progress.

“Using the Alphabet Carbon Manager tool our customers have the possibility to examine their fleet, what it’s currently emitting, and identify what they can do to improve their performance,” said Markus Deusing, managing director of Alphabet International (pictured above).

Accuracy not averages

Historically, fleets could rely on average emission figures to estimate the size of their carbon footprints, but this approximate approach no longer satisfies the accuracy demanded by the new reporting regulations, which will expect similar levels of detail and accuracy as financial disclosures.

Plug-in hybrid cars provide a prime example of the perils of relying on official averages, rather than real world performance, as a new report by the UK Government’s Climate Change Committee revealed last week. It cited evidence that shows the carbon savings from plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars to be around three to five times lower in the real world than previously assumed, and emphasised the importance of prioritising battery-electric vehicles over ‘less efficient and less cost-effective PHEVs’.

“If you look at WLTP averages a PHEV might emit 24g/km, but if it is not driven correctly and the driver only uses the combustion engine, it will never reach this figure,” said Deusing. “Fleets need greater precision in their carbon figures because it’s all about how they use these vehicles – averages are not enough any longer.”

Accurate emissions data can be accessed from multiple sources, he added, with fuel cards and electric vehicle charge cards being the most useful, although records of mileages driven, and even lease contract mileages can be number-crunched by Alphabet Carbon Manager’s algorithms to get as close to the true figures as possible. The software solution also takes into account private mileages and, if available, even the emissions from the energy generated to charge an electric car, separating renewable from fossil fuel sources.

The platform represents an extension of the CO2 and sustainability consultancy that Alphabet has been undertaking with its customers in recent years. It provides an end-to-end software solution that enables businesses to self-manage their net-zero journey, from collecting data to calculating emissions, setting CO2 reduction targets, planning programmes, and reporting non-financial information.

Granular detail

Alphabet Carbon Manager has been developed in partnership with Plan A, a carbon accounting, decarbonisation and ESG reporting software provider, and is capable of granular levels of detail, with its science and methodologies certified by TÜV Rheinland to comply with the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Lubomila Jordanova, Founder and CEO of Plan A (pictured below), said: “Focusing on precise carbon accounting in vehicle emissions not only allows fleets to report accurate figures but also to steer their decarbonisation agendas along a well-defined pathway.”

Gathering the data to support the required levels of accuracy may be a challenge for many fleets, with Jordanova recognising that in certain geographies companies may have never collected it, but she said this is a challenge that companies cannot ignore with company cars and vans a major contributor to corporate Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

5% revenue penalties

Moreover, failing to define and deliver meaningful decarbonisation programmes (known as Carbon Transition Plans) could leave companies facing penalties of up to 5% of their annual revenues, which makes carbon accounting a financial imperative as well as a corporate responsibility, warned Jordanova.

“Today, any business that decides to pursue a clearly defined sustainability agenda is not only preparing to align with regulatory frameworks, but is also making sure it stays competitive and relevant in the future,” she said.

Whole fleet approach

Importantly, fleets that own or lease vehicles from other suppliers can upload the data from these cars and vans into Alphabet Carbon Manager, which in turn can integrate with other corporate carbon accounting platforms that companies are using for other areas of their business operations.

“The beauty of this collaboration is that we are starting with fleet, because it’s our core business, but we don’t just stop there. If a customer needs to look at CO2 in a broader context, we can pass the customer on to Plan A to support the whole CO2 reduction model,” said Deusing.

Alphabet Carbon Manager will be live in Germany from September and will be rolled out to a further 11 countries by the end of the year, with a business model based on a subscription fee per fleet, regardless of size, rather than per vehicle.

And by adopting a whole-fleet approach, businesses can ensure they direct their decarbonisation investments into areas where they will have the biggest impact.

“You need to understand the totality of your fleet emissions to improve your performance,” said Jordanova. “Sustainability requires businesses to digitise all of these different data transition processes it’s because it’s going to be an integral part of fleet and corporate decision making.

“The objective of this tool is to highlight the key pillars of the decarbonisation journey. It enables fleets to assess where they are today and identifies the biggest opportunities for drivers and fleets to reach net zero targets.”

Avoid last minute panic

The pressure to reach these targets is intensifying, but by implementing Alphabet Carbon Manager today, fleets can avoid the last-minute panic of trying to comply with emissions reporting requirements in 2025, said Deusing.

“This is the right time to be able to help fleet decision makers. Big pressures are coming and we want to help them, educate them and give them opportunity to manage their CO2 emissions themselves in their line functions with a tool they can rely on,” he said.

Images: Shutterstock - 2205147181, and Alphabet

Authored by: Jonathan Manning