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Will Electrifying Delivery Trucks Limit the Predicted CO2 Emissions of this Decade?

The Australia Wildfires have evoked a sense of urgency concerning the climate change issue. The numbers, specifically the 500 million animals killed in the fires, are astonishing and heartbreaking. The fires have been a result of record high temperatures and low moisture in the air and earth. Climate change caused these fires, and it will continue to make them worse. Many people now are wondering what will come next? What can we do to help Australia? What will we do to prevent more events like this?

Maxine Joselow writes for the Scientific American about the impact that the commercial delivery process has on the environment. The World Economic Forum released a report in early January, 2020 on the rise of e-commerce in major cities around the world. The report showed that the number of delivery vehicles in the top 100 cities is predicted to rise 36% within the next decade, and as a result, carbon dioxide emissions will rise 32% from the delivery traffic alone; that’s 6 million tons.

My brother recently received a camera drone for Christmas, and I was immediately reminded of it while reading this article. My initial reaction was, “just replace the trucks with drones,” since I remember hearing about the new advancements in drone delivery. However, Joselow reminded me that drone technology, though very advanced, is not yet at a level in which it could be used efficiently, safely, and practically. The possibility of drone delivery in the future also depends on the area in which they would be delivering. In urban communities, there is are safety concerns surrounding air traffic and pedestrians.

The report from the World Economic Forum recommended several solutions to the carbon-emitting delivery truck problem, including replacing trucks with drones and requiring all delivery trucks to be electric. One author at the World Economic Forum Richa Sahay analyzes supply chain and transport work, and he claims that making the switch from gas to electric delivery vehicles would make the biggest dent in carbon emission levels.


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  1. mitochondriana

    I really like your article saadoplasm! I think that it definitely makes me think about the climate change crisis as well as showing us that there is no obvious, viable option when it comes to replacing fossil fuels in most vehicles and in this case specifically trucks. I do agree with you in that electric motors could be a great resolve to the issues of a larger-than-acceptable carbon footprint, however I think that there could be a lot of problems with replacing the crude oil engine with an electric one. It would not necessarily be cost efficient, charging takes longer than filling up a tank, and the car’s milage drops in the cold in the same way our phones lose a lot of charge while we’re skiing in the mountains. I’m also not sure how the increase in nuclear fission power plants would affect the environment and that could be great to look in to as that’s where most electricity comes from. This is a link to a page that expands upon the topic of nuclear power plants and their environmental factors:
    Personally, I still think your article is really awesome for discussing the idea of a new energy source. The world has not had an energy revolution since the first (put into play by mainly by Edison’s introduction of electricity to the world). In the same way that dark and cold winters made it clear that people in the early to mid 19th century that they needed a renewable energy source, so does climate change make it apparent to us that we must find a new way to harness useable energy. As of now, earth is classified as a type 0.7 civilization. Type I is normally called a planetary civilization that uses all of the energy the planet’s sun expels onto a planet. This is a link to a page that I think is interesting as well that goes into further depth about the possibility of a new energy revolution and why earth is not a type I .

  2. andygen

    This is a very interesting topic Saadoplasm! I believe that Amazon should take the inevitable financial loss in order to benefit the climate and our environment. Personally, I believe that the solution will be electric trucks and vehicles because these trucks have already been designed and produced. Something interesting that your article reminded me of was that certain countries have very restricted interaction with Amazon. While Amazon doe snot provide services in countries like North Korea and Iran due to political tension and danger, it limits with extreme regulation in the small Asian country of Bhutan. Bhutan is consistently considered one of the most eco-friendly nations on the earth because it bans plastics and gas guzzlers. Bhutan is in fact the only carbon negative country on earth! This is in part because of their extreme regulation on Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, or any sort of mass shipping companies. While becoming as eco-friendly as Bhutan is simply impossible for a countries like the United States, China, and the United Kingdom, we should all incorporate some of their climate-benefitting solutions into our daily lives.

  3. metalibolism

    This article was very interesting! I think this is an issue that everyone should be focused on before the problem increases further. Drones seem to be a promising solution, but there is still a lot of testing to be done. Although Amazon is focused on efficiency, there is also the issue of safely integrating drones into the airspace as mentioned here: There has yet to be a system designed that can manage all the air traffic that drones would bring. Although they are promising for the future, I agree that electric delivery trucks are the most effective option in the meantime.

  4. jacuole

    Saadoplasm, it was refreshing to read this article, because oftentimes the threat of climate change seems too big a threat for us to effectively combat. Going off your article and Jessophagus’ comments about Amazon, the multi-billion dollar industry is taking steps towards making electric delivery vehicles a reality. According to this Business Insider article (, Amazon plans to have 10,000 electric delivery vans on the road by 2022 and 100,000 of them operating by 2030. This is all a part of a bigger goal for Amazon: becoming a carbon neutral enterprise by 2040 under the conditions of The Climate Pledge. Though we have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see how large businesses are more environmentally conscious and taking steps to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

  5. jackuole

    I found this really interesting Saadoplasm, because the idea of one realistic change having a big positive impact on global warming seemed almost too good to be true. Going off Jessophagus’s comment, there may be hope yet for the exorbitant emissions produced by Amazon’s fast shipping. According to a Business Insider article (, Amazon plans to have at least 10,000 electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2022, and 100,000 operating by 2030. Apparently it’s part of their efforts to become a carbon-neutral company, meaning that their goal is to eliminate their carbon footprint. If Amazon accomplishes its goal, it could be a big precedent for other being corporations working towards stopping global warming

  6. jessophagus

    I have been thinking about the impacts of commercial delivery recently, having a sustainable business enterprise of my own, reading blog posts about the ethical conflicts of shipping from sustainable brands such as Bite Toothpaste, and seeing firsthand an increase of delivery trucks in my own neighborhood. I agree that switching to electric vehicle delivery would tremendously propel efforts against the climate change epidemic. Another factor to consider is the speed at which we receive packages. Amazon rush shipping requires more truck trips, reversing the positive environmental impacts of online shipping. The faster shipping also makes other competing companies- among them UPS and FedEx – to inflate their carbon footprints. Data show that within the last two years, the time it has taken for an item to be delivered went down from 5.2 days to 4.3. And with Amazon one day shipping default options, this reality will only get worse if we don’t shift to a more sustainable, regular paced delivery method.


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