FedEx Plans to Make Its 40K Fleet Carbon-Neutral by 2040

It’s part of the massive company’s plan to transition its 650 aircraft and 43,000 motor vehicle fleet into a carbon-neutral future.

Credit | FedEx

In an announcement this morning, FedEx said that the company would be spending $2 billion on “initial investments,” in order to become carbon neutral by 2040. FedEx is the latest company in a long line of large corporations which have been pledging to phase out carbon-emitting vehicles and devices.

This is an especially difficult task for FedEx, who claims to have the largest cargo airline in the world, with over 650 diesel sucking aircraft, in operation. Due to diesel aircraft’s heavy carbon footprint, it’ll be very difficult for FedEx to counteract the massive amount of CO2 produced.

The company has said that the $2 billion initial investment will be spent in three major areas of development: vehicle electrification, sustainable energy, and carbon sequestration. FedEx is also going to donate a total of $100 million to Yale University, a leading effort to device new carbon capturing technologies (carbon sequestration).

Heavy lifting

The vast majority of FedEx’s cash investment will go towards upgrading FedEx’s largely gas-powered and diesel-powered fleet to electric delivery vehicles. This move into EVs will take place over the next few years, with a plan to purchase 50% of total Express pickup and delivery vehicles as EVs, by 2025. The company plans to move all purchases to EVs by 2030, however.

The biggest issue for FedEx isn’t their massive ground delivery service however. It’ll be difficult, but very plausible for FedEx to replace all trucks and vehicles with EVs. The big issue comes with their expansive air fleet, largely quoted as the world’s largest cargo airline.

There’s no easy, or even current, solution to diesel airplanes. Sure, there’s some electric airplanes in development, but they’re early prototypes, and will likely be incredibly expensive if they ever come to the commercial market. Remember, EVs have been around for quite a while now, although there’s been virtual no progress towards electrifying FedEx or UPS’ air fleet.

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Is it too late?

Don’t get it wrong, FedEx is doing a great thing by trying to become carbon neutral. The only issue, is that it might be too late. Other major corporations, even automakers such as Volvo, Ford, and GM, are planning on becoming carbon-neutral, or EV-exclusive by the end of the decade. FedEx is planning for twenty years in the future, with diesel airplanes and vehicles needing to be replaced.

FedEx operates a total of 118 electric trucks, and 364 commercial hybrid trucks. That’s 1.1% of the total 43,000 motor vehicles that FedEx has in operation, right now. Luckily though, FedEx is also planning on removing carbon emissions by changing their packaging and shipping facilities.

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As pointed out by The Verge, FedEx hasn’t mentioned whether or not they’d be using carbon offsets as an easy way to achieve full carbon neutrality. That’s a really important distinction to make, as carbon offsets are pretty much just investments into renewable technologies. True carbon neutrality would involve reducing carbon emissions generated, and increase renewable sources. Offsets just allow companies with lots of money to throw money at research and get a “reduced carbon output” as a result.

Hopefully the company isn’t pursuing offsets, as there’s growing evidence that the offsets haven’t succeeded in slowing carbon dioxide emissions, or global warming. They’ve instead given large companies with cash, like FedEx, escapes from actually making change to their carbon output.

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