Kuehne + Nagel will offer CO₂-neutral transport from 2020 onwards

We promise to provide our customers with environmental friendly, sustainable and innovative supply chain solutions that will reduce our collective CO₂ footprint and help stakeholders achieve their bold environmental targets.

Global warming dramatically impact our natural ecosystems and without far reaching measures life on our planet is under threat; we need courageous and swift actions from companies to change that truth. The logistics industry contributes 7% to the global emission of CO₂. As an industry leader we commit to reducing our contribution to that percentage through ambitious climate protection targets, to ensure a future for the generations to come.

Net Zero Carbon is our global programme to neutralise our carbon footprint. Key elements include:

  • Carbon management: Maintain effective carbon management throughout all operations
  • Environmental products & services: Provide environmentally sensitive products to our customers
  • Supplier environmental performance: Environmental criteria to procure and select logistics services


Our targets

With "Net Zero Carbon" we address carbon reduction in transport and logistics services worldwide. In addition to our own carbon neutrality, we will offer our customers solutions for reducing their supply chain’s carbon footprint, using big data and predictive analytics, as well as new digital platforms supporting the selection of transport routes and modes that emit less carbon.

Carbon neutral for own emissions since 2020
Since 2020, we will be fully carbon neutral worldwide for all emissions in our direct sphere of influence (Scopes 1 and 2 of the greenhouse gas emissions accounting set by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative - GHG Protocol).

Carbon neutral including our suppliers’ and customers’ footprint by 2030
In addition, we will target the emissions included in scope 3 of the GHG Protocol by addressing the carbon footprint of our suppliers: airlines, shipping lines, and haulage companies – outlined in a roadmap for neutrality by 2030 together with our customers.

As a first step, all less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments will be carbon neutral since 2020.

Kuehne + Nagel CEO Detlef Trefzger

"We are all responsible for the environment, for our ecosystem, and above all for the people – in business and private life.

We as a company act now with our Net Zero Carbon programme to fight carbon emissions and offer sustainable and innovative supply chain solutions."

Dr. Detlef Trefzger, Chief Executive Officer
Kuehne + Nagel International AG


Our path to carbon neutrality: visibility, reduction, offsetting

Our journey towards full carbon neutrality by 2030 has begun. Through state-of-the-art carbon calculators that work based on globally accepted calculation standards we are able to reduce carbon emission around the globe. By using our carbon emissions compensation services we neutralise the remains.

Explore our 2018 Sustainability Report and learn about our commitment towards sustainability.

Our roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030

Roadmap to neutrality
Visibility in logistics


Carbon Calculator
Making greener choices requires awareness of our carbon footprint along each step of the supply chain. We have included the CCWG (Clean Cargo Working Group) methodology in our Carbon Calculator and customer emission reports, enabling shippers to gather reliable information regarding the use of equipment and monitoring systems. This enables optimised routing, vessel selections, and reduces the carbon footprint caused by redundant inland movements.

SeaExplorer – Digital Sustainability Platform
Our online platform for sea liner services provides insights into the world’s largest sea freight service network. SeaExplorer offers full visibility on realistic and accurate carbon and sulphur emissions across services, which supports routing and planning activities when selecting services with lowest carbon emissions. The platform also gives shippers insights into how every vessel carrying their goods will comply with the upcoming IMO 2020 regulation. Learn more about SeaExplorer





Environmental issues are an integral part of our QSHE management system. We hold ISO 14001 environmental certification for more than 200 locations worldwide.

Our company programme in respect of reduction of own direct and indirect emissions includes for example:

  • Implementation of advanced technologies, such as solar energy and waste disposal in all new logistics centres
  • Usage of renewable energy
  • Ongoing training programmes to maintain and expand the environmental awareness of employees
  • Video conferencing increasingly replaces business trips
  • Environmental champions



Technological progress is helping to reduce emissions, but as GDP growth causes an up to 2-fold increase of global transports, emission reduction activities are outpaced by economic growth. The time to act is now. Carbon offsetting is a recognised mechanism that allows companies and individuals to counterbalance carbon emissions of a shipment that cannot be avoided. We will lessen our footprint by investing in certified nature-based projects around the world that will offset our impact. This mechanism will be made available to our customers.

Learn more

Questions and answers on carbon neutrality at Kuehne + Nagel

How exactly does Kuehne + Nagel intend to reach its ambitious climate targets?

We will achieve it through a combination of carbon reduction and offsetting based on enabling advanced carbon visibility – all in line with our overarching programme to protect the environment including decrease on electricity, reduced water consumption and recycling of waste.

We work hand-in-hand with airlines, shipping lines and haulage companies to provide sustainable operations and state-of-the-art technology. The core element to make greener choices is to be aware and to track the carbon footprint at each step of the value chain. Therefore, the shipping-related emissions are fully visible for our clients in our Sea Explorer and carbon calculator platforms.

But in spite of all efforts at reduction through technological innovations and energy savings, carbon emissions still cannot be 100% avoided. Voluntary carbon offsetting is a recognised mechanism which allows individuals and companies to compensate for carbon emissions of a shipment that cannot be avoided through savings. This can be done through investing in environmental projects which contribute to a carbon footprint reduction of the transport.

Is carbon neutrality the only ambition Kuehne + Nagel is aiming for?

It is not enough to achieve carbon neutrality to increase ecological value. Therefore, our more comprehensive environmental programme includes carbon emission reductions as well as a range of other emission reduction methods for our overall environmental effect. While installing solar panels on the rooftop may help reduce emissions, what really matters is the overall sustainability of a company, its processes, its sourcing standards, and the quality and efficiency of its products.

With energy efficient and innovative solutions we can assist customers in decreasing their own carbon footprint and measure and communicate this effectiveness as a positive handprint.

Is Kuehne + Nagel no longer emitting carbon?

As logistics provider we will continue to produce carbon. This is unavoidable. But: Since 2020, we neutralise our direct carbon emissions which cannot be avoided.

What is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol?

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), is the most internationally accepted and commonly applied standard for emissions accounting. The protocol sets a global standard for firms on how to measure, manage and report greenhouse gas emissions in a way that double counting of emissions is avoided.

What are Scope 1, 2 and 3?

The GHG Protocol has subdivided emissions of greenhouse gases into three categories:

Scope 1, 2, and 3.

Scope 1 - Direct emissions produced by sources that are owned or controlled by the company, e.g. manufacturing, company cars

Scope 2 - Indirect emissions produced by activities of the company that occur at sources owned or controlled by another company, e.g. purchase of electricity  

Scope 3 - Encompasses emissions from other indirect, non-company controlled sources, e.g. supplier's activities   

What is the GLEC Framework?

Led by Smart Freight Centre (SFC), the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) was established in 2014 by stakeholders from industry initiatives, associations and leading multinationals involved in freight movement. The objective is to create one universal and transparent way of calculating logistics emissions across the global multi-modal supply chain. The GLEC Framework will enable a company to understand its carbon footprint alongside cost and time to decide the best way to transport its goods and to choose the most efficient freight carriers. 

The GLEC Framework builds on existing methodologies such as CEN 16258, Clean Cargo Working Group, IATA RP 1678 and SmartWay, as well as outputs from the EU funded project COFRET and the US National Cooperative Freight Research Programme.

What is the scientific backing for Kuehne + Nagel’s Net Zero Emissions Programme?

Our Carbon Management Programme has been externally verified and certified under the ISO 14064-3 Norm. In addition and in accordance with the Paris Agreement (COP21), we are currently in the process to Elaborate our Science Based Targets and carbon calculation methods and have them approved and in place in the following months.

How are, for example, the carbon emission for Seafreight transport calculated?

Currently, we make use of the data provided by the SeaExplorer and the Carbon Calculator, which is based on the accounting standards of the Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG).

Going forward, we will make use of an advanced approach using Vessel Master Data. The emissions of ships are currently being reported on an aggregated level, e.g. on a trade lane level, by different bodies (e.g. CCWG). Our Logindex implements a data based model to approximate the carbon emissions on vessel level based on vessel properties (engine efficiency, capacity). Emissions are reported on an emission / distance / TEU basis.

Basis and Methodology Vessel Emission Score
The emission value for each vessel is calculated with an adapted version of the Energy Efficiency Design Index EEDI by IMO. The model estimates the fuel consumption of the ship’s main engines and assumes all the fuel consumed is converted into carbon. For the estimation of the fuel consumption, the model relies on data from providers such as Clarksons for the engine power, specific fuel consumption (how much fuel is required for unit of power), the vessel design, speed and nominal capacity. For a carbon emission per container level, the model assumes capacity utilisation common for all vessels. The emission is reported on a per km basis, thus multiplying this number with distance travelled for a ship will result in an estimation of carbon emitted on a specific route per TEU.

How does offsetting exactly work?

Still, carbon emissions of shipments cannot be 100% avoided. Until they can be technologically reduced to zero they can be offset via us by investing in nature-based projects around the world that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon credits are generated to prove that a certain amount of carbon emissions has been offset and that the shipment has been carbon neutralised. We have started our own nature projects in Myanmar and New Zealand and we buy credits from a global portfolio of environmental projects, including Cordillera Azul National Park Project in Peru and the Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project in Indonesia. Each carbon credit is subject to a third-party verification process and represents the avoidance or removal of one tonne of carbon.

What projects does Kuehne + Nagel invest in to offset my supply chain? Selection below:

We partnered up with various NGO's and developers in order to support our customers to create their own carbon neutrality path. We work with nature-based projects around the world that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving the livelihoods of local communities and preserving biodiversity and wildlife. These projects – verified by independent organisations with the highest internationally recognised standards and based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – generate carbon credits which can be used to compensate for the emissions of a shipment.

Isn’t offsetting comparable to selling of indulgences?

Certainly, avoiding carbon is better than offsetting it. However, carbon offsetting is definitely not a sale of indulgences. It enables the offsetting of emissions which are difficult to avoid, leading to more climate protection Overall.

What is the role of afforestation for saving carbon emissions?

One hectare of forest filters up to 50 tonnes of soot and dust from the air, generates around 100,000 cubic metres of new groundwater, releases 15-30 tonnes of oxygen per year, and binds to 10.6 tonnes of carbon. But it is not enough to stop this reservoir from being plundered in order to limit the rise in our atmosphere‘s temperature.

This living carbon reservoir must be protected and afforested as nature has the potential to provide more than one third of the climate solution by 2030. Nature based solutions comprise all activities
related to the protection, or redevelopment, of natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, and wetland systems to lower concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. Each of these activities results in the
biological capture and storage of carbon - typically through the process of photosysthesis.

We commit to supporting this effort through our offsetting programmes.

[Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science; The Nature Conservancy]