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Well that was the summer that was. With the UK democratic system flexing its muscles in June, the EU is set to become a thing of the past for this sceptered isle. 

This we all know. 

But despite the very conscious uncoupling that will at some point in the (not-too-distant nobody-knows-when) future take place, many questions remain about what a post-Brexit Britain might look like. And that’s particularly true when it comes to the environment. 

For the supply chain and logistics industry environmental legislation and fuel price shifts are important, and increasingly so. As the majority of environmental legislation in the UK is derived from EU law, post-Brexit, will the “liberated” UK turn into a polluting behemoth, free to pump noxious gases into the air at the cost of anything? If so, what does this mean for you and your business? With eCommerce booming and consumers demanding more and more to be delivered to their homes by road (even more pertinent with the likes of Amazon Dash) how will the environment fare? 

CHANGE MEANS CHANGE

When Theresa May swept into No.10 at the beginning of July she swiftly abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This move left many with some serious concerns about the impact this will have on Britain’s environmental commitments, with politicians and commentators branding the decision “plain stupid”, "deeply worrying" and "terrible". This, and Brexit, are seen by many to put Britain’s commitment to the Paris Agreement (which is an agreement to reduce carbon emissions) at risk. So now, perhaps more than ever, businesses need to take the lead themselves with their own targets to cut emissions in a way that can also be profitable, while taking collective responsibility for an industry where there is no getting away from its polluting components. 

Many carriers are already trying ardently to hit CO2 reduction targets. Hermes, for example, has set itself a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2020. We've recently published an ebook titled Growing green credentials into profits, outlining why ignoring climate change is apocalyptic, not just for global warming and the Earth itself, but for your business. As the book states, "reasons for valuing sustainability are moving away from reputation management towards gaining competitive advantage through growth and cost savings."

Whether this is through saving electricity or using more environmentally friendly tyres, the book outlines steps to take that can increase your profits while helping the environment. 

Consolidation between carriers is also explored in the ebook as a possible solution. UPS, for example, won a contract to deliver goods to the London 2012 Olympic Park, consolidating multiple carriers for the final mile stretch of deliveries to this condensed area. And this could be a model adopted more widely in the future: carriers coming together to deliver to addresses in close proximity to one another. 

UNCERTAINTY MEANS UNCERTAINTY

As with most things Brexit, it all depends on what the UK government agrees on. If the UK decides to remain a member of the EEA it will be ”required to formally continue to adopt most EU environmental legislation, including in areas such as environmental permitting, air and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, electrical and electronic equipment and chemicals registration.” But until this is resolved, there are still steps retailers and carriers can take to curb emissions themselves, much like Hermes, and see going green as an opportunity. And embracing new technology to be able to move with the green times and choose a green carrier if you wish, could be the key to achieving this. Another positive outcome may find you dissecting fuel costs more acutely, much like our discussions in our earlier ebook, Drilling Down: oil prices and the economy.

In an industry like ours, we need to take collective responsibility to find new ways to tackle environmental change and take advantage of our cutting-edge technology in order to do it. That way customer convenience can continue to be met without killing businesses. If we think of green business as a chance to gain competitive advantage, then the world could be your oyster, as opposed to your Achilles heel.

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