Current Projects

COFRET – CO2 Emissions of Freight Transport

The European Union (EU) has stated that global temperatures should not exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C in order to keep impacts of climate change at a manageable level. To reach this target, industrialised countries and regions, including the EU, are expected to reduce their total annual GHG emissions by 30% up to 2020 and by 60-80% by 2050, compared to 1990 emission levels.

In order to reduce emissions, efficiency and effectiveness of supply chains needs to be optimised. This again requires transparency of energy consumption and of emissions. A global standardization for the calculation of emissions would contribute to such a transparency as it allows comparison of the efficiency and effectiveness with regard to supply chains’ energy consumption. Currently, however, such a standard does not exist and a wide range of different methodologies and tools are applied by the various players: different databases are used, various calculation tools apply different indicators, etc. As a consequence, results are usually not comparable. Many companies monitor their CO2 emissions already, a globally applicable standard still needs to be developed and implemented internationally though.

To support the efforts of shippers, forwarders, rail operators, airlines and road carriers in reducing GHG emissions, a consortium of 14 European partners from eight European countries was formed to develop and test a requirements toward a methodology framework for the accurate calculation of GHG emissions in the context of supply chains. The consortium, which is named COFRET (Carbon Footprint of Freight Transport), waspart of the 7th Framework Programme co-financed by the European Commission. DLR Institute of Transport Research coordinated the project.


Within the COFRET project, over 120 tools, methods and databases, e.g. EN 16258, ISO 14064, Green House Gas Protocol as well as initiatives and tools such as Smart Freight Centre, Green Freight Europe and EcoTransIT, were analysed in detail, taking over 70 different aspects into consideration. This empirical research was complemented by user workshops, developer workshops, questionnaires, expert interviews all held with industry partners and stakeholders. Based on this analysis the most important gaps were identified and suggestions for their closure were developed and suggested. Throughout the entire project a close cooperation between research and industry was of fundamental importance to the project and integrative part of it. The project closed with an International Workshop Agreement within the ISO frame, IWA 16 "International harmonized method(s) for a coherent quantification of CO2e emissions of freight transport".


COFRET’s main objective was to provide industry, shippers and logistics providers, with the opportunity to remove the current uncertainty over calculating the carbon footprint of freight transport. To achieve this the following work was carried out:

  1. Review of existing methodologies for the calculation of carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of freight transport and logistics in the context of supply chains and evaluation of their compatibility with the European standard EN 16258 for calculation of the carbon footprint of transport
  2. Identification of gaps and ambiguities in calculation the guidelines within the EN 16258 standard relating to coverage of freight transport and logistics, supported by the means of real-life case studies
  3. 3. Prioritisation of suggestions for possible approaches to achieve comparability for the calculation of emissions along supply chains, with a special focus on the identified gaps and ambiguities.

The COFRET approach fully complied with the European standard EN 16258, published in 2012. The added value of COFRET is that it provides transparency on existing carbon footprint calculation methodologies and that it provides suggestions for next steps needed in order to achieve global harmonisation of calculation principles and comparable reporting as part of a process to support global alignment of standardisation. Furthermore, by closing the project with the IWA 16 it was possible to transfer the findings of the COFRET project into an internationally recognized format.

For detailed information please got to:

Contracting entity

  • European Commission, DG Research, FP7-Framework Program


  • CERTH-HIT - Centre for Research and Technology - Hellas
  • DLR - Institute of Transport Research
  • IFSTTAR - Institut français des sciences et technologies
  • ITSW - Motor Transport Institute
  • MARLO Consultants GmbH
  • PANTEIA - Transport Research and Training
  • PTV - Planung Transport Verkehr AG
  • RAPP Trans - Traffic and Transport Consultancy
  • TNO - Mobility and Logistics
  • TOI - Institute of Transport Economics, Norwegian Centre for Transport Research
  • TTR - Transport & Travel Research Ltd
  • TU Dortmund - Institute of Transport Logistics
  • VGTU - Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Institute of Transport
  • VTT - Technical Research Centre of Finland

Project duration

06/2011 to 11/2014

Dr.-Ing. Verena Ehrler
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Transport Research
, Commercial Transport
Tel: +49 30 67055-453

Fax: +49 30 67055-283

Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Lischke
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Transport Research
, Commercial Transport
Tel: +49 30 67055-236

Fax: +49 30 67055-283

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