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Driving green: Sustainable logistics transport in Cambodia's expanding economy

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Over the past decade, Cambodia has become an economic focal point in Southeast Asia, with a rapidly expanding economy fueled by the rise of industry, trade, and investment. According to the World Bank’s Cambodia Economic, real growth in Cambodia climbed to 5.2% in 2022. The core of this growth is anchored by transportation and logistics, essential mechanisms that facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people both within the country and internationally.

As Cambodia continues its ascent, it faces a critical juncture – ensuring that this growth is accompanied by a commitment to sustainability. This is where sustainable transport and logistics enters the fray, promising a future that is both economically vibrant and environmentally conscious.

The sustainability imperative in transport

Sustainability in transport isn't just an environmental buzzword – it's a necessity. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), emissions from the transport sector grew by more than 250 Mt CO2 to nearly 8 Gt CO2, 3% more than in 2021. Road vehicles – cars, trucks, buses, and two- and three-wheelers – accounted for more than a third of the transport sector’s CO2 emissions, with aviation and shipping contributing most of the remainder, as found by Statista. 

For countries looking to reduce their carbon footprint, overhauling the transport sector becomes a priority.

The transportation sector is one of the most significant contributors to global carbon emissions. Conventional transport modes, reliant on fossil fuels, not only impact our planet's health but also pose economic risks. Fluctuating oil prices can affect operational costs, and potential future regulations around emissions could add financial burdens on non-compliant businesses.

Moreover, the effects of climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable practices, can lead to disruptions in logistics and supply chains due to extreme weather events. For Cambodia, a country with a burgeoning logistics and transport sector, the stakes are high. Sustainable transport isn't just about being green – it's about ensuring the continued growth and resilience of the Cambodian economy.

Emerging sustainable transport practices in Cambodia

Cambodia is not idly standing by. A wave of sustainable initiatives is reshaping the country's transport landscape:

Electric vehicles (EVs) 

Cambodia's embrace of electric vehicles (EVs) is becoming evident with each passing year. The statistics are compelling: a staggering 1,000 % increase in registered EVs was observed in 2022, as per the Khmer Times’ report. This aligns with Cambodia's ambitious goal: by 2050, they target 40% of cars and urban buses and 70% of motorbikes to be electric.

Electric mopeds are gaining traction in urban settings like Phnom Penh. Innovations like Oyika’s Go2 app exemplify this trend, allowing users to rent and conveniently park electric scooters for subsequent users. As this movement grows, residents and tourists can soon expect to see electric tuk-tuks in Phnom Penh, echoing Cambodia's commitment to sustainable transportation.

This surge results from targeted governmental initiatives, amplified by support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Together, they're paving the way for a more eco-friendly transport future by rolling out charging stations across the country.

Energy-efficient operations

Cambodia's logistical sectors are gravitating towards renewable energy, notably solar power, given the country's geographical advantage. Averaging eight sunlit hours daily, with solar irradiance of 5 kWh/m2, Cambodia's solar potential surpasses neighbours like Thailand and Vietnam and even outstrips European benchmarks like Germany, as highlighted by a report by Kiri Post.

This solar prowess has spurred an estimated US$903 million investment opportunity in solar photovoltaic (PV) in Cambodia, as per the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Cambodian government has responded with forward-thinking policies, including potential reductions in capacity charges for rooftop PV systems. However, current regulations remain a hindrance for many factories, limiting the broader adoption of solar solutions. For Cambodia to fully harness its renewable potential, regulatory refinements are essential.

Public transport innovations

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) has spearheaded the transformative "Electric Bus Fleet as Public Service" project in Siem Reap City, as reported by the Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA). This is a strategic move to introduce electric buses as a primary public transportation method, aiming to boost both eco-friendly connectivity and economic development.

It is deeply rooted in the national and subnational agendas that prioritise smart, green initiatives. The essence of the project not only seeks to address environmental concerns but also ensures that public transport remains an efficient means of commuting for its citizens.

Challenges and opportunities

Transitioning to sustainable transport isn't without its challenges. Infrastructure development, initial investment costs, and the need for public and private sector collaboration can sometimes slow down the pace of green initiatives. However, these challenges also present unparalleled opportunities.

Overcoming infrastructure hurdles, for instance, can open doors for international investment, positioning Cambodia as a leader in sustainable transport in the region. Embracing green logistics can also offer Cambodian businesses a competitive edge, appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers and partners globally.

DHL Express' contribution to sustainable transport

As Cambodia continues its push for sustainable transportation, DHL Express stands in support, bringing its globally recognised green initiatives to the forefront of the Cambodian logistics landscape. 

Central to DHL's green logistics strategy is the GoGreen programme, which aims to achieve zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. Additionally, with GoGreen Plus, we offer eco-friendly shipping options that aid businesses in reducing their carbon footprint. We enable a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) instead of traditional aircraft fuel. SAF's significance cannot be overstated – made from environmentally conscious feedstocks like used cooking oil or waste-derived hydrogen, SAF can curtail lifecycle emissions of regular aviation fuels by up to 80%. This commitment to carbon neutrality is visible on the ground as well, with over 100 million last-mile kilometres driven by electric vehicles and 86% of their electricity sourced from renewables. 

For Cambodian businesses partnering with DHL Express, it's not just about accessing top-tier international logistics solutions but also aligning with eco-friendly, industry-leading sustainable practices. From exploring eco-friendly packaging to building sustainable supply chains, find out how your business can lead the charge.