United Parcel Service – Set Science Based Targets (2023)

Outcome: The proposal received a vote of 20.4% at the annual meeting.

Whereas: In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change updated the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to advise that net carbon emissions must fall 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to limit warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, thereby preventing the worst consequences of climate change.

Climate change poses risks to United Parcel Service (UPS). Exceeding 1.5 degrees is predicted to increase sea level rise, severe heat waves, floods, and hurricanes, which may lead to shipping delays, including from washed out roadways,[1] deterioration of bridge infrastructure,[2] and buckling[3] and flooding of airport runways.[4] Shipping delays related to unpredictable weather cost US trucking companies $8.5 billion[5] and global air cargo companies $1 billion,[6] annually. By 2050, projections show heat waves costing the US economy $500 billion annually in lost labor productivity,[7] and extreme heat has already led to the tragic deaths of several UPS drivers.[8]

As an integrated freight and logistics company, UPS contributes significantly to climate change. The transportation sector is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.[9] Internal combustion engine medium and heavy-duty vehicles have significant adverse health impacts that disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.[10]

Whereas peers FedEx and Amazon have set goals for electric vehicle procurement, UPS’s goals for its ground fleet rely on alternative fuel, which unnecessarily prolongs potential emissions and bolsters fossil fuel infrastructure.[11]

While UPS has announced a goal to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations by 2050 and a 50 percent reduction in emissions per small package delivered by 2035, UPS has not set a goal that covers its scope 3 emissions, which represent 54 percent of its overall footprint.[12] Additionally, shareholders do not know whether UPS plans on achieving net zero through actual emissions reductions or through the purchase of carbon offsets.

Given the risks climate change poses to the economy, environment, employees, and other stakeholders, proponents believe UPS has a responsibility to its investors and stakeholders to adopt greenhouse gas reduction goals aligned with a 1.5 degrees scenario. Independently verified, science-based goals covering scopes 1-3 would provide shareholders with objective assurance that UPS is doing its part to reduce emissions in a comprehensive and timely manner. Peer DHL and 46 other air freight transportation and logistics companies have committed to set targets via the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

Resolved: Shareholders request that UPS adopt independently verified short and long-term science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, inclusive of emissions from its full value chain, in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, and to attain appropriate emissions reductions prior to 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Supporting Statement:

We recommend, at management’s discretion, consideration of approaches used by advisory groups such as SBTi.

[1] https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-transportation_.html


[3] https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/07/18/eu-runways-melt-britain-paris-parks-open-heat-wave-europe/1791658170654/

[4] https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-transportation_.html

[5] https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/3384,60.

[6] https://www.tomorrow.io/blog/the-air-freight-industry-has-a-billion-dollar-weather-question-and-the-answer-is-now/

[7] https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Extreme-Heat-Report-2021.pdf

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/20/business/ups-postal-workers-heat-stroke-deaths.html

[9] https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/flow/fossil-fuel-spaghettichart-2021.pdf

[10] https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/06/29/climate-change-racism/

[11] https://www.sightline.org/2021/03/09/the-four-fatal-flaws-of-renewable-natural-gas/

[12] https://about.ups.com/content/dam/upsstories/assets/reporting/sustainability-2021/2021%20UPS%20GRI%20Report.pdf

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