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Is climate change capable of becoming a weak link in a supply chain?

Global warming is no longer a distant possibility; it is already having an effect on us: floods in Germany, strong heat waves in Italy, and a snowfall in Poland. These and other natural calamities can have a direct impact on the transportation of cargo from one location to another, raising the question: Could the environment become the weak link in a supply chain?

To address this question, it is crucial to understand that climate does not simply refer to air temperature, but also to atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and rainfall over the last 30 years. Climate change is caused by a variety of sources, one of which is CO2 emissions from transportation and industry. However, the situation in this area is rapidly improving as new regulatory initiatives result in technological advancements in the conventional aggregates. Additionally, new technology, such as hydrogen-powered automobiles, being created. Given that logistics is the lifeblood of the global economy, international trade would be impossible without a supply chain system that is constantly enhanced to increase the efficiency, speed, and safety of international freight movement while simultaneously safeguarding the environment and the climate. This, however, has created a vicious spiral, as climate change has a knock-on effect on the transportation and logistics sectors.

Today’s transportation business and worldwide infrastructure have adapted to current weather conditions, such that road surfaces can withstand intense heat waves and bridges can withstand protracted rainfall and rising water levels. However, as climate change progresses, the weather may become increasingly severe and unpredictable. NIKSI Firm, a transportation and logistics company, forecasts potential obstacles for the next decade. By being aware of and responding to the hazards posed by climate change, we can save time and avoid future financial and cargo losses.

Climate change is now predicted to enhance the intensity of natural catastrophes — storm damage could be more severe, rain could result in greater flooding, and heat could result in drought. It’s worth noting that import and export trends may shift in the future, since heat may reduce grain crop yields in a region where grain was formerly the top export product.

Climate change’s effect on road freight transportation

For cargo transportation to be efficient and safe, the road surface’s quality is critical. Increased air temperature may cause damage to the road surface – particularly in high-traffic locations, where the road surface may become soft, resulting in grooves and potholes. On the other side, climate change is increasing winter temperatures, which results in less ice and salt scattering. Heavy rain, as has already occurred in Germany, can result in flooding, delaying freight deliveries. Meanwhile, ice roads constructed of compressed snow or ice, which are mainly found in Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, and Canada, may eventually disappear owing to warm winters.

Consequences for road and rail transportation

Heat accelerates tire wear, whereas milder winters protect against cold damage. In the case of rail transit, heat expands the tracks, necessitating more frequent track repairs, speed restrictions, and even infrastructure modifications. The movement of a cargo train can also be harmed if debris is washed out on the railway as a result of severe flooding.

Climate change’s effect on air freight

The effect on air traffic

High air temperatures can impair aircraft performance, resulting in flight delays or cancellations. Storms and flooding can potentially cause cargo planes to be unable to take off. Simultaneously, the requirement for additional aircraft maintenance, such as defrosting, will be diminished throughout the winter.

Climate change’s effect on seaborne freight transport

The effect on ship traffic

Climate change has the potential to reduce the number of glaciers along critical shipping routes, hence boosting sea levels. This could result in even larger ships in the future, perhaps lowering delivery costs. However, climate change may result in worse storms, disrupting not only container traffic but also domestic freight movement via rivers. Arctic glaciers are melting as a result of global warming, which will significantly alter trade routes by water – marine routes will become larger, allowing for even faster cargo deliveries. For example, the Northern Sea Route may be utilized to move commodities from Asia to Europe in place of the Suez Canal. Climate change may necessitate the reconstruction of coastal infrastructure, as well as the improvement of port equipment and docks.

In general, climate change may result in more frequent road surface updates, rebuilt bridges to accommodate potential flooding, and some infrastructural upgrades. It is critical to adapt to climate change and be able to respond to out-of-the-ordinary occurrences. While climate change does have some positive aspects, such as warmer winters and improved ship transportation, several hazards might result in financial losses. NIKSI Group, a transportation and logistics company, offers cargo insurance that includes coverage for natural disasters. With cargo insurance, you can rest assured that you will receive the full value of your damaged goods if it is damaged by floods, storms, or other natural disasters.