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Lionel Curtis shares chilling trends from the CCF Climate Summit

Lionel Curtis shares chilling trends from the CCF Climate Summit

Following the second Cold Chain Federation (CCF) Climate Summit, Marshall Fleet Solutions’ Head of Future Products Lionel Curtis shares several trends that are shaping how the transport refrigeration industry thinks about climate change.


Lionel Curtis | Head of Future Products | Marshall Fleet Solutions

As Head of Future Products for Marshall Fleet Solutions, Lionel Curtis is responsible for the packaging and compliance of the company’s 100% solar-powered Titan refrigeration systems, while working across the broader Marshall Group with a view to sharing promising technologies across sectors.

Lionel is well known within the trailer industry, having worked for various trailer builders and system providers for roughly 15 years. He has been involved in designing and developing hybrid and electric cars, vans, taxis, buses and trucks, giving him excellent insight into the challenges associated with the decarbonisation of road transport.

Upon leaving school aged 15, Lionel’s first job was within the UK MoD was at a rocketry establishment, so he is confident when he says that decarbonisation of road transport isn’t rocket science…

Now in its second year, the CCF Climate Summit has remained a bustling forum of ideas around cold chain sustainability. It is also the backdrop for the annual Sustainability Awards, where our revolutionary Titan solar energy system picked up the inaugural Innovators of the Year in Transport award last year.

In line with its ongoing research and advocacy across our sector, this year CCF released a manifesto outlining plans to work in partnership with the UK government to ensure the cold chain is properly represented when tackling industry relevant issues. After all, the sector is currently worth an estimated £8.5 billion per year, and this figure is predicted to grow to £12.5 billion by 2028. This growth is only possible if government and industry make a concerted effort to extend the current infrastructure to meet the growing need.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Tim Fox, an internationally renowned climate change mitigation consultant, who explained how the cold chain could potentially adapt to a fundamentally warmer world. In order to combat problems such as the decrease in plant yields of 6-7% for each 1°c above seasonal mean temperatures, as well as the effect of rising global temperatures on animal health, Dr. Fox highlighted the urgent need for innovation and development of new technology.

Although we should obviously do everything we can in order to reduce overall emissions, we must also put measures in place that let us withstand and mitigate the effects of rising temperatures. After all, we are already exceeding the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature increase limit, with the current figure standing at 2.8°C.

From a food production and transport refrigeration standpoint, there are many ways to successfully reduce produce loss and lessen breakdown of current cooling solutions, such as development of heat- and drought-resilient vegetation and designing cooling systems that can operate in extremely hot or cold environments. Furthermore, electricity and gas supply cooling are not currently considered a critical part of national infrastructure; this needs to change, as without considerable temperature management the distribution of vital goods like food and pharmaceuticals will grind to a halt.

Another interesting point was raised by Georgios Tetradis-Mairis, the head of R&D Futures. Citing research by frozen food heavyweight Nomad Foods (the business behind such as BirdsEye, Aunt Bessies and Findus), Tetradis-Mairis noted that a relatively minor 3°C increase in storage temperature from -18°C to -15°C could reduce energy consumption by roughly 10% without impacting the quality, nutritional value or packaging integrity of frozen food. This could be achieved relatively easily, since current regulations in the UK only require “quick frozen food” to be stored at -18°C or below, meaning in many cases we could simply change the established “norm” rather than requiring a change in regulations. In addition to saving energy, this minor adjustment could also cut costs by putting less pressure on refrigeration components.

Many attendees and speakers at the Climate Summit also discussed different approaches to government support, such as incentivising distribution network operators (DNO) to invest in renewable options through rebates and other sustainability-centric subsidies—although at the same time it was broadly accepted that this may continue to prove challenging in practice, due to the current economic climate.

Other promising ideas included route optimisation and planning for EVs—a particularly important consideration given their (perceived or real) range limitations. For example, most supermarket chains only allow a strict 30 minute delivery window for each supplier, with the result that an early or late delivery may need to be rescheduled around other supplier slots. By contrast, a large percentage of DNOs are able to precisely plan their operations, with an estimated 98.6% accuracy, to meet these deadlines which infers a high level of planning. This same effort could be applied to planning routes that accommodate EV charging, should the infrastructure be there to support the growing requirements.

Overall, this year’s CCF Climate Summit was an enlightening event with a positive, collaborative atmosphere, and it was encouraging to speak with so many other industry professionals about the challenges our sector is facing. We know what we need to do to reduce emissions drastically, but there is a mountain of innovation required and more conversations around implementation that need to be had.

At this point we are starting to fully grasp what climate change means for the refrigeration and transport logistics sector; however, we now need to further discuss how we make realistic changes. A terrific start for any refrigerated fleet operator on the path to attaining their environmental goals is to look at alternative power solutions for their units, such as Marshall Fleet Solutions’ Titan system or HVO fuels.

If you’d like to learn more about our sustainable refrigeration technologies, visit our dedicated page.


Note: The CCF is a not-for-profit trade body that represents many of the UK’s cold chain businesses with over 278 members operating in excess of 450 specialist storage facilities and over 40,000 refrigerated vehicles across the United Kingdom. The CCF’s activities include liaising with the UK government on behalf of the sector and providing opportunities for collaboration between groups and businesses within the industry.