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Manuscript deadline
31 December 2021

Cover image - International Journal of Production Research

International Journal of Production Research

Special Issue Editor(s)

SC Lenny Koh, The University of Sheffield, UK
[email protected]

Fu (Jeff) Jia, University of York, UK
[email protected]

Yu (Jack) Gong, University of Southampton, UK
[email protected]

Xiaoxue Zheng, Minjiang University, China
[email protected]

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Achieving Carbon Neutrality via Supply Chain Management

“Climate change” is increasingly affecting the world, significant changes such as the drastic weather patterns threaten traditional production methods, and more frequent natural disasters cause supply chain disruptions. Greenhouse gas emission caused by human activities is the culprit and it requires urgent international actions, such as that stated in the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.

Meanwhile, the landmark deal of “Paris Agreement” further advanced the importance, which aims to keep the global average temperature rise within 2°C above the pre-industrial level. “Carbon Neutrality” is one of the core elements. It emphasizes “net zero emissions”, which means that generated carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions can be offset through energy-saving and emission-reduction measures. This long-term initiative is on the rise, and more leading countries pledged to join the roadmap, aiming to achieve this goal by the middle of the 21st century (United Nations, 2020), therefore international cooperation is essential to meet the target.

“Carbon Neutrality” drives relevant academic topics of research significance, such as carbon footprint, low-carbon economy (circular economy), climate change response, green energy and low-carbon policies, sustainable strategies and ecotechnologies. Among these, physical, information and financial flows involved in supply chains, as well as production and operation activities such as manufacturing and reverse supply chains are important parts for “Carbon Neutrality”. Supply chain activities contain significant carbon emissions, and stakeholders involved are critical to achieving “carbon neutrality” (Aikins and Ramanathan, 2020). This Special Issue therefore focuses on supply chain management (SCM) perspective and explores how to achieve the carbon neutral objective through SCM with the emergence of international concerns and expectations.

Research on the low-carbon supply chain has received extensive attentions. Early research proposed the extended attention from traditional supply chain performance to carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emission considerations (Sundarakani et al., 2010; Shaw et al., 2012), which can be seen as a branch of sustainable SCM (Seuring and Müller, 2008). Some research started focusing on the supplier selection side for lower carbon performance (Hsu et al., 2013; Govindan and Sivakumar, 2016). Also, carbon emissions from logistics and transportation process have been widely focused (Tang et al., 2015; Sarkar et al., 2016). Some studies believe that the low carbon emission consideration can be triggered by consumer preferences (Ji et al., 2017; Aikins and Ramanathan, 2020), because this sustainability pursuit can enhance competitiveness (Du et al., 2015).  Furthermore, it also needs the coordination in whole supply chain networks, which requires a comprehensive consideration of stakeholders and processes (Elhedhli and Merrick, 2012; Fu and Su, 2020).

More recently, as more countries are committed to “Carbon Neutrality” goals, the carbon emission related sustainability policies are emerging, such as carbon tax policy and remanufacturing subsidy policy (Cao et al., 2020). These policies can promote wider attention among industries (Fahimnia et al., 2015; Shen et al., 2017) or even can be seen as institutional pressures for focal companies (Villena and Dhanorkar, 2020). Also, digital technologies can assist “Carbon Neutrality” achievement. For example, blockchain technology can be used to trace carbon footprints, verify green products, and even promote carbon tax trading (Saberi et al., 2019). Furthermore, carbon emission restrictions can also promote supply chain financial services, such as green credit financing, aiming to encourage green investment to achieve sustainable development (An et al., 2021); mortgage of carbon emission permits can even be used as a source of profit to improve the sustainable performance of supply chains (Cao and Yu, 2019).

It can be found that “Carbon Neutrality” is becoming a popular trend, and can be translated into related actions, which require more targeted research guidance. The combination with SCM can generate fruitful topics that are worth exploring. Although there have been rich explorations on the low-carbon supply chains in the past, exploring role of SCM in achieving “Carbon Neutrality” requires deeper research. The potential areas involved are complex and diverse, such as the policy impact; and the integration of multiple stakeholders, which may involve conflicting goals or interests. Along with Industry 4.0 wave, whether the application of innovative technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain can actually contribute to Carbon Neutrality requires more empirical as well as modelling research rather than seeing them as a panacea. Carbon neutral development in the post-Covid-19 era is full of opportunities and challenges. Also, how to define the “low-carbon economy”, the challenges and uncertainties behind, and how to assess the social dimensions beyond economic and environmental level deserve more in-depth explorations.

This IJPR Special Issue will bring together research from various perspectives on the integration of “Carbon Neutrality” and “SCM”. The overall aim of the Special Issue is to further understand the manifestation of “Carbon Neutrality” in supply chains, and to further illuminate how to achieve “Carbon Neutrality” with supply chain innovation.

We welcome submission of mixed method (e.g. modelling plus case study) and both rigorous quantitative and qualitative empirical research that apply theories in the following potential topics, but are not limited to:

  • “Carbon neutrality” initiative based empirical research in supply chains;
  • Synergies, trade-offs and tensions and cooperation among multiple stakeholders in supply chains for “carbon neutrality”;
  • Innovative business models for “carbon neutrality” or “circular economy” related supply chain management;
  • Digital transformation or digital technology applications to promote “carbon neutrality”
  • The critical assessment of innovative technology (Industry 4.0 technology) application in supply chains for “carbon neutrality”;
  • Cap and Trade, Emission trading system and green supply chain financing;
  • The role of policy impact for achieving “carbon neutrality” in supply chains;
  • Supply chain visibility related carbon transparency in supply chains;
  • Performance evaluation of applying “carbon neutrality” in real practices;
  • Strategic, ethical and cultural considerations for “carbon neutrality” in supply chains;
  • Supply chain network design for achieving “carbon neutrality”;
  • Risk management for the “carbon neutrality” governance in supply chains;
  • Sustainable strategies for developing “carbon neutrality” in supply chains;
  • The relationships between “Carbon Neutrality” and supply chain resilience;
  • Opportunities and challenges for “carbon neutrality” for post COVID-19.

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Submission Instructions

Submitting authors must indicate that their manuscript is intended for the "Achieving Carbon Neutrality via Supply Chain Management" special issue when prompted in step 5 of the submission form.

Papers submitted to the special issue will be subjected to a normal, thorough double-blind review process.

  • Manuscript to be submitted to the guest editors by: 31/12/2021
  • First review outcome by: 31/03/2022
  • First revised manuscript to be submitted to the guest editors by: 30/06/2022
  • Second review outcome by: 31/07/2022
  • Second revised manuscript to be submitted to the guest editors by: 30/09/2022
  • Final decision outcome by: 31/10/2022
  • Expected publication date of this Special Issue: 31/12/2022

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