Zero emission plans and their possible impact on the courier industry
With road traffic accounting for 10% of the global emissions in 2020 (Transport – UN Climate Change Conference, 2021), it is not surprising that an entire day of this year’s two week climate change conference has been dedicated to transport. The day presented an opportunity for leading international experts in transportation and environmental change to discuss the challenges and possible solutions involved in a global transition to a significant reduction in emissions by the year 2050. With 770 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2e been produced by Britain alone, the UN voiced that the stark need for the UK to push forward remits and changes that will be in congruence with the stipulations set out in the Paris agreement (April, 2016); as not just necessary, but paramount.
So how will these changes affect the courier and haulage industry? A study by NGO Transport and Environment (T&E) highlighted that to achieve the goal of decarbonising heavy-goods vehicles (HGV) by 2050, sale of new regional delivery diesel lorries below 26 tonnes (7.5 tonne, 12 tonne, 18tonne) will need to be phased out by at 2035 by the latest. This could be met through a target of new generation electric delivery Lorries. The report emphasised that for large articulated vehicles (26 tonne Lorries and above) , sale of new diesel lorries required for pallet delivery, transportation of building supplies and long haulage vehicles will be phased out by 2040. However, as well meaning as these new steps may be, the growing demand for freight transport coupled with the recent haulage crises could mean that reducing the fuel consumption of diesel Lorries may only save the UK 20% of road freight and haulage greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In a recent article on www.transportenvironment.org , Greg Archer the UK director at T&E stated “Achieving the UK’s climate goals will require lorries to be zero emission by 2050. An end to new diesel Lorries during the 2030’s is both necessary and feasible by electrifying a new generation of vehicles. But this transition needs to start without further delay. There is therefore an urgent need to begin rolling out the charging infrastructure to support urban and regional deliveries.”
With such an extensive change at both a national and international level, due to an industry that’s economic framework is based on diesel and petrol prices, a total and permanent phase out of the combustion engine to be replaced by high-powered hydro–cell heavy good vehicles may change the face of the industry. Comprehensive and dynamic steps need to be taken to protect the industry and ensure that the transition in its attempts to save the cut fuel emission does not also fragment the scaffold of a service that is the backbone of the UK’s economy.