THE ROAD TO ZERO

The road to zero…paved with innovation

n the UK earlier this year, the government launched the Road to Zero Strategy. Inside this proposal document, alongside their strategy for increasing the general public’s adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles (consumer-side), the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) have outlined their plan to reduce emissions from HGVs and road freight. 

The initiative’s four main points of action include: 

  • Introducing a new voluntary industry-supported commitment to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025, from 2015 levels
  • Launching a joint research project with Highways England to identify and assess zero emission technologies suitable for HGVs
  • To work with industry to develop an ultra-low emission standard for trucks 
  • Undertaking further emissions testing of the latest natural gas HGVs to gather evidence that will inform decisions on future government policy and support for natural gas as a potential near-term, lower emission fuel for HGVs.

The first point was easy enough to conquer at first: the guide for reducing emissions by 15% over the decade up to 2025 was voluntary, but indeed it was difficult to argue with. More difficult, however, is a very recent vote undertaken this November 2018 by the European Parliament which favoured a mandatory cut in CO2 emissions by 20% in new trucks by 2025. This is a much steeper rate of change and means that timescales for R&D and manufacturing in the industry could be significantly disrupted. The vote accompanied a mandatory target of 5% of all truck sales to be zero emissions by the same date.  

Erik Jonnaert, secretary general for the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), responded to the vote, described the original targets as “already very challenging.” 

A statement from ACEA welcomed ‘in principle’ the Commission’s proposal to incentivise zero- and low-emissions trucks via ‘super-credits’, but Jonnaert claims that MEPs are   blatantly ignoring the fact that the potential for electrifying the truck fleet is far lower than for cars, due to issues such as extremely high upfront costs, range limitations, insufficient infrastructure – particularly along motorways – as well as reluctant customers. The R&D and production processes of the European truck industry would be negatively affected by these targets, for which the short lead time simply doesn’t match the long development cycles for trucks. 

Despite the pushback, ACEA and other freight associations are in support of the decarbonization of the industry, although criticism remains around the timescales of the Road to Zero Strategy. At the time of writing, there has been no public update on the partnership between the Department for Transport and Highways England, with regard to the progress of their research.  

OLEV have undoubtedly had significant wins. The office supported the world’s first Zero Emissions Vehicle Summit held in London this September, which was hosted by the Prime Minister. The summit, held in Birmingham, brought participants from around the world to discuss collective aims for a cleaner future, and saw the Clean Van Commitment signed by 16 of the UK’s largest van fleet operators, vowing to go completely zero emission in cities by 2028.

With various deadlines for emissions targets looming, along with the newly implemented Clean Air Zones across the United Kingdom, and the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in London in 2019, it is no surprise that many companies with budget to spend are already converting their processes to the more carbon neutral. 

Next up, we take a trip to Freight in the City and speak to the founder of one such company, Gnewt Cargo, about their journey, achievements and future goals.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine  

The road to zero…paved with innovation

n the UK earlier this year, the government launched the Road to Zero Strategy. Inside this proposal document, alongside their strategy for increasing the general public’s adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles (consumer-side), the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) have outlined their plan to reduce emissions from HGVs and road freight. 

The initiative’s four main points of action include: 

  • Introducing a new voluntary industry-supported commitment to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025, from 2015 levels
  • Launching a joint research project with Highways England to identify and assess zero emission technologies suitable for HGVs
  • To work with industry to develop an ultra-low emission standard for trucks 
  • Undertaking further emissions testing of the latest natural gas HGVs to gather evidence that will inform decisions on future government policy and support for natural gas as a potential near-term, lower emission fuel for HGVs.

The first point was easy enough to conquer at first: the guide for reducing emissions by 15% over the decade up to 2025 was voluntary, but indeed it was difficult to argue with. More difficult, however, is a very recent vote undertaken this November 2018 by the European Parliament which favoured a mandatory cut in CO2 emissions by 20% in new trucks by 2025. This is a much steeper rate of change and means that timescales for R&D and manufacturing in the industry could be significantly disrupted. The vote accompanied a mandatory target of 5% of all truck sales to be zero emissions by the same date.  

Erik Jonnaert, secretary general for the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), responded to the vote, described the original targets as “already very challenging.” 

A statement from ACEA welcomed ‘in principle’ the Commission’s proposal to incentivise zero- and low-emissions trucks via ‘super-credits’, but Jonnaert claims that MEPs are   blatantly ignoring the fact that the potential for electrifying the truck fleet is far lower than for cars, due to issues such as extremely high upfront costs, range limitations, insufficient infrastructure – particularly along motorways – as well as reluctant customers. The R&D and production processes of the European truck industry would be negatively affected by these targets, for which the short lead time simply doesn’t match the long development cycles for trucks. 

Despite the pushback, ACEA and other freight associations are in support of the decarbonization of the industry, although criticism remains around the timescales of the Road to Zero Strategy. At the time of writing, there has been no public update on the partnership between the Department for Transport and Highways England, with regard to the progress of their research.  

OLEV have undoubtedly had significant wins. The office supported the world’s first Zero Emissions Vehicle Summit held in London this September, which was hosted by the Prime Minister. The summit, held in Birmingham, brought participants from around the world to discuss collective aims for a cleaner future, and saw the Clean Van Commitment signed by 16 of the UK’s largest van fleet operators, vowing to go completely zero emission in cities by 2028.

With various deadlines for emissions targets looming, along with the newly implemented Clean Air Zones across the United Kingdom, and the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in London in 2019, it is no surprise that many companies with budget to spend are already converting their processes to the more carbon neutral. 

Next up, we take a trip to Freight in the City and speak to the founder of one such company, Gnewt Cargo, about their journey, achievements and future goals.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine  

2019-01-04T10:04:32+00:00November 23rd, 2018|Categories: Eco Focus, Heathrow & London, Recruitment Focus|Tags: |
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