With new studies seemingly published daily on the effects of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, it’s no wonder that road transport is getting a green-themed makeover. And yet, even with pressure increasing for haulage companies and other sectors of the transport industry to go green, progress hasn’t been as rapid as some would have hoped. New studies show that the freight industry has been hesitant to adopt low emission vehicles and other environmentally-friendly technologies – sometimes due to lack of information about their benefits. |
An International Problem
The slow progress toward the adoption of greener practices is an issue throughout Europe. A survey conducted by automotive intelligence body GiPA shows that only thirteen percent of fleet managers in Europe’s ‘big five’ truck markets have changed brands in order to get better fuel efficiency. For the top two biggest markets (France and Germany), that number stands at just three percent.
So what’s going on? A number of things: fuel economy levels in new trucks have been virtually stagnant over the last two decades. That means that haulage companies’ fleets aren’t getting more efficient (or more environmentally friendly). Part of this stagnation is due to price fixing and deliberate delays of the introduction of new technology on the part of Europe’s truck manufacturers. A push toward greener freight means a total fleet overhaul – and that means huge investment for haulage companies and automobile manufacturers alike.
In recent years, increased pressure from lawmakers has made it even more essential that the freight industry cleans up its act, so to speak. The EU’s 2030 climate targets are drawing closer, as well as the more challenging targets of the Paris climate deal. Meeting those targets will require a concerted effort on the part of the road haulage industry. To put it in perspective, consider that trucks make up five percent of all vehicles on the road, but they account for a whopping 25% of road transport’s fuel use and carbon emissions. That means a large part of the emission reduction efforts falls on haulage companies, auto manufacturers, and other players in the logistics industry.
Fortunately, several clean haulage schemes are in the works or in the process of already being implemented right here in the UK. In January of this year, former Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London launched the LoCity Initiative. The programme engages with freight and fleet operators and vehicle manufacturers to boost the availability and adoption of low-emission commercial vehicles operating in London. The programme also aims to improve air quality for Londoners as well as prepare the freight industry for the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020.
With the international spotlight being on environmental issues, the freight industry seems to be teetering on the brink of a big, green change. A bit more publicity and public awareness might be all it takes to start haulage’s bright, clean future.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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