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COP26: government confirms phase out dates for new diesel HGVs

It was exactly one year ago (18 November 2020) that the Prime Minister set out his plan for what he described a “green industrial revolution”, to tackle climate change and transition to a net zero economy.

The plan included confirmation that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans had been brought forward by ten years from 2040 to 2030, and that the government would also launch a consultation on the phase out of new diesel HGVs.

That consultation was finally published eight months later in July, alongside the government’s long-awaited Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Finally, industry had some concrete dates to focus on. The consultation proposed the date of 2040 to end the sale of all new non-zero emission (at the tailpipe) HGVs, with the sale of lighter non-zero emission HGVs (under 26 tonnes) to end from 2035.


On Transport Day (10 November 2021) at the COP26 international conference last week, with the eyes of the world upon it, the UK Government confirmed that all new HGVs in the UK will be zero-emission by 2040. The UK will also become the first country in the world to commit to phasing out new, non-zero emission HGVs under 26 tonnes by 2035. Given that the heavier end of the commercial fleet is widely held to be the most difficult segment to decarbonise, these proposed phase-out dates are extremely ambitious. However, while the zero-emission technology is still being developed by manufacturers, it is expected that these dates will ultimately be achievable.

But Britain does not stand alone. Fifteen countries at COP26 agreed to work together toward 100% zero-emission new truck sales by 2040. Under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy Duty Vehicles (ZE-MHDVs).


Reaction from the logistics sector has been largely supportive. Many larger logistics players, such as the retailer John Lewis Partnership and parcel courier DPDgroup have already been preparing for the transition to zero-emission fleets.

Olly Craughan, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at DPDgroup UK Ltd, said his company totally supported ending the sale of new, non-zero emission HGVs in the UK by 2035, as it did ending the sale of new non-zero emission vans by 2030. “We would urge all parties involved in the supply of alternative green HGVs to press the fast forward button on their development plans so businesses like ourselves can make the transition as soon as possible,” he said, “DPD is one of the brands leading the way on the decarbonisation of fleets but bringing down the cost of green HGVs and creating adequate supply will be essential to the UK hitting this target.”

The vehicle leasing sector too, is supportive of the move. Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), said that while he looked forward to working with the government on the delivery plan, the approach must be comprehensive, particularly around HGVs, where the barriers remain huge.

“The recent funding that was announced to support trials of zero emission technology for the sector is a very positive step,” he said, “and we eagerly await the clarity this will bring to help meet the phase-out dates.”

Logistics UK’s policy position also supports the confirmation of the phase-out dates for non-zero emission HGVs.

“The announcement of phase out dates for new, non-zero emission HGVs at the tailpipe, such as those run on diesel, will help provide logistics businesses and manufacturers with much-needed certainty on the industry’s path to decarbonisation,” said Michelle Gardner, Head of Public Policy, Logistics UK.

However, support for these dates is conditional upon the government providing the right support. “Our members need to see a nationwide network of recharging and refuelling infrastructure put in place,” she said, “effective and affordable vehicles made readily available for all, and fairer charging arrangements for the necessary power upgrades to commercial premises.”


As certain specialist HGVs present additional challenges in the move to zero tailpipe emission vehicles, Gardner expressed disappointment that low carbon fuelled vehicles, such as trucks that run on biomethane, will not be available for sale after 2040.

“These fuels can act as effective, interim solutions while the technology for zero tailpipe emission HGVs matures; many of our members are keen to utilise these low-carbon alternatives. Logistics UK is therefore urging the government to give confidence to operators looking to invest in low carbon fuels through tax incentives and a clear policy framework.”


Published On: 18/11/2021 16:00:40


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