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Route to Net Zero

Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy, Logistics UK

The government’s much anticipated Transport decarbonisation plan was announced on 14 July. In 2019, the UK Government legislated to set a net zero emissions target by 2050 and in April 2021, accepted the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation to set the Sixth Carbon Budget at a 78% reduction by 2035. As transport is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases (GHG) we recognise that the logistics sector plays an important role in helping to reach these targets.

The new plan set out consultations and proposals across all modes of freight, and included a consultation on the phase-out dates for new diesel Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). Last week Road Council discussed the proposition that from 2035 all new HGVs below 26 tonnes should be zero tailpipe emissions, and 2040 for those above 26 tonnes.

If I look back over the last two decades, the logistics sector is well on its journey to Net Zero and some excellent progress has been made since the Euro 1 emission standards were introduced in 1992. The Euro 6 emission standards for light-duty vehicles, including vans and Euro VI for heavy-duty vehicles, introduced in 2015 require the greatest emission reductions of any previous stage along the European regulatory pathway.

New standards and cleaner fuels have helped to contribute to a 5% reduction in HGV CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2019, despite the increase in the number of vehicles on the road and miles driven – going from 15.5 billion to 17.1 billion miles between 2012 and 2018, an increase of 10%.

There is still plenty more progress to be made and we know from our Logistics UK Industry Survey 2020/21 that the sector places “providing incentives for alternative fuels and carbon reduction” in their top three priorities for government policy. We also know that almost half of member vehicles (49.2% for HGV and 49.4% for vans) are meeting Euro VI/6 standards. Many operators are continuing to invest in lower carbon fuels and technologies, are changing business practices and instilling good driver behaviours through training, as well as a range of other measures. With more than 6,000 new ULEV light goods vehicles, HGVs, and buses and coaches registered in the UK in 2020, we are confident that decarbonisation is on top of the agenda and the industry is moving in the right direction to meet the Net Zero targets. The fantastic array of hydrogen and electric vehicles on display at the ITT Hub last month showed how close our Net Zero future has become.

To support the sector, Logistics UK has launched the Route to Net Zero campaign to identify what logistics needs to succeed in the ambition to achieve net zero emissions. We have extremely strong environment leads in my team, including qualified environmental professionals and specialists in van, urban and environmental policy. They are working closely with members and across government departments to highlight the policy framework, infrastructure and incentives that are needed to achieve net zero. As part of the campaign, my team will be launching a comprehensive policy manifesto ahead of COP26 in November to ensure the industry’s voice is heard.

Given the urgency of addressing climate change, we are asking our members to commit to our net zero campaign and come on the journey with us. We’re ambitious in our plans, but we have thought long and hard about doing the right thing and if we look at what we have achieved already, with our commitment and the right government support, we are confident that our sector can meet this.

As more members are looking for guidance and support to achieve their decarbonisation goals, Logistics UK will create a resource hub with relevant content, tools and good practice case studies. We will be developing this over the coming months, with support from members and the organisations we work closely with. Our ask of you is to make your commitment to achieving net zero, engage with us on your barriers to making change and support us as we work with government and policymakers to implement practical solutions. And to come to the ITT Hub on 11/12 May next year in Farnborough to see the future of sustainable road freight come to life.


Published On: 22/07/2021 16:00:24


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