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Is net zero possible by 2050? Interview with Michelle Gardner, Head of Public Policy, Logistics UK

Applications are now open for Logistics UK’s brand-new environmental initiative, Route to Net Zero, where the business group is asking its members to commit to decarbonising their operations as quickly, effectively and as urgently as possible to help the UK achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The campaign is spearheaded by Michelle Gardner, Logistics UK’s Head of Public Policy, who has more than 15 years’ experience in policy and public affairs, including roles at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

The UK has until 2050 to transition to a net zero emission economy: what are some of the biggest challenges facing logistics on this journey? 

Technology and infrastructure are two of the industry’s greatest challenges: while logistics businesses understand the urgency of the climate crisis and are keen to decarbonise their operations, the solutions must be available for them to do so.  

We are seeing great strides in technology innovation across all modes – for example, electric vans are almost a regular sight on our roads – but industry and government do not have all the answers and it is not always certain which technologies and fuels will best support businesses, while producing a net zero impact on the environment. And companies must have confidence that the supporting infrastructure – such as refuelling stations stocked with alternative fuels – will be readily available for them to be able to utilise the solutions that come to market. 

Through our Route to Net Zero campaign, Logistics UK is communicating with government what industry needs; this is essential for our members to reach net zero successfully.  

What are some of the most innovative examples of decarbonisation initiatives you have seen?  

There are some incredible, inspiring projects out there – such as a Eviation’s all-electric aircraft, which is now part of DHL’s fleet – and it is always rewarding to see our members lead the way in adopting these new technologies. As an industry, we need to move faster and harder towards net zero, but we must also recognise and celebrate the small wins too, like companies taking steps to improve fuel efficiency and seeing their emissions fall. 

What support does the industry need most from government?  

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan, published in July 2021, set out the government’s route map to move the industry to net zero. The plan offered clarity and certainty on many aspects of the sector’s decarbonisation journey, but key elements – including plans for infrastructure to support the use of alternatively fuelled HGVs –- were missing. In addition to clear guidance, industry needs financial incentives to make the shift to low carbon technologies attainable for businesses of all sizes. 

How is Logistics UK helping its members to decarbonise their operations? 

To help the government and policymakers understand how it can help industry realise the net zero ambition, Logistics UK published its Route to Net Zero Logistics policy briefing paper at the Innovation and Technology in Transport (ITT Hub) event in June 2021, which lays out seven key priorities to decarbonise the industry successfully. Now, we are developing a more comprehensive policy manifesto ahead of COP26 in November 2021; this document will build on the existing paper and will provide more detailed recommendations and steps that are needed to make net zero a reality for logistics as quickly as possible.   

In addition to working with government and other stakeholders closely, we are supporting members through the Route to Net Zero commitment. 

How can members sign up to the Route to Net Zero commitment? 

It is easy to apply – just visit the webpage logistics.org.uk/environment/netzero and download an application form; once completed, email it over to myself (mgardner@logistics.org.uk), along with a copy of your company’s CSR/Environmental Report. Once you have been accepted, we will be in touch with your pledge certificate, and if you want to, information on how to promote your involvement, and help Logistics UK with its environmental campaign work. 

What are your predictions for the next decade? 

We are seeing a strong drive from logistics businesses to decarbonise their operations, so I expect to see huge progress in this space. While we do need the right support from government to make this a reality, Logistics UK is doing everything it can to communicate the industry’s needs. Beyond enabling us to reach net zero by 2050, technology will change logistics in a variety of ways, driven by the endless goal of greater efficiency and sustainability.  

To sign up to Logistics UK’s Route to Net Zero commitment, where you can pledge publicly to decarbonise your operations as quickly, effectively and as urgently as possible to help the UK achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, please visit the link below.


Published On: 23/09/2021 16:00:45


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