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New reports point way ahead for freight and fuels in low carbon transition

Thu 30 January 2020 | Back to news list

The Road Haulage Association has set out its general approach to decarbonising the freight and logistics sector, calling on the Government to develop a 'freight roadmap' towards net zero and develop consistent, supportive policies to "give our members confidence to plan for a green future". Meanwhile, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has published a separate report which focuses on the importance of using cleaner fuels in IC-engines to support the electric transition. 
The RHA's policy paper calls on the new Government to develop a freight roadmap "which delivers the stepping stones needed to achieve a net zero carbon future".
It says that "the issue of decarbonising freight needs a coherent international and national response and it is vital that the freight and logistics sector is on the front foot to shape the reforms necessary".
RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “How the change is managed politically and economically over the next 25 years will be challenging. Our strategy sets out an approach that will ensure that sensible, evidence-based and pragmatic policies are in place to support investment in the green technology needed.
“The time for talking about the environment is over. We need clear global action to tackle climate change, and I am determined that the UK logistics sector will do its bit."
The RHA paper describes the introduction of clean air zones as "policy mis-steps which have undermined trust and must be avoided”.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers new report 'Accelerating Road Transport Decarbonisation' urges the Government not to forget the contribution that it says low carbon fuels will need to make in the transition to net zero.
The report makes three specific recommendations:
  • A move to E10 10% bioethanol in petrol pumps and B7 in diesel pumps, to help to rapidly decarbonise the many millions of internal combustion engines already running on conventional fossil fuels as soon as possible.
  • The adoption of a life cycle approach for all Government policy relating to fuels and transport. 
  • Substantial investment (similar to that provided for battery electric vehicles and charging infrastructure) in sustainable and low carbon fuel development and associated internal combustion engine technology levelling the playing field across low carbon technologies. 
LowCVP continues to advocate the introduction and use of sustainable lower carbon fuels to decarbonise the existing fleet as we transition to electric mobility. However, diverting focus to ICEs and low emission fuels for such engines must not hold back the electric transition.
The RTFO has a 2020 target for 10% of transport energy to be derived from renewable sources. The LowCVP-facilitated Transport Energy Taskforce identified areas of challenge whilst also proposing the use of high blend biofuels, and greater use of renewable alternative fuels as a complementary measure, as the means to meet the target.
Demand-side incentives were advocated by the Taskforce: clear information and recognition of the role the fuels play in positive messaging for fleets, particularly relating to the commercial vehicle (CV) sector.
LowCVP proposed two complementary measures to address these issues: development of a Low Carbon Fuel Assurance Scheme and a Renewable Fuels Guide aimed at CV fleets.
The Renewable Fuels Guide will be published soon. It will be aimed at commercial vehicle operators and disseminated via FORS, FTA, RHA, EST, TfL and local authority networks.

Related news: In a separate, earlier announcement, the Government announced two more of the projects which will be funded under the £20 million Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition (F4C).

KEW Projects and Rika Biogas have been awarded a share of £6.5 million to build plants which aim to provide fuel for heavy goods vehicles. The project at KEW will also begin research which could pave the way for low carbon aviation fuel. 

A further 2 projects, which are being funded under the £25 million Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition (ABDC), are also driving towards their final stages of development. This includes Nova Pangaea Technologies, who will focus on the production of bio-ethanol from wood waste that can be blended with existing petrol used in road transport.

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