Diesel HGVs should be making way for hydrogen and battery alternatives, to reduce the climate impact of freight, a new report has said.
According to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) , government should be looking to ban the sale of new diesel HGV lorries no later than 2040 so the freight industry is prepared and ready to invest in greener technologies.
NIC chair Sir John Armitt believes clean technology alternatives like hydrogen are “well advanced”, meaning there is no excuse for ministers to not set out how they plan to support the transition within the next two years.
Action is said to be needed now with worsening congestion and thus increasing emissions expected. The report says heavy freight will increase by between 27% and 45%, with the number of miles covered by vans delivering goods increasing by as much as 89% over the same period as the demand for internet shopping increases.
The ban on new sales of diesel HGVs should also be part of wider efforts to support the entire road and rail freight industry to become carbon-free by 2050, according to the commission.
To improve collaboration, the NIC also wants to see government and industry come together through a new Freight Leadership Council which would meet bi-annually and bring together representatives from all freight transport types and parts of the supply chain, as well as from the Department for Transport.
Commenting on the report, Armitt, said: “Whether it’s retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers, we all rely heavily on our freight industry. As one of the most efficient in the world, it rarely fails to deliver. But we are paying the price for this miracle of modern service through the impact on our environment and air quality, and through congestion on our roads. Government must act to help businesses tackle these issues.”
A stark warning within the report concludes that if no action is taken then freight on road and rail could be responsible for around a fifth of all allowed emissions by 2050 – with the sector only making up around 9% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions today.
Commissioner Bridget Rosewell added: “Heavy goods traffic on our roads could increase sharply over the coming decades, and distances covered by light goods vehicles like vans could come close to doubling. Clear, decisive action - including a ban on new diesel HGV sales and tackling emissions from rail freight – is needed now if we’re to have a zero carbon freight industry by 2050.”
Research published today comes after chancellor Philip Hammond charged the commission with examining the future of the freight industry in November 2017. He wanted to understand how government could help companies get their goods to the front door or factory gate faster and more efficiently.