More detail needed on freight emissions reduction target

National Road Carriers is seeking more detail of the Government’s plans to cut freight emissions by 35 percent by 2035 by using low emissions trucks to transport food and other products.

The Government’s Emission Reduction Plan for transport announced today focused almost entirely on personal transport, with just one bullet point committing $20 million to accelerate the decarbonisation of freight transport.

According to the Government’s news release (headed “Transport to drive down emissions”), this will include co-funding for low-emission freight projects through a dedicated round of the Low Emissions Transport Fund delivered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and funding Te Manatū Waka / Ministry of Transport’s development of the decarbonisation aspects of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and other freight-related actions in the Emissions Reduction Plan.

National Road Carriers Chief Operating Officer James Smith says the freight transport sector needs the Government to commit to low-carbon infrastructure and provide incentives to road-freight companies to change their truck fleets.

“There are plenty of things the Government can do to encourage emissions reduction in road transport. For example, they could follow Australia’s lead by applying different depreciation rates to lower-emitting trucks.

“We also need clearer guidance regarding biofuels. And we need more investment in the infrastructure required to support alternative fuel trucks such as increasing the capacity of the electricity grid and fast charger network capable of charging trucks. We could be doing more to encourage Euro 6 standard vehicles while we wait for these alternatives to become available in this country.

“The road transport industry is fully engaged in reducing emissions. The challenge is that the technology is not commercially available yet.”

Smith said trucks are very big ticket items with line-haul vehicles typically being in the $500,000 to $1 million dollar range and are therefore long-term investments. He welcomed the announcement’s reference to lower-emission trucks being phased in by 2035 for food and other products. But we’ll be very interested in the detail on that, given the capital investment required – and the massive existing investment locked up in our current fleets.

“Trucks have a long life. They can be on the road for 30 years – five years for front-line duties before dropping down to other tasks. What is the Government doing to enable a change in this technology?”

Smith said there were other ways of reducing emissions, such as reducing congestion that reduces the time vehicles spent on the roads, along with the time spent idling in congested traffic situations.


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