The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has released a report on the eve of COP28 [29 November] outlining how the slow transition from diesel to zero carbon trucks (ZET) is exacerbating climate breakdown.
The decarbonisation of the freight and logistics sector, which contributed £127 billion to the UK economy in 2022, is critical to achieving the UK government’s net zero goals.
The report, entitled ‘Delivering Net Zero’, states that road transport is the largest contributor to UK domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 24% of all domestic emissions. Half of these emissions come from the use of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The combination of these pollutants is responsible for more than 40,000 excess deaths in the UK every year, according to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
The UK government has committed to end the sale of new diesel HGVs weighing 26 tonnes and under by 2035, with all new HGVs sold in the UK needing to be zero-emission at the exhaust from 2040. 30% of all heavy-duty vehicles sold in the UK (including coaches and buses) will be zero-emission by 2030.
Currently, the UK government offers a grant for low-emission trucks: £16,000 for small trucks (between 4.25 and 12 tonnes gross weight) and £25,000 for large trucks (over 12 tonnes gross weight). There are currently no grants available for fully-electric HGVs, something the report recommends creating to increase electric vehicle (EV) uptake.
For the entire UK HGV fleet to be replaced with zero-emission trucks (ZETs), the GFI estimates that it would cost between £41-£75bn, with the installation of depot infrastructure potentially costing an additional £24bn. If the government were to add public electric charge points, as the report suggests, the total cost could be as high as £100bn.
Whilst this represents a significant cost, the report also estimates that the transition to fully EV HGVs could create a £100bn investment opportunity in the UK. However, failure to provide the supporting infrastructure puts the transition to a zero-emission road freight and logistics sector at risk.
The accelerated pace of public EV adoption over the last few years could also stand to benefit the freight sector. Public EV ownership has been increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 55% between 2015 and 2020 according to the GFI’s ‘Road to Zero’ report.
As of October 2023, there were more than 51,000 EV charging points across the UK, representing a 45% increase in the total number of charging devices since October 2022; that’s according to data collected through the Zapmap app. Many of these charge points could be retrofitted to include light vehicle charging devices, creating a network of charging infrastructure.
The ‘Delivering Net Zero’ report concludes by stating that HGV operators have one more scheduled replacement window for HGVs before the sale of new diesel HGVs is ceased in 2040. Creating favourable conditions for switching to EVs could remove up to 20% of UK vehicle emissions off the road putting the UK government on track for meeting its carbon neutral targets.
The Sustainable Supply Chain Exhibition is joining IntraLogisteX and Robotics and Automation at the NEC Birmingham on 19-20 March 2024! It will offer a focused environment for logistics, supply chain, and sustainability professionals to share ideas, offer solutions, and help each other on their sustainable journeys. Click here for more information on this unique event!