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Trucking 'at crossroads' between rising CO2 emissions and zero carbon road freight

The European trucking sector is at a crossroads and must make a choice between CO2 emissions climbing 10% over the next decade or taking a pathway towards zero carbon road freight, stronger economic growth for Europe and better energy security.

This is one of the main conclusions of a new report, Trucking into a greener future, released recently by a consortium of stakeholders in the energy and trucking sectors, which includes DB Schenker and Geodis, and also from civil society, convened by the European Climate Foundation.

Heavy duty trucking accounts for 22% of the EU road transport emissions, while making up less than 5% of the vehicles on the road, the report notes.

In May this year, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal for the first-ever CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the EU. This set targets for average CO2 emissions from new lorries in 2025 and 2030 which are 15% and at least 30% lower respectively than in 2019, the latter being an indicative target, subject to review in 2022.

The report contends that while the gradual introduction of fuel efficiency technologies and electric and hydrogen-fuelled propulsion systems will increase the upfront capital costs for hauliers, this will quickly be offset via lower spending on diesel, reducing the overall cost of road freight services.

"Even for advanced systems such as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), the Total Cost of Ownership can be very competitive compared to diesel vehicles over five years," it claimed.

Commenting on the issues highlighted in the report, DB Schenker's vice-president, Global Innovation, said that transport was the only sector in which Europe’s CO2 emissions are now higher than in 1990 and was becoming a significant burden to Europe in meeting its climate obligations as set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

"Policy is increasingly focused on transport emissions and cities are implementing bans on fossil fuel vehicles while increasingly conscious consumers are demanding low-carbon services, making diesel truck delivery a burning platform. The logistics business needs to reinvent its value chain to cut local and global emissions and take advantage of new business models presented by an electric fleet and smart charging networks," he underlined.