Road freight greenhouse gases on decrease

Posted on 22nd February 2012 By Steve Clark

Although rising concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to pollute the atmosphere, it may be pleasing to know that in the road freight transport sector, greenhouse gases are in fact on the decrease.

According to the UN’s weather agency national levels of CO2 rose to a record high in 2010 (latest data available). However the latest data available from the Department for Transport website state that the road freight transport industry has shown a 16% fall in greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2009.

Road freight emissions contribute to only 1.9% of total emissions of all industries. The fact that the levels in greenhouse gas emissions from road freight transportation continues to fall year after year shows that a real emphasis to make an impact has been sounded and echoed throughout the industry as the need to stem human-induced climate change becomes more and more important to every company within the sector.

The majority of the plaudits can go to the companies themselves as they continue to tackle their own carbon footprints. Initiatives introduced over the past few years have begun to show positive signs of change. Internal initiatives managed by the freight forwarders involve:

  • Supply Chain Justification – Justifying the reasoning behind distribution. Companies are encouraging the use of consolidation centres and positively back locally produced sources.
  • Shrewder Vehicle Usage – Companies are utilising the way in which they use their vehicles. Initiatives which increase load sharing, load consolidation and return journey haulage are all contributing to a huge percentage of CO2 emission decreases
  • Fuel Efficiency in Vehicles – Road freight transport companies are constantly evolving by promoting economic enterprises in the form of biofuels and other electrical/plugin hybrids and efficient conventional vehicles.
  • Efficient Driving Courses – Companies are now offering unique courses and refresher courses in efficient driving. Company drivers are trained in efficient driving techniques to encourage minimal fuel loss and eco-driving.

To ensure the continued decrease in greenhouse gas emission, the transport companies need help from other sources. Schemes from the European Transport Conference (ETC) are constantly pushing proposals to increase awareness and promote eco-friendly haulage. An excerpt from their latest abstract goes into detail about the monetary benefits of eco-friendly options to encourage companies within the industry to reduce their carbon footprints: “A closer look (at the proposals in the scheme) reveals that a reduction of one billion kilograms (approx. 10%) in Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV >3,5t GVW) emissions can be achieved by 2020, with a cost effectiveness of €100 to €200 per ton. At the same level of cost effectiveness, a reduction of one billion kilograms (approx. 20%) in Light Goods Vehicles (LGV

A result of collaborative schemes between company and organisation have helped to decrease carbon emissions by 24% over the last 10 years. In 1999, road freight vehicles produced 15,800 tonnes of CO2 equivalent however in 2009 (latest data available), road freight vehicles produced only 12,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This goes to show the significance that these industry voices can have on the environment if they choose to flex their muscles.

The authority figure of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) are making the loudest noises in the industry and are really rallying for change. They are thinking outside the box and are not only looking nationally but internationally. They are looking to gain formal recognition from the Government and are looking to engage with road freight transport companies rather than issuing mandatory changes which may be frowned upon by the members of the industry.

By gaining trust this way, they are ensuring a positive collaborative effort which will not only be in the interests of the freight companies but will be in the interests of the consumer, in the interests of the Government and in the interest of mankind by minimising the impact that the road freight transport industry has towards greenhouse emissions.