Path to Net Zero
28 October 2021
The climate crisis is now one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community, and the UK logistics industry understands the part it must play in decarbonising the nation’s economy, says Michelle Gardner.
WORLD LEADERS gathered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021 to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change; the need to accelerate the transition to zero emission transport at the tailpipe was a key consensus at the event and will be a priority for UK industry and government alike over the coming years.
Logistics UK and its members are keen to support global environmental ambitions wherever possible; that is why we launched our environmental manifesto on 10 November 2021 – Transport Day at COP26 – to communicate with government and other stakeholders the support industry needs to reach Net Zero by 2050.
Decarbonising road transport is an urgent priority for all those in the sector – according to COP26's research, emissions produced by this industry are rising faster than those of any other area of the economy – so COP26 leaders are calling on countries and states, vehicle manufacturers, and fleet-owning businesses to all play their parts on the global journey towards Net Zero emissions.
Countries are being asked to commit to ensuring all new car and van sales are zero emission by 2035 or 2040, depending on how advanced their market is, and to put in place policies to accelerate the uptake of zero emission cars, vans, buses, and trucks.
While electrification currently offers the most viable low to zero carbon solution for lighter commercial vehicles (LCVs) – and these vehicles are readily available for purchase across the UK – the picture for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is more complex and uncertain. Government feasibility studies are now exploring three zero-tailpipe emission options: battery electric, electric road systems and hydrogen. Moving to zero tailpipe emission technologies presents a significant challenge as the vehicles must be able to perform all the same functions and operations as effectively as their diesel equivalents, in a similarly cost-effective way for businesses.
With 70% of respondents to a Logistics UK survey either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the availability of supportive infrastructure for alternatively fuelled vehicles, the government must commit to ensuring public refuelling and chargepoint infrastructure can be developed rapidly, installed and is accessible for use by commercial vehicles, with the strategic road network a priority. Depot charging will be essential, so a fair and equitable approach to funding power upgrades is needed if this technology is to be adopted.
Whether the future solutions for HGVs are battery electric, electric road systems or hydrogen, all require substantial infrastructure investment and energy capacity.
All modes of logistics transport are of crucial importance to moving essential goods and supplies around the UK and beyond. Like road transport, significant challenges and opportunities exist for decarbonsing air, rail and water transport modes. While modal shift from road to rail and waterborne freight can deliver environmental benefits, the government should not dictate which mode is selected; the right policy framework will enable rail and water freight to offer an alternative to road so that each mode is able to play its optimal role in the supply chain. Advances in technologies for low carbon solutions for air, rail and sea freight transport are progressing fast; it will take industry and government working together to realise the Net Nero by 2050 ambition.
For more details on Logistics UK’s environmental work, and to download the business group’s environmental manifesto, please visit logistics.org.uk/environment
Michelle Gardner, Head of Public Policy, Logistics UK
The logistics sector is experiencing job shortages across many occupations – in September 2021, 75% of Logistics UK’s members reported difficulties recruiting warehouse staff, fitters, mechanics and technicians, in addition to the 96% struggling to recruit HGV drivers. Throughout 2022, Logistics UK will continue to work with industry, government and other stakeholders to seek solutions to the skills shortage, to help repair the damage to supply chains we are seeing today and future proof the sector for years to come.
Logistics UK’s Skills and Employment Hub contains advice and information for employers and employees to assist in recruiting or becoming the next generation of employees to this vital sector. For more information, please visit logistics.org.uk/skills
Logistics UK’s popular event programme will continue in 2022, with firm favourites such as the Transport Manager Conference Series retuning for another year, along with a host of new, exciting, and essential events for those working in the logistics industry.
Keep an eye on Logistics UK’s event page for updates logistics.org.uk/events
Route to Net Zero Commitment
Through the Climate Change Act, the UK has a legally binding target to reach Net Zero by 2050. As the largest business group representing the sector, Logistics UK is asking its members to commit to decarbonising their operations as quickly, effectively and as urgently as possible to help the UK achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
We know the pathway to Net Zero will be challenging for many of our members, as the technology solutions are still being developed, but we will work to ensure our campaign is meaningful and can translate into real action.
Once a member application has been reviewed, and if it is approved, a member of Logistics UK’s team will be in touch with a Route to Net Zero pack, which includes a pledge certificate to sign, social media and marketing materials to promote your participation, and details on how to get involved further with Logistics UK’s environmental work.
For more information, please visit logistics.org.uk/environment/netzero