It’s almost impossible to ignore the ever louder calls to do something about climate change. While those doing delivery work have always faced concerns about pollution, the scale of the problem and the urgency of acting now have only recently come to popular public attention.

One of the most important goals is to reduce the amount of carbon we burn for fuel, but this is no easy feat. And it’s even harder to achieve without harming businesses in the transport sector. This is why the plan laid out in the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) recent report involves so much cooperation between government and industry.

Read on to learn more about the NIC’s goals for 2040.

The Need for Change

According to the report, the transport sector accounted for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2017. And this is only set to grow, with factors like increasing online shopping leading to a predicted increase of 45% in delivery work over the next 30 years.

In addition to environmental concerns, businesses have their own reasons to adapt to these developments. The report, Better Delivery: The Challenge for Freight notes that attempting to meet problems (only) as they arise, risks the UK haulage industry being ‘left behind its international competitors’.

Ambitious Goals

The industry has already seen changes, of course, with advances in electric vehicles especially promising. But, the NIC argues, this will not be enough: a ‘new conversation’ is needed between government and industry.

The report’s big headline aim is to ban the sale of new diesel HGVs by 2040. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) criticised the proposal as ‘simplistic’, arguing it failed ‘to spell out how government should lead a realistic, supportive transition’.

How to Achieve This

Burnett also notes that there are currently ‘no viable alternatives on the market’. To avoid harming those who do delivery work, especially small businesses, the government cannot simply commit to a ban and sit back.

The Challenge for Freight outlines several core proposals, including:

Mandating the energy regulator Ofgem to work with companies to enable large-scale depot charging by 2025,
Establishing a new Freight Leadership Council, which would see officials working with the private sector to implement changes.

Crucially, government must act to provide manufacturing and delivery firms the certainty they need to invest in new technologies on a large scale.

Positive Reactions

While the RHA’s concerns are significant, Burnett sounded a positive note, saying that new technology would be welcome so long as it was affordable.

Chris Snelling, head of UK policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), echoed this sentiment, saying that the logistics sector is ‘more than willing to make the permanent switch away from carbon-based fuels’, but that government ‘must first ensure the infrastructure and funding is in place to support this.’

Overall, it seems clear that for the delivery work industry to see the best outcomes from policy change, firms must be willing to work proactively with the public sector.

The goal of a ban on new diesel HGVs by 2040 is certainly a big one. But in addressing the issue and outlining potential solutions, the NIC points a potential way forward for firms. Delivery work always requires adaptability, and the NIC is confident businesses can meet these new challenges.

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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