As the government commits to halving greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2025 (on 1990 levels), the Freight Transport Association (FTA) believes the logistics sector is well positioned to play a full part in achieving the cuts in emissions needed.
The leading trade body, which published the first annual report of the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) earlier this year, has already seen members of its pioneering scheme commit to a reduction in the carbon intensity of their freight operations of eight per cent by 2015, compared with a 2010 baseline.
Simon Chapman, FTA’s Chief Economist, said:
"So far, transport has proved one of the most stubborn areas of carbon dioxide emissions to reduce, with other sectors of the economy having taken much of the strain as car traffic and commercial vehicle activity continued to grow. Over the last decade, through innovative practices linked to routing and scheduling of vehicles, the freight industry has managed to decouple hgv activity from economic growth. To make inroads into the absolute level of carbon dioxide emissions produced, real-time use of these techniques will need to be combined with wider use of alternative fuelled vehicles, more freight moving by rail and a continued focus on fuel efficiency.
"’The LCRS commitment to reduce the intensity of emissions underlines the fine line that business must tread. The desire for an absolute cut in emissions from freight must not be at the expense of freight supporting the competitiveness of the economy and serving consumers."
The Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) has attracted the support of 52 businesses operating in excess of 48,000 commercial vehicles, ranging from major high street retailers and third party logistics providers to utility companies. Earlier this year, the LCRS received the backing of transport minister Mike Penning MP who stated that the scheme should "deliver real progress toward the UK’s carbon reduction targets".
This industry-led scheme, which was launched in July 2010, is a key part of the logistics industry’s response to meeting the challenge of climate change. LCRS members commit to regularly reporting their fuel use figures from which carbon dioxide emissions for the scheme are derived, together with a set of four activity and business-based normalisers. From these datasets, absolute levels of emissions and the relative improvement in emissions over time can be monitored.
"Climate change is one of the greatest transport policy challenges facing the government. For the logistics sector, many of the opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions have the potential to be a win-win, with cost reduction going hand in hand with cutting fuel use. However, what can be done at an individual operator level and by vehicle manufacturers can only get us so far down the path of contributing to the government’s targets.
"To go beyond the 8 per cent carbon intensity reduction target by 2015 that scheme members have signed up to, government has a role to play. Increasing vehicle dimensions, reducing the relative cost of rail freight and encouraging trucks to deliver out of peak hours all have a carbon dioxide reduction payback, but are out of industry’s hands to deliver."