Over the last four months I have written in this column about the ‘Issue of our times – Climate Change’.
The decarbonisation of road freight is very much on the minds of truck manufacturers as they bring to market new zero emission product and continue to research and develop the advanced technologies needed as a response to increasing CO2 levels.
I have painted a realistic industry position that acknowledges the tenor and expectations of the political and community discourse within which the Truck Industry Council advocates.
In so doing I have spoken of the need for “reality to meet ambition”. Australian Governments, Federal and State, have set their economy wide targets.
The Federal Government has set the ambition of 43 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions below the 2005 levels by 2030. The reality lies in what new technologies truck manufacturers and importers can bring to the market today and in the near-term to 2030 and the appetite for operators to embrace these vehicles.
The technologies beyond 2030 are still being developed. I further spoke of how the road freight sector is recognised by Government as a hard-to-abate sector. This being the case because of varied types and applications for trucks in our communities.
Each truck and its use are different, spanning sectors from urban delivery to remote area roadtrains.
Add to this the challenges the industry currently faces with regulation in Australia, such as vehicle width and axle mass limits not suited to the adoption of zero emission vehicles and the need to provide truck purchasers with certainty through a reworked Road User Charging mechanism where operators are incentivised, not penalised, for purchasing low and zero emission vehicles.
Finally, I posed the need for a transition plan that promotes the objective of setting a realistic strategy to achieving carbon reductions in the sector. Readers were left to contemplate the statement, in this hard-to-abate sector,
“What’s better, near zero, or nowhere near zero?” With this context in mind, I turn to the detail of the Truck Industry Council’s transition plan being advocated to Government.
On current trends Australian road freight transport will achieve a 2 per cent CO2 reduction by 2030 well short of the Government’s 43 per cent target by 2030.
But is such a target feasible for the sector? In a word the answer is No! TIC is not alone in believing this. Europe’s transport target is 12 per cent by 2030. Can Australia get to 12 per cent? In a word, the answer is yes. Here’s how.
The starting point is for Australian Governments to acknowledge that in the road freight sector there is a need for a transition plan.
The switch to carbon neutrality will not be a light switch moment. TIC’s 2030 National Low and Zero Emission Transition Plan is built upon five-pillars.
Pillar One: Technology neutrality; Government’s should not pick winners. OEMs are working on a suite of zero emission technologies to address carbon neutrality. The current emphasis is electric trucks; by 2030 electric trucks alone will achieve a 2 per cent saving.
Pillar Two: The inclusion of Low Emission Trucks, principally, hybrid electric trucks; by 2030 this measure can achieve a 1 per cent saving.
Pillar Three: Target CO2 emission reduction from the entire Australian fleet. Potentially 98 per cent of the truck fleet will still be using diesel in 2030.
The fastest approach to reducing emissions within the sector is to empower the existing fleet by using renewable fuels (R5, or R10), by 2030 this measure can achieve a 5, or 10, per cent saving.
Pillar Four: Modernising the Australian Truck Fleet. TIC has long advocated for the renewal of Australia’s very old truck fleet. Given TIC’s lead, Euro VI trucks are part of the solution because they use less fuel. By 2030 this measure will achieve a 2 per cent saving. Pillar Five: Moving more with Less.
By increasing network access for High Productivity Vehicles, this measure could achieve a 2 per cent saving before 2030. Collectively, industry wide savings of between 12 and 17 per cent. At the core of this issue of climate change and the actions necessary to abate carbon is an economy wide restructure the likes of which have not been seen before.
We have seen examples of industry specific restructuring for example, in forestry, dairy and fishing.
In this hard to abate sector, to achieve significant carbon reduction, TIC is calling for a structural adjustment package to transition operators from the current undesired state to the low carbon desired state.
Tony McMullan CEO,
Truck Industry Council