One size does not fit all for HGV carbon emissions, warns FTA 30 May 2014

The wide variety of weights and loads for freight must be taken into account when it comes to calculating appropriate emissions, warns the FTA (Freight Transport Association) in response to the EC report 'Reducing Heavy-duty vehicles' fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.'

The EC's strategy document, which is aimed at curbing carbon emissions from trucks, bases and coaches, states that HGVs are responsible for around a quarter of transport emissions throughout the EU.

The FTA is concerned that among the Commission's ambitions is to enable vehicle purchasers to compare the carbon efficiency of new trucks.

The association points to the EC's VECTO simulation tool, which will measure carbon emissions, leading to legislation requiring CO2 emission certification, reporting and monitoring on new HGVs – and then mandatory limits.

But FTA climate change policy manager Rachael Dillon worries that any certification scheme will be too simplistic, due to the sheer variety of models and sizes of trucks available, the wide variety of weights and loads carried etc – which will affect the per-tonne carbon efficiency of HGVs.

"It is good to finally see this long awaited strategy from the Commission," says Dillon, "but any approach to certifying carbon emissions of vehicles that does not take into account how much that vehicle can carry misses the point."

And she adds: "Larger vehicles may well be more carbon efficient per tonne carried, and that is what matters."

FTA provided early feedback into the EC strategy and the role that voluntary initiatives such as its LCRS (Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme) can play in reducing emissions.

"It is vital that the Commission considers a whole package of measures not just a certification scheme to help operators contribute to reducing carbon emissions," says Dillon.

"There is no one size fits all approach."

She also urges the Commission to resolve its own conflict with tackling carbon emissions against air quality – pointing to the fact that for over 20 years, operators have continued to invest in higher Euro standard trucks to improve air quality, but to the obvious detriment of carbon emissions.

"The latest generation of vehicles have been designed around the EU's new Euro 6 standard, which sets extremely low limits for nitrous oxide and particulate matter. Now the focus is switched to carbon. There must be a more joined up approach to the carbon and air quality challenge."

That said, the FTA welcomes the Commission's support for an improved infrastructure for alternative fuels, which, it says, will help to increase opportunities for the take up of gas HGVs.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
European Commission- Joint Research Centre
Freight Transport Association Ltd

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