Tomorrow’s transport system will be based on the principles of sustainability: principles which are already at the core of road transport operators’ business.
At the IRU World Congress in Oman, IRU’s global membership adopted the 2050 Decarbonisation Vision demonstrating the readiness of the sector to make far-reaching changes and investments in a sustainable future, striving to play their part in meeting the Paris climate change targets. A key tenet of the vision is the need for a cross-modal, cross-sectoral approach to decarbonisation, involving a strong public-private partnership in shaping the way ahead.
Decarbonisation poses a significant challenge to the road transport sector but one that operators are fully embracing by taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints. The sweeping changes that will transform the sector also offer opportunities for operators. With fuel equalling 30% of operators’ costs, they are constantly seeking ways to reduce their fuel consumption and thereby also reduce their CO2 emissions.
To be a relevant player in the transport system of the future, the industry understands that putting environmental sustainability at the heart of all operations is essential. The vision highlights five key pillars that pave the way to decarbonising road transports:
- Boosting operational efficiency, through measures such as improving load factor optimisation, digitalisation and greater use of collaborative transport platforms, could contribute to CO2 savings of 10% in the EU. The use of high-capacity vehicles can also lead to significant CO2 savings, with 2 vehicles able to carry the load of 3 regular trucks. These cost-effective operational measures are low-hanging fruit which are already leading to quick decarbonisation gains and should therefore be supported by decision-makers.
- Eco-driver training is another low-hanging fruit which is helping the sector reduce its impact and IRU is playing an active role by providing training for drivers.
- Increasing the use of alternative fuels is another key pillar of decarbonisation with a range of solutions needed for a complex market. Operators are committed to using greater blends of low-carbon fuels in conventional engines, and shifting to new powertrain solutions where the business case exists.
- Improving fuel efficiency will have a significant benefit on decarbonising road transport. Further development and uptake of the latest technologies, such as engine efficiency improvements, waste-heat recovery and improved aerodynamics, is one of the key ways in which operators can reduce their CO2 emissions.
- A strong collective transport system offering a viable alternative to private car use is one of the clearest ways to decarbonise the transport sector. The commercial road transport sector is an essential pillar of the global economy and a well-functioning logistics chain also ensures less dependence on private car use thereby both reducing congestion and CO2 emissions.
Matthias Maedge, who leads IRU’s activities in the EU, commented “The commercial road transport sector pledges to play its part in achieving the Paris goals by striving towards a low-carbon future. However, the sector can’t get there alone so we need other key stakeholders to play their part, as well as decision-makers who must ensure that we have an enabling environment. Investments in infrastructure and in traffic management will be essential as will a legislative framework that encourages innovation and allows industry the flexibility to reduce CO2 emissions in the most cost-effective manner”.