Net Zero – more detail for commercial vehicles needed from the political parties

Net Zero – more detail for commercial vehicles needed from the political parties

17 Jun 2024 Posted By Chris Ashley

With the slew of General Election manifestos now published, it is clear that more detail is needed from the political parties on how commercial vehicles will transition to Net Zero. Where Net Zero is mentioned, the focus is on decarbonising energy and insulating homes. Where transport is mentioned, any detail is predictably focussed on cars – both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos commit to reinstating the 2030 phase-out date for sales of new ICE cars with a promise to speed up charging infrastructure.

The lack of detail for commercial vehicles represents both a concern but also an opportunity. The concern is that freight and coach operations continue to be overlooked by the politicians. As both are vital to the economic and social wellbeing of our society, this must change and the RHA will step up its campaign to ensure the needs of freight and coaches are front-and-central in the minds of policymakers.

However, the lack of detail presents an opportunity for industry to continue shaping the path to Net Zero. And this is what the RHA, as the only trade association dedicated to representing commercial vehicle operators with 8,500 truck, coach and van member companies, will pursue.

Our Net Zero Forum, together with our unashamedly pragmatic approach, will continue to drive this agenda centred around five themes - reducing the costs of Net Zero, energy infrastructure investment, ensuring zero emission vehicles performance, upskilling our workforce, and mindset change. Guiding our activity is our roadmap to Net Zero.

The “to do” list for the incoming Government will be long. Chief among them will be how the astronomical cost of decarbonising HGVs, estimated to be £100bn, can be managed so that our vital small businesses, who represent 95% of our sector, feel supported. We look to see how the excellent work by the Department for Transport to invest in vehicle trials and scope where energy infrastructure investments are needed are taken forward.

Urgent decisions must also be taken to ensure a fit-for-purpose planning system is in place that expedites, not hinders, the Net Zero transition. And on-going issues from the out-going Government need addressing swiftly – such as the use of low carbon fuels in road transport, phase-out dates for coaches and ensuring that vehicle weight regulations evolve to accommodate payload loss. We will continue our campaign for a roadmap from the new Government that affirms how all these issues will be managed.

The introduction of new technologies however also creates new and exciting opportunities. We will look to see how autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence can help make freight and coach operations more efficient and drive down emissions.

Informed by our members and their needs, the RHA will continue to work with our many partners across industry and national, devolved and local government to ensure these many issues are resolved satisfactorily.