COP26: Heavy goods vehicles decarbonisation a 'clear signal' for greening logistics

The government’s decision to make all new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the country zero emission by 2040 has been welcomed as a positive sign of progress in decarbonising the logistics industry.

The move, first proposed in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan published over the summer and confirmed at the transport-themed day at COP26 in Glasgow, would come ten years after the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans ends. And by 2035, the government says there will be no new “non-zero emission” HGVs weighing 26 tonnes and under.

Greg Archer, UK director at NGO Transport & Environment, hailed the decision as a “win-win” for the economy and the environment. “The technology to power trucks without burning fuel is maturing and costs are falling,” he said. "By placing the UK at the front of the queue we are not only addressing the climate emergency but will also [be] helping to clean up toxic urban air whilst creating new businesses and jobs.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of motor industry body SMMT, said it was a clear signal for decarbonisation but noted that it would be a "major challenge" to truck manufacturers and others involved in the transition.

“Manufacturers are investing billions in new technologies including battery electric, fuel cell, hydrogen and other alternative fuels to ensure road transport plays its part in delivering net zero. But there is no single technological solution for every service HGVs perform, from delivering goods to supermarkets or removing refuse, to hauling minerals from quarries or cement to construction sites."

He said the key enabler would be a dedicated HGV infrastructure "for which we still await any plan".

Olly Craughan, CSR head at DPDgroup UK, said he totally supported the move but noted that supply would need to match demand. “We would urge all parties involved in the supply of alternative green HGVs to press the fast-forward button on their development plans so businesses like ourselves can make the transition as soon as possible.”

However, Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association welcomed the government’s intention to “consult on derogations”.

On the same day, 13 MPs in the Conservative Environment Network called for more domestic support to boost electric vehicle charging, and public and active transport. 

They asked the government to use planning reform to incorporate public charge point provision in councils’ local plans, to develop national guidance to join up isolated off-road cycling and walking routes and to make ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ central to planning policy by amending the National Planning Policy Framework.