electric hgv

2040 petrol and diesel ban should include lorries, advisers say

Image credit: DT

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called for the Government to enforce a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel heavy goods vehicles (HGV) from 2040 to help decarbonise Britain’s transport fleet.

In 2017 it was announced that sales of passenger cars running solely on fossil fuels would be banned by 2040 in favour of fully electric vehicles.

However, the NIC has cautioned that without similar action taken against HGVs, their overall contribution to the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions could rise to around a fifth of total allowed emissions by 2050.

Freight on road and rail produces around nine per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions today. Over the next 30 years heavy freight transport in the UK is expected to rise by at least 27 per cent due to increased use of internet shopping, same day deliveries and just-in-time manufacturing processes.

Electric HGVs are still in their relative infancy, with fewer fully electric options available than for cars. In 2017 Tesla announced an electric HGV with a range of about 500 miles, with production reportedly starting this year. 

The NIC said the Government needed to announce the change well in advance in order to give the freight industry time to invest in a greener fleet. It recommended that ministers should set out within the next two years how they plan to ban all sales of new petrol and diesel HGVs by 2040. The ban should be part of wider efforts to support the entire road and rail freight industry in becoming carbon-free by 2050 and ease worsening congestion, the NIC added.

Commission chairman Sir John Armitt said: “Whether it’s retailers, manufacturers or each of us as consumers, we all rely heavily on our freight industry. As one of the most efficient in the world, it rarely fails to deliver. But we are paying the price for this miracle of modern service through the impact on our environment and air quality, and through congestion on our roads. Government must act to help businesses tackle these issues.

“Today’s report says we need to set out bold plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel HGVs, bring emissions from freight on both road and rail to zero and give the industry greater visibility in Whitehall and town halls.”

Recent Department for Transport figures show just 359 ultra-low emission HGVs were registered for use in the UK at the end of last year, out of a total fleet of more than half a million.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) accused the NIC of making assumptions about technological developments which are yet to materialise. The trade association’s chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Their recommendations are simplistic and fail to spell out how Government should lead a realistic, supportive transition from diesel.

“New technology is welcome but it needs to be practical and affordable. A premature switch to zero-emissions lorries would disproportionately impact small freight operators.”

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