Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Green are Freight Transport Alternatives?

Are Road and Air Freight tools of the Devil, or just Dogs with Bad Names?
Shipping News Feature

LONDON – The July report, commissioned by the Government and prepared by international consultancy partnership Booz Allen Hamilton into CO2 emissions, has brought even more controversy into the climate change argument as it applies to freight transport.

The study, which centres on the proposed high speed rail links between London and Manchester/Glasgow/Edinburgh, has not produced the indications of the clear cut benefits which had been anticipated. It focuses on development of various schemes and their overall effects during the next 60 years whilst anticipating improvements in technology and factoring in pollutants during construction.

The results of the investigation point out that, although there are several types of scheme under consideration for the new links including a Maglev system, there is no discernible benefit, in terms of carbon reduction, in developing the routes.

The equation required to assess whether shifting both passenger and freight traffic to rail is simply too complex and too subjective to draw accurate conclusions as to its benefits. Until the Government declares its electricity generation plans, nobody can even begin a truly accurate calculation. Reliance on fossil fuels simply seems to mean that no benefit whatsoever can be gained from the switch to rail.

The report from BAH (see link below) put the lie to the recent Government pronouncements that development of the routes was essential "for reasons of carbon reduction and wider environmental benefits, manifestly in the public interest".