Friday, April 16, 2021

Road Haulage Lobby Calls for Government to Rationalise Decarbonisation Agenda

New Paper Lays Out Proposals
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Road Haulage Association (RHA), whose members so often have the finger pointed at them when air pollution is discussed, is calling for Government to show coordinated leadership by creating a well-considered, evidence-based national decarbonisation roadmap that fully takes account of the needs of users and the environment.

To present its case the RHA has published a paper entitled ’Eliminate, Minimise, Offset’ that sets out its vision on how the commercial vehicle sector can achieve Net Zero emissions. The cornerstone of this approach is investment in developing vehicle standards to drive down CO2 emissions, supported by stable regulation.

The Association goes on to accuse politicians of possessing a train of thought increasingly attuned to knee-jerk and simplistic demonising of road users which it says some groups and politicians see as being unpopular or polluting. The implication is that these groups simply do not understand how the supply chain works in practical terms and have little regard to the essential needs of the economy and society for goods to be moved. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett commented:

“Both the political ambition and technological potential to reduce UK CO2 emissions is clear. However, sustainable and predictable implementation is less so, and our updated policy paper sets out clear recommendations to steer the next steps. It is unfortunate that, as the UK recovers from the devastating impact of Covid-19, the political debate is currently unbalanced and threatens to alienate any good-will that exists ‘to do the right thing’.

”Politicians know that successful environmental outcomes depend on a healthy, mobile economy that generates the tax revenue needed to invest in lowering emissions. But they must also understand that a healthy economy depends on the cost-effective and efficient transportation of people and goods. A more inclusive approach to decarbonisation, one that takes account of the need for business to have confidence to invest in new equipment, is essential as the drive to net zero continues.”

The RHA stressed its support for the recent assessments by both the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office that ‘at present, there is no coordinated plan with clear milestones towards achieving [Net Zero]’. It has therefore recommended four key steps to be taken:

  • policymakers to provide regulatory certainty to avoid future ‘stranded assets’
  • well-designed standards generated to govern the development of new technology and infrastructure that is phased in sustainably as market supply allows
  • highway authorities to ensure the road space works for all users with the ability to move goods and people efficiently and cost-effectively unimpeded
  • policymakers to avoid regressive impacts or counter-productive outcomes