Transport Emissions Policy: Kicking the Big, Growing Can down the Road

Transport has Australia’s biggest emission reduction task – and little government support.

The 2017 Review of Climate Change Policies released over Christmas presents a re-hash of current policies and policy reviews, deferring new progress to after the 2019 federal election. Transport emissions will continue growing at record levels in the meantime, begging the question:

How long can we keep kicking the transport emissions Can down the road?

Australia’s Fast-Growing Transport Emissions

trend target 2

Transport is the main culprit in Australia’s rising greenhouse gas emissions story, it’s emissions now at record highs driven by ever-growing demand for freight and passenger movement. The sector contributes 18% of Australia’s emissions and has the largest abatement task ahead to help meet Australia’s reduction targets – one third of Australia’s total task to 2030. With Australia’s Paris commitment effectively a ‘floor’, our reduction targets will increase in ambition. To meet science-based targets that will slow down climate change below 2 degrees warming, Australia’s abatement task should be doubled.

Either way, there’s much work ahead for the Transport sector.

This without considering emissions from the long shipping and air routes we depend so heavily on for trade. Shipping remains the only industry without global legislation to limit or offset greenhouse gas emissions.

can small      Global policy challenge

“Of all the myriad ways that energy is produced and used,

transportation has the greatest promise to change our lives for the better,

and yet it is languishing under business as usual.” – Rocky Mountain Institute

Neglecting Transport in climate policy is a global problem starting to get some attention. The Bonn COP23 climate negotiations in November introduced several transport initiatives to achieve the Paris 2050 goal of a net zero emission world economy, noting “without rapid and ambitious mitigation action, transport emissions could more than double by 2050”.

Far from its climate policy leadership a decade ago, Australia is stuck with growing transport emissions, relying on voluntary action with no strategic goals or policy to reverse the trend.

Change will come with China’s emissions trading scheme, where scope 3 emissions from transporting bulk minerals to market may be counted in Chinese carbon footprints, applying a carbon price that exposes our policy vulnerability and drastically reduce competitiveness.

can medium      Weak current policy

black spot

Transport is trapped in a carbon policy Black Spot nation-wide, often specifically excluded from energy policies at federal and state levels, while energy and emissions are a side show in transport policies. Vague notions of improving productivity and supporting low emission technologies instead of clear emission reduction targets and integrated supporting actions.

How much decarbonising of transport is evident in the policies identified by the 2017 climate policy review?

POLICY REVIEW TABLEThe industrial sector needs huge amounts of carbon offsets for Australia to meet its 26% emission reduction target by 2030, but with large volumes of low-cost offsets available from the land sector, Reputex expects no Transport abatement in its ACCU supply curve outlook.

Business-as-usual won’t accelerate take-up of new technologies, practices, or – critically – management focus; a bold strategic vision is needed.

can big jpg      2018 opportunity & risk

Several current policy reviews can together help address the task effectively at least cost:

POLICY REVIEW TABLEThey offer hope that 2018 could instead be a year for strong policy action, integrating suites of co-ordinated measures at all levels of government to guide and provide certainty for business investment in low carbon transport.

With the fastest growing emissions of any sector, Transport has the biggest decarbonisation task of them all. When the Can gets so big we can’t kick it any further, we may look back to 2018 and ask why we didn’t address it sooner, when action was less difficult and expensive than when we’re further down the road.





“Run on Less” proves more is possible, now

The “Run on Less” truck fuel efficiency experiment achieved outstanding results over 10 miles per gallon, crediting its’ success to conscientious drivers taking advantage of the best fuel-saving technologies available today.

Trucks from 6 fleets and an owner-operator traversed a range of cross-country USA routes, duty cycles and truck profiles over 17 days in the experiment backed by the US EPA Smartway program.

Despite enduring two major hurricanes and their operational consequences, the vehicles carrying real customer loads smashed the US national average of 6.4 mpg to show transport operators around the world what’s possible in fuel-efficient trucking.

Interestingly for Australian operators, aerodynamic technologies played a big role in lowering fuel consumption, especially trailer tails which aren’t legal in this country. Solar technology is also becoming viable, with 3 trailers using solar power for hotel loads, charging batteries or assisting auxiliary systems.

A collection of learnings about fuel-saving technologies and practices are available at the Run On Less website, where a webinar on the experiment will soon be available. Find detailed Confidence Reports on particular technologies with indicative paybacks at, where operators can assess the pro’s and con’s of a range of fuel-saving techniques to suit their business needs.

Fuel is a linehaul truck’s biggest variable cost, so what would a 50% improvement do for your competitive position and bottom line?

CILTA to host regional logistics event

Looking forward to a “highly productive” transport event run by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILTA) next week:

The Next Generation of Logistics in Regional Victoria

New rail and road developments will boost freight productivity for the benefit of manufacturing, agriculture, retail and industrial businesses throughout northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, with the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project underway and the coming expansion of the High Productivity Vehicle Network along the Hume Highway.

Leading logistics and infrastructure experts and government planners will share their latest thinking to help logistics businesses and their customers begin their strategic planning for a prosperous future.

It’s next Tuesday 8th August 2017 at The Cube, 118 Hovell Street, Wodonga, Victoria, 9am – 5pm

Sign up for the event details here

Freight Transport needs a Finkel clean energy target

As another Australian energy policy neglects Transport, our highest energy using sector, we now await the outcomes of the climate change policies review to arrest the sector’s rising emissions intensity and declining fuel security.

Under our Paris Agreement commitments we need to halve per capita emissions and a two-thirds reduction in emissions intensity of all economic activity, so for the freight and passenger transport sectors to contribute their shares, ambitious, effective and integrated government policies at many levels will be critical. To reach the required emissions reduction trajectory, one estimate is that one billion tonnes CO2-e needs to be reduced from the Australian economy by 2030. With Transport contributing about 18% of Australia’s current annual emissions (93 of 527 Mtco2e), its share would be 180 million TCO2e reduced by 2030, roughly 12 million tonnes pa.

emissions by sector

Source: Australia’s emissions projections 2016, Commonwealth of Australia 2016

Current Policies Inadequate

Under the Emissions Reduction Fund transport methods, only three projects have been contracted to deliver a total of 1.2 million tonnes CO2-e contracted over 7 years, averaging 170,000 TCO2-e p.a., about 1.5 per cent of the average required annual mitigation for the transport sector, and 0.6 per cent of total ERF funds committed in the five ERF auctions held to date.

combinedresultsVolumeofAbatement April 17Source: Clean Energy Regulator June 2017

Greater mitigative action from the sector is needed, and quickly, because the long lives of transport vehicles such as trucks, buses, trains and ships, and their enabling infrastructure, means that decisions made over the next few short years may lock-in emissions-intensive transport equipment for decades.

Use of low carbon transport fuels such as biodiesel, natural gas and ethanol has declined significantly in recent years, due to a variety of factors including low oil price, technology performance and a lack of refuelling infrastructure and supply chain development, and the continued closure of local refining capacity means imported fossil-based fuels are relied upon for freight transport more than ever. An assessment of transport energy productivity growth, like those undertaken for other critical networks in the electricity, water and gas sectors, would better inform climate change policy development for transport generally, showing productivity growth or deterioration trends in network efficiency and its impact on national productivity and emissions.

New Policies & Infrastructure

Enhanced incentives and support are needed to dramatically improve emissions reduction activities in a sector that will grow 25% in the next decade. Freight transport needs policy leadership and strategic vision with clear objectives for energy use and emissions reduction with a single source of overall responsibility to integrate programs at all levels.

Significant freight infrastructure capacity building projects that dramatically improve the business case for shifting freight to less emissions-intensive modes should be of the highest priority to change business-as-usual growth in road freight and its consequences for greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, air pollution and road safety. Initiatives could include increasing rail payload capacities and more dedicated rail lines between ports and hinterland intermodal terminals, while re-building capacity for domestic shipping will need strategic investment in dedicated coastal shipping terminals for intermodal and roll-on/roll-off cargoes and regulatory change that currently limits is use.

Key policies required to effectively and sufficiently encourage emissions reduction in freight transport include:

  1. Establish an explicit carbon pricing mechanism
  2. Make the ERF more financially attractive for transport projects
  3. Encourage mode shift with full cost-reflective road pricing, specific mode shift incentive schemes and including key opportunities under the ERF land and sea transport method
  4. Fuel-efficiency standards for light commercial and heavy vehicles
  5. Incentives for accelerated retirement of older rail and heavy road vehicles
  6. Measure productivity and productivity growth in the transport energy network
  7. Freight transport efficiency remains one of the largest opportunities for additional initiatives under the National Energy Productivity Plan, and the 2XEP Freight Roadmap details a list of 70 initiatives that could also be included in the NEPP or other existing policies for government and industry to action together. A key for these will be piloting the use of the Australian Standard for Transport Energy Audits, a world-best practice standard developed by an Australian government-industry partnership that will underpin many emissions reduction measures.

Taking a Finkel-like approach by establishing clean energy targets and a single point of responsibility for their achievement are critical first principles for freight transport to help Australia reach its emission reduction goals for 2030 and beyond.

How to lift energy productivity in Freight Transport

A Roadmap to double energy productivity in Freight Transport by 2030” is now released for comment, and yours will be most welcome.

Urgent action is needed to generate more economic value from the energy used to move freight in Australia, as congested cities increasingly constrain productivity across the economy. Decisions made today can lock-in energy-intensive freight transport activities for decades.

Published by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity using extensive consultation with leading transport businesses, industry associations and government stakeholders, the roadmap aims to agree actions and priorities for both industry and government under the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP).

Transport is now Australia’s largest energy user, and with the freight task to grow 25% over the next decade, it will have ever-greater influence on congestion, climate change, air pollution and economic productivity across all sectors. The transport sector has some of the most cost-effective opportunities for energy and emissions savings, yet as the NEPP 2016 annual report notes, raising energy productivity in freight and commercial transport relies largely on voluntary action, and little progress is being made.

The Roadmap considers trends that will shape future energy use in the sector, including increasing urbanisation, a shift to renewable energy, vehicle electrification, connectivity and intelligent transport systems, automation and business model transformation. It gauges the extent of improvements possible via known technologies; it highlights the uncertainty expected from various levels of disruption that is coming; and it identifies measures to help the transition to a much more energy-productive freight sector.

Key suggestions will be incorporated into its final version, so please check it out and contribute your ideas.


Extra money to buy new trucks

Announcing a new service that unlocks government funding to buy new efficient trucks.

We can now help mid-to-large trucking companies access government incentives to invest in more efficient transport vehicles by reducing finance costs and paying cash from carbon credits.

Unique Opportunity

With no up-front costs, we can qualify fleet renewals for:

–             a 0.7% finance rate discount monthly

–             cash payments from carbon credits annually

Funded by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the finance discount lowers lease payments for the life of the lease and comes off your market interest rate.

The more fuel efficient your new vehicles are compared to those they replace, the greater the carbon credit cash bonus becomes, paid from an established Emissions Reduction Fund project annually for up to seven years.

Easy, Low Risk & No Fees

It’s an easy, low risk process with no up-front or ongoing charges that gives truck buyers extra cash on top of the fuel savings and other benefits that new trucks provide.

And it shows customers you are achieving real, measurable, government-backed environmental improvements as an innovator in your industry.

Why leave money on the table?

Don’t miss out! Contact me today to see how much funding is available for your new truck purchases in 2017 and beyond.

David Coleman

0455 777 551

How will Blockchain Disrupt Freight Transport?

Blockchain technology could slash the cost of transactions and reshape the economy.

Blockchain technology will soon facilitate and track financial payments, cross-border trade and freight flows. A peer-to-peer digital network, blockchain is an open-source distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable, secure and permanent way, while also enabling ‘smart contracts’ that trigger transactions automatically.

Logistics companies are already using blockchain for commercial settlements of bills of lading and customs; to pay for international cargo fees with Bitcoin crypto-currency; to decentralise the tracking of shipping containers; and to record a globally accessible provenance trail for diamonds that has enormous applications for quality assurance in retail, agriculture and pharmaceuticals supply chains.

The impact of blockchain on freight transport will go hand-in-hand with the rise of autonomous and connected vehicles and other exponential technologies. Envision a world where self-driving vehicles, with routing and pricing software tuned to minimise energy use, are guided to the quickest route by real-time traffic updates and to the next customer by real-time requests, with blockchain eliminating the middleman to match freight with vehicles, charge transaction fees and set terms and conditions in a smart contract that sends payment to a supplier as soon as sensors confirm a shipment is delivered. No drivers, back office staff or banks required. Tolls, parking, energy and maintenance automatically transacted. Logistics companies face the prospect of competing with anonymous fleets of privately-owned vehicles optimised for quick, low cost delivery services.

Is this a realistic vision of blockchain’s impact on freight transport? What other possibilities are emerging? And how soon must we be ready for blockchain integration to our business models?