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?

China’s carbon trading to capture supply chain emissions

The carbon intensity of Australia’s exports to China will come under increasing scrutiny when its Emissions Trading Scheme is launched this year, joining moves both planned and already underway by a host of other Asian countries.

Scope 3 emissions, such as transport & distribution, are generated outside an organisation’s direct control and are often the largest part of their emissions. Exposure to highly carbon-intensive products and supply chains will meet an explicit price signal that could harm the competitiveness of Australian products, and needs our increasing attention.

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

The Elephant Not in the Room

There was a renewed feeling of optimism at this week’s Emission Reduction Summit in Melbourne, with the COP21 Paris agreement providing a platform of global commitment and inspiration for the “Who’s Who of Climate Change Action” in attendance. Yet as we dined on delicious carbon neutral seafood washed down with carbon neutral fine wine, my thoughts turned to the elephant that wasn’t in the room.3rd Australian Emissions Reduction Summit.png

Transport recently surpassed electricity as the largest energy user in Australia, its emissions growing faster than any other sector. Freight will progressively exceed passenger transport energy use as Australia’s freight task grows faster than the economy, expecting to double the 2010 freight task by 2030 and triple by 2050.

Transport is notoriously difficult to decarbonise. Overwhelmingly and increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels as local oil production drops and refineries close, the low oil price has the biofuels industry on its knees. Gas remains pre-commercial for long-haul trucking, rail and deep sea shipping, with no application to aviation. Our truck and bus fleet is one of the oldest in the OECD, with the average truck 14 years old and the average train locomotive more than 21 years old. Road consumes three quarters of transport energy yet we have no energy efficiency standards for cars or trucks, let alone trains, ships or aircraft.

Unsurprisingly, Transport has some of the largest and most cost-effective opportunities for improving energy productivity across all sectors of the economy.

Aside from the major airlines and a single rail operator, the rest of this vast, diverse sector was notably absent from the Summit conversation. No car or truck makers, no trucking companies, no fuel companies, no public transport agencies and no industry associations.

It’s little wonder there’s only a handful transport projects accessing the Emissions Reduction Fund and Clean Energy Finance Corporation incentives. Understanding the rules and jargon is like learning a foreign language, and it’s all risk with little reward, so the transport sector is just not engaged with the carbon reduction community, despite the financial support it offers.

Nevertheless, energy costs remain a significant and volatile input cost that is often the difference between winning and losing for most transport companies. So how can we better address this elephant of a sectoral opportunity that will be key to achieving net zero emissions?

What does a COP21 goal of net zero emissions mean for Freight Transport?

Business leaders are calling for a goal of net zero emissions to be set at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris this week. With 7% of global emissions coming from international freight transport, and growth in globalisation expected to increase such emissions nearly fourfold by 2050, the response from the logistics industry will be fundamental to meeting that goal. Yet for Freight Transport to achieve zero carbon, a key constraint is having good information all supply chain players can trust.

The Volkswagen saga shows how gaps in emission measurement standards or their application can shatter our faith in claims regarding emissions or fuel performance. Transport operators make a variety of statements about their environmental credentials, but how can freight buyers compare options with confidence?

A new non-profit, the Smart Freight Centre, is leading a collaboration of the world’s biggest shippers and transport companies to create a transparent, universal method of calculating logistics emissions along supply chains so people can make better decisions on how to move freight in the greenest way.

Data Drives Emissions Down

Transporters act in various ways to reduce energy use and emissions intensity across all logistics sectors to save money, reduce risk and meet growing customer demands for green transport services.

Good information is crucial for transporters to understand the real costs and benefits of potential emissions savings opportunities. It can be difficult to isolate gains produced by a single initiative given the amount of variables that affect fuel economy. Uncertainty about the environmental performance of alternative fuels and engine technologies is compounded by the lack of reliable case study information on their effectiveness for each transport mode. The integrity of external information sources relies on what exactly was measured, how and by who, and how the data applies to a specific task, the equipment configurations and local conditions.

In response, a growing number of collaborative groups are assessing technologies and practices that enable low carbon transport and share information on what works and what doesn’t.

Measuring the Whole Supply Chain

At a broader level we must consider a supply chain’s end-to-end profile. Measuring emissions from a train, truck, plane or ship is one thing, but allocating shares of those emissions to each freight item carried gets complicated across all legs of multi-modal freight movements criss-crossing the globe.

Online retail is creating exponential growth in single-item deliveries direct to homes and workplaces from worldwide sources. Growing consumer demand takes priority over the efficiencies of traditional logistics models, where bulk shipments via distribution centres to retail stores provide economies of scale for more energy- and emissions-efficient freight. Light commercial vans are the fastest growing traffic category in many countries, yet vans are second only to aircraft in energy consumed per tonne kilometre and generate over four times more CO2 per tonne-km than the average 44 tonne truck. This restructuring of supply chains affects the environmental footprint differently across geographies and logistics sectors.

Increasingly, freight buyers need to better understand the sources of logistics emissions along their supply chains, where freight can account for 25% or more of a product’s lifecycle emissions.

One Common Standard

The Smart Freight Centre hosts a collaboration of business and associated stakeholders creating a global framework for logistics emissions accounting. In 2014 they established the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) to develop a universal and transparent way of calculating logistics emissions across global multi-modal supply chains so that shippers and logistics providers can include carbon footprints in business decisions, alongside costs, time and reliability when selecting modes, routes and carriers.

GLEC will harmonise existing methods and address gaps to devise an assurance standard in freight logistics emissions that enables more accurate and reliable benchmarking and realistic emission reduction strategies. Its’ framework builds on:

To better understand how it will operate for both shippers and logistics service providers in real world supply chains, a series of case studies is underway to gauge the practical availability of data and how it can be used to optimise low carbon freight movements. By simplifying a complex business with a common standard everyone can use to compare green logistics options, people can confidently use good information to reduce both environmental impact and cost.

Towards Zero Carbon Transport

Achieving net zero transport emissions requires using less fuel in tonne-kilometre terms (a key energy productivity metric) and using the cleanest fuels that suit particular freight tasks. The unavoidable residual emissions can then be neutralised by purchasing carbon offsets based on precise and trustworthy emissions measurement.

As global freight emissions rise, a harmonised method for emissions accounting becomes increasingly necessary. Supply chain players large and small must have good emissions information to maintain competitiveness and prepare for the complexity of a carbon-constrained world.

Consultation workshops in the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia are inviting public comment on the GLEC Framework, so download it to learn more. If you think about how this tool can improve your freight decision-making, you can help develop a logistics emissions methodology that assists Freight Transport to realise the net zero emissions goal.