The heavy transport of goods by road represents only 4.5% of the total emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) from human activity in the European Union, according to the International Road Transport Association (ASTIC), within the framework of World Environment Day, which is celebrated today, Saturday, June 5. For more than a decade, professional road transport has been implementing a profound transformation in its business and logistics management to reduce GHG emissions (they include, among other gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), which represents 80%, nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) or ozone (O3)). Some of them are investment in more energy efficient vehicles; training your drivers in economical driving skills; or the commitment to high technology to optimize route planning in order to minimize idle times and empty journeys.
“All these measures have achieved that the new vehicles that transport companies incorporate into their fleets have reduced their CO2 emissions in the last ten years by more than 20% for each ton-kilometer produced”, he explains. Ramon Valdivia, general director of ASTIC, an employer association that includes the most important transport and logistics companies in Spain, by turnover and number of vehicles (its associated companies operate almost 100 vehicles each compared to less than four of the national average).
Road freight transport is strategic for global economic development as it constitutes the central element of the supply chain, providing key connectivity between industry and consumer society. In Spain, 95% of the land movement of goods is carried out by road by just over 100,000 companies operating around 360,000 vehicles, compared to the 75% registered on average in the EU. This sector contributes close to 5% to Spanish GDP and employs more than one million workers (more than 520,000 are direct). Spain is the second country in the EU that carries out the most international transport of goods by road with a market share of 16%, only surpassed by Poland.
Thus, their work for society ‘only’ generates 4.5% of GHG emissions from human activity in the EU. “As we are the first to want that ‘just’ to become ‘nothing’, we will continue working to achieve the long-awaited neutrality of emissions in 2050 in the hands of partners such as the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which has just to announce a Green Pact that establishes a clear roadmap for the sector to reduce its CO₂ emissions by at least 3,000 million tons per year ”, highlights the manager.
One of the aspects on which the experts most influence to curb emissions in this sector is the renewal of the fleet since an engine of a heavy vehicle, under the Euro 2 pollution regulation (15 years of life), represents a 95 % more discharge of gases into the atmosphere than those Euro 6 models that are currently marketed.
«Aware of the importance of this measure, in April ASTIC carried out a survey of our affiliated companies and we verified the“ youth ”of their fleets: the current average age of their vehicles since their registration in 80% of these companies is less four years and we are talking about large companies (50% have fleets of more than 100 trucks) that have been operating in the sector for several decades; that is to say, they do not renew their vehicles because they are newly created companies, but rather to stay permanently at the forefront of energy efficiency and road safety, this behavior being a foundation of their corporate culture and commitment to a job well done “, indicates Valdivia.
Electric or fuel cell trucks
In 2018 the European Commission began to work on the first regulation on CO2 emissions applied to heavy vehicles: in 2025 the average discharge from new trucks will have to be 15% lower than in 2019 and for 2030 a reduction target is proposed of at least 30% compared to 2019. «We are in favor of any measure that involves energy savings; both for a matter of environmental commitment and for an economic issue since currently one third of the total operating cost of transport operators corresponds to fuel expenditure. And it is clear that if we save on fuel, we will emit less CO2 and we will be more competitive, ”says Ramón Valdivia.
According to data provided by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), although the registrations of diesel trucks in 2020 have fallen by 25.5% compared to the previous year, they are still 96.4% of the total (almost 235,000 units) while natural gas and electric trucks grew respectively by a 5.8% (close to 6,800 units) and 42.1% (1,059 license plates).
“Apart from diesel, natural gas and eco-fuels, in the next decade there are no effective and efficient vehicle solutions that may be available, with sufficient production volumes and proven reliability. A rolling stock of electrically powered long-haul heavy vehicles, either with batteries or with fuel cells powered by ‘green’ hydrogen, is not viable today because they are light years away from offering a competitive total cost of operation. As of 2030 we can be talking about a significant presence of this type of truck in the annual registration figures; something in which we agree with the International Energy Agency, which for five years later foresees that 50% of the new heavy duty license plates correspond to electrical solutions ”, Valdivia emphasizes.