Opinion

A Window of Opportunity

a window of opportunity

There are big changes ahead for the trucking industry and the old Boy Scout motto of ‘Be Prepared’ should apply, as we currently have a window of opportunity in the next five to ten years to prepare ourselves to lessen the shock of the changes and to enable us to get an economic benefit from those changes.

Being prepared means examining the upcoming changes and identifying the positives which can accrue from them, and then looking at the downsides of any changes and developing strategies to minimise the downside.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Except that the are no ironed on certainties, it all entails some guesswork and estimates, as well as looking at the possible unexpected bumps in the road. The game of prediction is one fraught with uncertainties, but careful and honest assessments can be made, giving us rational and probable developments.

What are we preparing for? In the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld it’s all about ‘known knowns and unknown unknowns’. This is the point at which rationality leaves the room. There is a need to differentiate between what we know and what we believe. They are two completely different things.

You can say you believe in climate change, or you can say you don’t believe, and that’s your prerogative. However, there are also a lot of things we know about the subject, which cannot be disputed.

The fact of the matter is that the developed world and a considerable proportion of the less developed world has set itself on the track of moving its economies over to a reduced carbon economy, with the aim of, eventually, getting carbon emissions down as far as zero.

This is a fact, whether you believe the science or not. Therefore it is incumbent on us to prepare for this fact’s consequences. After the current round of renewals of the trucks we use to transport freight around the world, there is going to be drastically reduced or zero research and development  funding going into the diesel powered truck.

All of that R&D funding is off working on electric, fuel cell, hydrogen ICE and anything else which comes along in the next twenty years.Therefore, the only technology available to Australian trucking will be this zero carbon equipment, whether we mandate it or not. Unless the industry rebuilds current trucks ad infinitum (some seem to be contemplating this), the only show in town will be the zero carbon stuff.

If this is the case, we need to invest in the infrastructure to support the new technologies. This is not something which can be built overnight. It will be a major investment for the country, but if we want a resilient and competitive economy into the future we need to start investing now to spread the cost over a number of years, rather than doing a rushed last minute catch-up job simply to retain our current status in the world.

 

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