Opinion

In Need of a Deadline

in need of a deadline

When dealing with the world of trucks and trucking, people from different sectors of the economy sometimes have difficulty working out how those in the truck world think, and that is because of the nature of the industry and the fact that people working in transport are always in need of a deadline.

If you work in the trucking industry it’s all about getting the freight from point A to point B by a particular time. That imperative informs much of the way people in the truck and trucking industry think and work.

I recall at the start of the 21st-century that trucks in Australia had to deal with a series of quite abrupt deadlines. In a 12 year period the exhaust gas emission requirements for all new trucks was tightened up in three separate steps. First it was Euro 3, then 4 and finally Euro5, which we are still working with today, 12 years after it was introduced,

A lot of discussion 20 years ago was about how we were going to reduce those emissions and what would be the best method of doing it, both in terms of technical achievement, but also in terms of cost of initial equipment and total running costs of the trucks.

I remember writing week after week about some new technology idea which one of the truck manufacturers had come up with, and then being informed of another possible solution which would be better than the first one, but was also relatively unproven.

Later, it was about talking to transport operators who were not sure how they would cope with the technical changes in their trucks, who were considering buying more trucks earlier, with higher emissions in order to avoid having to pay the extra for the lower emission trucks. In fact, there were a couple of periods of serious pre-buying taking place, with major bumps in truck sales numbers in the lead up to those emission rule change deadlines.

Fast forward to the 2020s and we are again on the horns of a dilemma trying to work out which would be the best solution to reduce carbon emissions in the trucking industry in order to mitigate climate change.

Trucking operators are also agonising over how they manage this transition and deciding which technologies they are likely to support and which ones will cost them less, in both the short term and the long term.

However, on this occasion there is a difference, there is no hard deadline, the trucking industry is simply faced with an amorphous timescale for the need to reduce carbon emissions into the future, to meet a percentage reduction target for the whole country. There is no hard deadline for when trucks and trucking operators need to have reduced their carbon emissions.

At the same time, the European Union has come up with a number and a date and setting strict deadlines for the industry to meet carbon reduction targets. However, the numbers still apply to the overall industry rather than specific vehicles. There is no hard and fast direction on how this should be achieved.

Perhaps if the powers that be actually wanted us to reduce our emissions down to zero carbon it would be easiler to simply change the regulations on vehicle emissions by a particular date, to the point where the amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere by the trucking industry is reduced by the required amount?

 

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