International Energy Agency reports road-freight transport accounts for a
third of transport carbon dioxide emissions, yet regulations have
curiously overlooked this sector.
Improving the efficiency of freight transport is critical to reducing carbon emissions, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In their report, The Future of Trucks: Implication for energy and the environment, IEA calls out trucks for their contribution to oil demand and air pollution, while urging industry leaders to push for reform.
Trucking is a major factor in carbon emissions. The growth in oil demand from trucks has outpaced all other sectors - including aviation and feedstocks - since 2000. Freight transport accounts for almost one fifth of global oil demand, or around 17 million barrels of oil a day. As a result, trucking's heavy reliance on oil products contributes to a third of total transport-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Yet, IEA alleges that the sector flies under the radar compared to passenger vehicles. In fact, only four countries have energy-efficiency standards for freight trucks, compared with 40 countries that have passenger-vehicle standards.
In their report, IEA concedes that road-freight trucking is essential for a global economy. Still, they offer solutions to improve efficiency and sustainability of the sector.
One solution is improving logistics and systems operations. This can maximize the utility of cargo transported while reducing the number of wasteful trips taken without any cargo. Low carbon pathways might encourage local deliveries, as the report notes that long distance deliveries tend to be much more inefficient than local ones.
Another solution is installing aerodynamic retrofits and low-rolling resistance tires to reduce drag on existing trucks, while implementing lightweight materials, energy-efficient or hybrid engines and GPS systems to reduce idling and excessive fuel consumption.
Still, a third solution advises the trucking industry to consider alternative fuels such as natural gas, biofuels, electricity, wind or hydrogen in all aspects of transport in order to diversify fuel supply.
"For far too long, there has been a lack of policy focus on truck efficiency. Given they are now the dominant driver of global oil demand, the issue can no longer be ignored if we are to meet our energy and environmental objectives," Faith Birol, IEA executive director, said in a recent press release.
Although some of the improvements seem expensive or complex, many can be accomplished if industry leaders push for it. It's not impossible - parallels can be drawn from the building sector's new era of sustainable design. Regardless, improving fuel-economy standards, logistics and energy technology is beneficial not just for the trucking industry, but for everyone.
To read the IEA report, visit their publication library. To learn more about energy efficiency and begin working in this dynamic field, visit Zack Academy.