Zero-emission zones or zero-emission budget? What could work?

At the Global City Logistics Conference 2023, Professor Joubert presented the results of a study on electric truck deployment for a company in South Africa. The results show that electrifying an entire fleet may not be viable initially, suggesting a hybrid fleet as a more practical intervention in the foreseeable future.

Based on models on emissions, costs, charging requirements, customer orders, and routes, he arrived at a mixed fleet with one-third diesel trucks and two-thirds electric trucks as the best solution. The mixed fleet provided a feasible and affordable solution using the fewest vehicles and drivers. If electric trucks become cheaper and have a greater range, then the share of electric will increase over time.

The introduction of local zero-emission zones came up in the discussion. Those “hard” zones would mean that the company would need more vehicles and drivers, with more operational costs, and ultimately achieve lesser emissions reductions. Would that mean that zero-emission zones are less effective in practice? And also make it unnecessarily more expensive for companies.

Professor Joubert’s research raises the question of whether making road transport more sustainable, opting for a zero-emissions “budget,” and firmly pricing emissions would not be better. Then, companies can develop their fleets feasibly and affordably toward total sustainability.

Zero-emission zones may be unnecessarily restrictive for companies and delay the transition to sustainable road transport. A better plan might be the UK initiative to slowly phase out traditional fuel vehicles.

Walther Ploos van Amstel.

Check out the paper of Professor Joubert.

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