SFC, IEA and European Commission at ‘The Future of Road Freight Transport’

Road freight generates two-thirds of freight and 7% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Reducing oil demand and emissions to a level compatible with the climate goals of the COP21 Paris Agreement will require greatly improving the efficiency of road freight vehicles and, more broadly, of the freight operations and logistics themselves, on both a European and international level. However, to date, policies to reduce oil demand from road freight and curb associated CO2 emissions are limited.

The International Energy Agency and Friends of Europe jointly organized the High-Level Conference and Global Launch of the IEA Report on “The Future of Road Freight Transport”. For the publication and a full podcast of the event click here 

Sophie Punte, Executive Director of Smart Freight Centre took part in the panel together with Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director; Maroš Šefčovič Vice President of the European Commission and responsible for EU’s Energy Union; and John Cooper, Director General at FuelsEurope.

Facilitated by Dharmendra Kanani, Director of Strategy at Friends of Europe, the panel discussion focused on required policies, freight modernization and the roles of energy efficiency, logistics and alternative fuels.

Sophie Punte pointed to the commercial nature of the freight sector and the need to consider the 3 C’s of business: compliance, costs and customers. Putting freight efficiency efforts in the broader context is important: the Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, but also the Low Emissions Mobility Strategy and Mobility Package of the EU.

But above all, she argued, we need LEADERSHIP from business, governments and civil society. As example, she cited the development of a global method to calculate logistics emissions by the SFC-led Global Logistics Emissions Council or GLEC. This GLEC Framework will enable companies to track their emissions more consistently and make better and faster logistics decisions. Soon any data from trucking will be available, but what data is useful and what data can be shared remains unclear. As a policy recommendation, she suggested that the EC and IEA could play a role in developing guidance on how data exchange can take place. The importance of data was underscored by Maroš Šefčovič who said “Data is the new transport fuel and is driving freight sector transformation.''

Electrification versus other energy forms to fuel road freight came back throughout the discussion. Maroš Šefčovič also announced the establishment of a Clean Energy Forum to discuss the transition to a new energy world and asked for examples of where collaborations have worked. The approach that SFC took to developing the GLEC Framework also is a good example of how collaboration between business, government and civil society can work well. Ingredients for success are a common goal, clear plan, allocated resources and roles, and early wins. The release of the GLEC Framework within 2 years created momentum and confidence that harmonized emissions accounting can work.

Another key discussion was around what to do on urban freight. Sophie Punte shared the guidance to develop urban freight plans and examples of existing plans that SFC just released. She urged the EC and IEA to consider developing more detailed guidelines for cities on how to develop and implement sustainable urban freight plans. 

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