The UK Government must take urgent action on policy to ensure the electrification of nearly half a million HGVs if it is to maintain net-zero targets, according to a new report from the Green Finance Institute (GFI), an independent research and finance organisation backed by the UK Treasury and other bodies.
The report, published just one day ahead of the beginning of major international climate summit COP28, estimates that £100bn ($126.26bn) of investment will be required from both the public and private sectors to sufficiently electrify the UK’s HGV sector ahead of decarbonisation targets.
First, the report outlines key barriers to decarbonisation including the high capital cost of transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles, a fundamental lack of charging infrastructure across the country to support large-scale electrification, issues with vehicle suitability and availability, technological uncertainties surrounding the debate over battery electric versus hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and the potential impact on HGV operations, which could in turn impact industry.
It suggests ten financial mechanisms and policy recommendations that could support fleet decarbonisation, with the most important being the scaling-up of charging points across the country. UK advisory bodies the National Infrastructure Commission and the Climate Change Committee have also both raised concerns in reports published this year over the unequal distribution of electric vehicle charging points. In London and Scotland, charging capacity per capita far outweighs the rest of the country, with Northern Ireland faring the worst.
A “stable and supportive” policy environment is needed to drive investment in HGV decarbonisation at the pace required to meet net-zero targets. Although the UK Government has set deadlines for bans on the sales of new diesel trucks, more must be done to ensure that these deadlines can be feasibly met.
Emissions from HGV fleets account for nearly 20% of all transport emissions in the UK, despite making up just 1% of overall road traffic.
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Chris Jones, ecosystem director at innovation agency Connected Places Catapult, said: “Heavy goods vehicles are a big part of the puzzle when it comes to driving down transport emissions… Technology must go hand in hand with policy and investment as we seek to scale solutions. This report proposes mechanisms for driving widescale adoption of zero-emission HGVs.” He added that the findings of the report are “essential reading” for policymakers in the space.