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Greener Transport Solutions lobbies Chancellor on carbon tax

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Greener Transport Solutions has called on the Chancellor to introduce a ‘universal carbon allowance’ to help households cope with the cost-of-living crisis and accelerate the transition to net zero.

The not-for-profit cites the war in Ukraine means that oil and gas prices have risen sharply, whilst food prices have hit record highs, while last week the cost of filling up an average family car with petrol hit £100 for the first time and inflation is expected to reach 10% later this year – and as high as 14% for poorer households.

On 26th May the Chancellor announced a £21 billion package to help households with their energy bills. However, Greener Transport Solutions says further measures are likely to be needed by the autumn and has asked how the Chancellor will ensure the right level of targeted support for those who most need it whilst avoiding inflationary pressures in the economy.

Its answer is to urge the Chancellor to develop a strategy to tackle the cost-of-living crisis that will accelerate the transition to net zero and protect our energy security. Namely, he should introduce a universal carbon allowance for every individual in the UK funded by putting a carbon price on everything we consume.

This would be a very progressive measure, the organisation claims. Individuals on higher incomes would pay more in carbon tax through all the goods and services they buy, whilst receiving the same fixed allowance as those on lower incomes. According to the Treasury’s Net Zero Review, higher income households consume three times more carbon than lower income households.

The IPCC has warned “now or never” if world is to avoid climate disaster. To avoid overshooting 1.5C global emissions must peak before 2025 and fall by 43% by 2030.  Such rapid emissions reduction is possible but only if every sector of the economy is targeted. Reducing energy demand across all sectors could deliver a 40-70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Greener Transport Solutions has published a report on its ‘Pathways to Net Zero’ roundtable discussion series investigating how to decarbonise transport.

The key conclusion is that we are not seeing anywhere near the scale of change needed to achieve our net zero targets for transport.  Lack of leadership and lack of joined-up thinking undermines net zero ambitions. Spending is skewed towards road building and unsustainable transport policies.  We are still building car dependent housing developments. It says urgent focus is needed on traffic reduction.

Claire Haigh, Founder & CEO of Greener Transport Solutions, said: “The transport sector on its own cannot achieve net zero.  It’s clear that we urgently need a new approach.  We need a solution for the whole economy.

“The current crises we face all demonstrate that we must break our dependency on fossil fuels.  If we are to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, we must price properly for carbon.  This will generate the revenue needed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“Record high fuel and energy prices are a game-changer.  We urge the Chancellor to seize the opportunity to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, shore up our energy security and accelerate the transition to net zero at the same time.”

The case for decarbonising existing fleet vehicles

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Lightfoot have launched their latest video titled ‘Doing Nothing Is Not An Option’, the video makes the case for actively decarbonising existing ICE vehicles within fleets whilst concurrently planning for the electric future.

Whilst the transition to EVs is the accepted long-term solution for the fleet industry, the reality is that the supply of electric vehicles is not currently available for an all-out adoption of EV fleets, and many fleets simply do not have the resources or infrastructure to go fully electric today.

Instead of making future plans to tackle decarbonisation solely through the eventual replacement of ICE vehicles with EVs, industry-leading green-tech provider Lightfoot argues that fleets should instead be looking to their existing fleet vehicles to reduce emissions, reduce fuel consumption, and take action now to protect the planet.

Watch the video to learn more.

£30 million allocated for highway decarbonisation projects

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Cutting-edge, innovative ideas to decarbonise the country’s highways are the key aim of the £30 million Live Labs 2 competition, announced and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The funding will support pioneering projects looking at ways to decarbonise local highways infrastructure in regions across the UK. There will be a particular focus on making the construction, maintenance and running of the UK’s roads more sustainable.

Now in its second round of funding, the competition, organised by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), is the latest move in the government’s drive to create cleaner air and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The launch of the second round of the competition follows the success of the first £22.9 million Live Labs programme which launched in May 2019 and supported the creation of 8 local projects testing innovative solutions on local roads.

Previous projects included:

  • fibre cables that detect vibrations from vehicles and dynamically change signal junctions to combat congestion
  • trials involving drones to detect potholes in Kent
  • plastic roads in Cumbria to boost value for money in the construction of highways

Staffordshire County Council also secured the expertise of 2 industry leaders to install plant-based living walls to tackle roadside emissions. The walls act as natural filters made from plants and mosses as part of a national clean air trial.

Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire Council and Suffolk County Council demonstrated how the application of smart transport technology can be expanded to offer greater social value than initially anticipated.

Their project involved repurposing road sensors, typically used to monitor traffic volumes and weather conditions, to be used in adult social care.

The technology was additionally used to allow vulnerable people to live independently for longer by installing the sensors around a house to monitor daily activities, sending signals to carers when needed.

Paula Hewitt, ADEPT President, said: “ADEPT is delighted to be able to move ahead on Live Labs 2 with this new round of DfT funding and support. The highways and transport sector is the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter and although we are seeing a transition to electric vehicles, there is a huge gap where we are yet to tackle road infrastructure and maintenance.

“Local authorities are perfectly placed to lead the drive to create net zero highways and local roads from the bottom up. The Live Labs format has proven particularly successful for highways authorities, enabling rapid change, innovation and experimentation.

“Following the success of the first ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme, Live Labs 2 aims to build on the partnerships between DfT, councils, commercial partners, SMEs and academia to deliver scalable zero carbon objectives with potential for commercialisation and applicability to diverse areas across the UK.”

The ADEPT Live Labs initiative demonstrates the government’s commitment to investing in innovation to decarbonise the UK’s transport network, with the aim of making it greener and more efficient for all.

By issuing significant investments for each project, the fund aims to help local highways authorities and enterprises develop and propel their ideas to market even quicker.

University of Bath champions ‘powerful’ solution for reducing fleet emissions

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Chris Brace, Professor of Automotive Propulsion and Director of the Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) at the University of Bath, has heralded Lightfoot’s revolutionary approach to improving driver performance as a game-changer for petrol and diesel fleet vehicles.

Commenting on the industry-leading in-cab driver coaching technology, Professor Brace said: “For millions of vehicles on the road, Lightfoot is one of the only ways to reduce the amount of NOx in the real world due to its ability to change driver behaviour in real time.”

Research undertaken by the Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems shows a direct correlation between Lightfoot’s real-time driver feedback and the amount of emissions that are emitted by vehicles with internal combustion engines. The studies make it clear that adopting a smoother, safer style of driving through Lightfoot’s guidance actively leads to a reduction in CO2 and NOx within fleets.

Read more about the University of Bath’s analysis of Lightfoot.

A cleaner, greener fleet – How Asda is reducing emissions through driver engagement 

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Partnering with Lightfoot – the UK’s leading provider of in-cab driver coaching and engagement technology – has helped Asda on its journey towards net-zero, with the supermarket now saving an incredible 2,482 tonnes of CO2 per year through its grocery delivery fleet.

It’s all down to the unique technology offered by British green-tech company Lightfoot, which provides real-time feedback for safer, more efficient driving; and a rewards-based system to incentivise and engage drivers from the get-go. Many Asda drivers are now using their Lightfoot app on a daily basis and have already won prizes including an Amazon Echo Dot and a mini drone, as well as cash prizes totalling over £13,213.

Learn more about Asda’s sustainability journey

Glasgow hydrogen fuel storage project gets cash injection

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A ‘first-of-a-kind’ hydrogen storage project near Glasgow has been backed by nearly £10 million in UK government funding, which it says will help create high-skilled jobs and drive progress towards decarbonising the UK transport sector.

The £9.4 million cash boost will see the Whitelee green hydrogen project develop the UK’s largest electrolyser, a system which converts water into hydrogen gas as a way to store energy. It will be located alongside ScottishPower’s Whitelee Windfarm, the largest of its kind in the UK, and will produce and store hydrogen to supply local transport providers with zero-carbon fuel.

Developed by ITM Power and BOC, in conjunction with ScottishPower’s Hydrogen division, the state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce enough green hydrogen per day – 2.5 to 4 tonnes – that, once stored, could provide the equivalent of enough zero-carbon fuel for 225 buses travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh each day.

The announcement follows COP26, the global climate change summit held in Glasgow earlier this month, and supports the city’s ambition to become net zero by 2030. The Whitelee project will be the UK’s largest power-to hydrogen energy storage project, using an electrolyser powered by the renewable energy from the Whitelee Windfarm. This will create green hydrogen, a zero-carbon gas that is produced via electrolysis (splitting) of water, using renewable power.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “This first-of-a-kind hydrogen facility will put Scotland at the forefront of plans to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy, bringing green jobs to Glasgow, while also helping to decarbonise local transport – all immediately following the historic COP26 talks. Projects like these will be vital as we shift to a green electricity grid, helping us get the full benefit from our world-class renewables, supporting the UK as we work to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change.”

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said: “This tremendous investment at Whitelee Windfarm illustrates how serious the UK government is about supporting projects that will see us achieve net zero by 2050. In the weeks following COP26 in Glasgow, it has never been more important to champion projects like this one, which embraces new hydrogen technology while creating highly-skilled jobs. We can, and will, achieve a greener, cleaner future.”

Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power Ltd, said: ‘We are very pleased to be a partner in Green Hydrogen for Scotland and this first project, Green Hydrogen for Glasgow, will see the deployment of the largest electrolyser to date in the UK.”

Jim Mercer, Business President, BOC UK & Ireland said: “The Green Hydrogen for Glasgow project is both innovative and exciting. It will help to shape the future of energy storage and demonstrate the value of hydrogen to Scotland’s growing low-carbon economy. This project will accelerate development across multiple disciplines – from production and storage, to transportation and end use.”

Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower Hydrogen Director, said: “This blend of renewable electricity generation and green hydrogen production promises to highlight the multiple ways in which society can decarbonise by using these technologies here and now. Building on the government’s plans to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy and ensure the sector has the skilled workforce it needs, an additional £2.25 million in new government funding will support the development of hydrogen skills and standards in the UK.

“This funding, under the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, will see the British Standards Institution (BSI) develop technical standards for hydrogen products, and a consortium comprising Energy and Utility Skills and the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, will establish new standards and training specifications to facilitate the training of hydrogen gas installers.”

Centre For London calls for ‘fairer’ ULEZ alternatives

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The expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone is the most ambitious scheme of its kind in the world. As COP26 gets underway, all eyes will be on London to watch how successful the ULEZ will be at cleaning up the capital’s air.

However, the ULEZ has its limitations, according to Centre For London Chief Executive Nick Bowes, who was most recently the Mayoral Director of Policy at the Greater London Authority.

“It’s an analogue scheme in a digital age, relying on technology from 2003,” said Bowes. “Many petrol and diesel vehicles are still exempt from the scheme and extending the reach of a flat charge may incentivise Londoners to drive more to get value from their daily payments. And less well-off Londoners who rely on their cars for work and lack the means to switch to a cleaner vehicle will be particularly penalised.

“The Mayor of London should use COP26 as an opportunity to be bold and kickstart plans to replace the growing patchwork of road charges with a simpler, smarter and fairer road user charging scheme which ensures road users pay for the true cost of a journey.

Bowes instead suggests that a ‘pay-per-mile’ road user charging scheme would improve air quality, reduce congestion, encourage Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport, and help to plug the yawning hole in Transport for London’s budget. Any additional revenue could also top up the Mayor’s scrappage scheme and help Londoners exchange their polluting vehicle for a cleaner one.

“The likelihood is that at some point in the near future the government will have to introduce a nationwide road user charging scheme to replace lost fuel duties. The Mayor should grab the opportunity to go further now so that London has a system that works for the city,” added Bowes.

Question marks over LNG-powered truck sustainability claims

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Trucks powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) are no better for the climate than conventional diesel trucks and pollute the air far more than manufacturers claim, new independent tests have indicated.

Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the on-road tests, says only zero-emissions trucks like battery electric vehicles should be supported by lawmakers. It has called for gas fuelling stations to be kicked out of EU fuel infrastructure targets and an end to generous government subsidies for LNG trucks in all EU countries.

Iveco’s S-Way LNG truck emits 13.4% more greenhouse gases than its Stralis diesel truck over a 20-year timeframe, the analysis shows. As methane has a far greater warming impact than CO2 in the 20 years after its release, the recent IPCC report said rapidly reducing it is crucial to avoiding catastrophic temperature rises.

The gas truck’s emissions savings at the tailpipe are negligible, according to the Technical University of Graz, which tested for exhaust CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. T&E analysed methane venting and upstream greenhouse gas emissions. Over a 100-year timeframe, when methane is much less potent, the LNG truck emits just 7.5% less than the diesel.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “Gas trucks are a dead-end for cutting emissions and will even exacerbate the climate crisis today. Only emissions-free vehicles are capable of decarbonising trucking. It’s time for gas fuelling stations to be dropped from the EU’s infrastructure targets and for governments to stop incentivising the purchase of LNG trucks.”

T&E analysis also found that powering Europe’s trucks with renewable gas is not an option. Demand for biomethane by trucks in the six biggest European countries would far outstrip the amount available, even with generous subsidies.[1]

The LNG truck is also far worse for cancer-causing particle emissions in cities and rural driving. In tests it emitted 37 times more ultrafine particles (PN) – which penetrate deep into the body and are linked with brain tumours – than the diesel. And while the gas truck performed better than the diesel for NOx emissions, it did not deliver the 90% savings that the truckmaker claims.

Fedor Unterlohner said: “LNG trucks are held up as saviours of air quality, but tests show they pollute far more than manufacturers claim. They are also a lot worse than diesel for the smallest and most harmful particles, including in city driving, where they are used for deliveries. Ultimately, gas trucks are just another fossil fuel technology that can never clean up freight.”

T&E called on governments and MEPs to reject an EU proposal for countries to continue installing LNG fuel stations under the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure law. EU member states, such as Germany and Italy, should also end their fleet renewal and purchase incentives for LNG trucks. Other subsidies, such as the lower fuel duty for fossil gas in transport throughout Europe, should also stop. Next year, T&E said, the EU should set the date by when all new trucks must be zero emissions when it reviews the truck CO2 law.

SMMT calls for vehicle decarbonisation plans before government bans

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on government to work with industry to develop a plan that facilitates the transition to zero emission HGVs, before it commits an end of sale date for conventionally fuelled trucks.

All of Europe’s major truck manufacturers have agreed that new HGVs will be fossil fuel-free by 2040, and are investing billions in new powertrains to replace diesel, the most commonly used HGV fuel.

However, at present there is no clear technology that can provide full zero emission operations for all weights and uses of HGVs.

The need to support powertrain research and infrastructure development has been underlined by a new report, Fuelling the Fleet: Delivering Commercial Vehicle Decarbonisation. SMMT analysis has revealed that the commercial, technological and operational barriers currently associated with new technologies such as batteries and hydrogen meant that in 2020, only 0.2% of HGVs were alternatively fuelled – contrasted with cars, which reached this proportion in 2007.

Battery electric van usage, meanwhile, reached 0.3% in 2020 – the same proportion as cars in 2019. Uptake rates for electric vans have continued to grow rapidly, reflecting how battery power can effectively replace fossil fuels in this vehicle class, but just 2.6% of new vans registered between January and July 2021 were battery electric vehicles (BEVs), compared to 8.2% of cars.

Established manufacturers have already brought a range of fossil fuel-free HGVs and vans to market, while several new players have also entered the market with dedicated zero-emission commercial vehicle portfolios. With new technology comes new opportunities and the UK, as a manufacturer, of vans, trucks and other HGVs must accelerate the transition to fossil fuel free commercial vehicles and their component parts.

To achieve this, the SMMT says the government should develop a roadmap that supports UK manufacturers and the supply chain, creating a strong domestic market and helping companies seize the opportunities that emerge.

Specifically, it says the UK needs a dedicated public HGV charging network, as only operators who can afford to invest in expensive depot infrastructure and operate on a back to base model can currently make the switch. This network needs to be rolled out urgently – ACEA forecasts that by 2030, the UK will need 8,200 public HGV charging points, equivalent to more than two new charge points opening every single day until the end of the decade. Alternative technological solutions, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, face an even tougher challenge with only 11 refuelling locations across the country.

Decarbonising the commercial vehicle sector will therefore need more support from government and other stakeholders outside the automotive industry. New technologies need new skills, so the workforce that maintains these essential vehicles must have access and support for the training courses essential to high voltage and other system work. Above all, the industry needs a stable, long-term regulatory and fiscal strategy to deliver a vibrant zero emission HGV market so that manufacturers and operators can confidently plan and prepare for the future.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The industry is committed to be fossil fuel free, but there is not yet a clear technology path for every weight class and every use case. Before it sets a deadline for the sector, the government must support the technological development and market proposition and provide the right framework, so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plans before bans is the key.

“Vans face fewer obstacles in this decarbonisation journey than HGVs but adoption rates remain low, driven by the lack of charging points and higher operating costs relative to diesel. The new models are there, with many more coming, but without investment in incentives and infrastructure, the commercial vehicle sector will struggle to meet our shared ambition to reach net zero.”

Low emissions car registrations hit record share in Europe

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According to data from 26 European markets, new car registrations slowed in July, recording a year-on-year decline of 24% as total volume decreased from 1.27 million units to 967,830 – But low emission cars took a greater share of sales than ever before.

Similar results were recorded in July 2012, when the market registered 966,090 units. The year-to-date results remain positive, up by 17% compared to 2020 with 7,381,735 units registered, but down by 24% when compared with January to July 2019.

Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, which analysed the data, said: “Despite the efforts of national governments to boost consumer confidence, the impact of the pandemic is still being felt by the industry.”

While volume increased in Norway, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Romania, Estonia, Ireland and Lithuania, this combined accounted for only 8% of total registrations during the month.

In contrast to the overall trend, consumers in Europe continued to buy more low emissions vehicles. In July, a total of 160,646 BEV and PHEV vehicles were registered, accounting for almost 17% of total registrations. This is the second highest monthly market share after June 2021, and the third highest ever in Europe – BEVs accounted for 47% of that total.

Munoz added: “Consumers continue to respond positively to the deals and incentives attached to EVs which have made these vehicles far more competitive in terms of their pricing. But despite becoming increasingly popular, consumer uptake has not been enough to offset the big drops posted by diesel cars.” JATO data indicates that between July 2019 and July 2020, the market share for diesel vehicles dropped by just over 2 points, while their market share dropped by almost 8 points between July 2020 and July 2021. During the same period, the market share for EVs grew by the same amount lost for diesel vehicles.

The market share for gasoline cars has steadily declined from 63.4% in July 2019 to 59.8% in July 2020, and to 59.0% last month.

Munoz continued: “We are beginning to see the impact of campaigns that favour EVs over ICE vehicles playout in the market, however the industry is not yet doing enough to enable EVs to absorb the losses sustained by traditional powertrains.” While diesel registrations decreased by 166,000 new units between July 2020 and July 2021, and almost 207,000 between July 2019 and July 2021, EVs gained only 49,000 units between July 2020 and July 2021, and 125,000 units between July 2019 and July 2021.

In July’s model rankings, the Dacia Sandero secured the top spot for the first time since its launch back in 2008. Thanks to the new generation, the subcompact posted significant gains in Germany (+15%), Romania (+24%), and topped the rankings in France and Spain – alongside being the 8th best-selling car in the year-to-date rankings.

The Sandero’s volume fell by only 2% compared to July 2019, while other leaders such as the Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Polo, Dacia Duster, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Tiguan, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Skoda Octavia, Peugeot 208, Mercedes A-Class and Renault Clio, posted drops between 17% and 52%.

Last month, there were also strong performances in the SUV segment as both the Hyundai Tucson and Ford Puma entered the top 10. JATO data shows that SUVs recorded the highest ever monthly market share in Europe during July at 46.1%.

Although the registrations volume fell by 15%, these vehcicles gained market share at the expense of larger declines posted by the traditional cars (-28%), MPVs (-48%) and sport cars (-37%).