Biofuel truck use damaging environment more than electric vehicles, says CEAC

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 3, 2021

The Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre is claiming the use of trucks with biodiesel will cause far more damage to the environment than using electric trucks.

The warning follows a report from University of Waikato Professor Environmental Sciences Troy Baisden, which looked at the pros and cons of biofuels.

Overseas studies have found that production of biofuels for use in diesel truck engines will speed up climate change, CEAC said.

“Growing, transporting and producing biofuels would have some visible impacts, just as today’s fossil fuel production has a footprint that includes mining, drilling, refining, storage and transport,” it said.

“Depending on the location, new forests might change local landscapes and economies, with specific effects such as lower river flows.”

Professor Baisden said: “In 2018, Scion estimated that converting 30% of transport fuel to biofuel would require an area three times the size of Stewart Island and use 55 truckloads per hour.

“The idea of a biofuel economy is both fascinating and uncertain because it could have dramatic effects on land use, across large areas, with potential benefits such as reduced nitrate leaching or erosion,” he said.

“Future environmental effects are hard to predict because biofuel technologies are still developing, and the future costs of energy and emissions are uncertain. But so are the costs and benefits of many alternatives.”

“Ideas and debate continue to develop regarding the use of hydrogen as a fuel, either in transport or to augment batteries, if efficiency can be improved, or for combustion where it could even be added to natural gas. But hydrogen is only green if it is produced with clean, renewable power.”

CEAC said it instead has chosen to support the Labour Government’s new plans on the Electrification of Heavy Trucks Rollout.

“We advocated to Government strongly just weeks ago,” it said.

“Offering the road freight industry a subsidy to switch reluctant operators of heavy freight trucks, to electric trucks, and further reduce the other half of the remaining (ICE) internal combustion engine fleet to use rail instead.

“Wins cannot be made by using biofuels as explained to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from road freight transport,” CEAC said.

“Clearly instead we must switch back to using low carbon emission rail freight as it is a sure winner here and the world is switching back to rail, so must we.

“We will then have a true clean low emissions road freight truck fleet to go forward now rather than later till it is to late, to protect our future generations and our environment together.”