Reducing carbon emissions is inescapable, but we can help

Under the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, by 2035, the road transport industry is required to reduce carbon emissions by a massive 41% on 2019 levels. While individual companies may be able to measure emissions reductions, there is now no way to measure them across the sector.

We need the whole industry ecosystem, including government agencies and industry associations, to coordinate the measurement and management of emission reductions.

The middle-aged business owner who loves the simplicity, reliability and design maturity of diesel engines might think this doesn’t affect them or wish they could turn a blind eye before exiting within the next 10 to 15 years. We get it.

The reality is this is not going away, and needs to be faced up to before a transport business is sold or passed on to the next generation. Corporate boards and executive teams are insisting not only that their operations reduce carbon emissions but that this happens throughout their supply chains.

This is an inescapable sea change, and National Road Carriers (NRC) and our partner, the New Zealand Trucking Association (NTA), are actively working with the government to help guide our members through it with the least possible disruption. It’s natural to yearn for the good old days, but there have always been challenges – our associations were founded for that very reason.

Like climate change, safety is another area facing new regulations. Since taking the helm at National Road Carriers, I’ve had numerous conversations with transport operators, officials and industry partners on the state of safety standards in the industry.

Most New Zealand truck drivers set high safety standards and consistently meet them. The problem is a real gap between operators who do the right thing and those who cut corners. It only takes one serious accident to risk a knee-jerk reaction that would bring fast, but not necessarily good, regulation.

This is why NRC and NTA are actively calling on the regulators to work with industry to define good practice for road transport safety.

For a long time, our association members have asked for more structure, with clear benchmarks and formal recognition of safety standards. Many want to undertake continuous improvement but need a framework to enable them to promote best practice and safe behaviour. The construction and logging industries are already on this journey, with logging now having an approved framework.

It makes sense to partner with safety regulators and others in the industry to implement industry-led, work-related road-safety programmes for road freight operators to give the transport industry better certainty and direction.

We support a programme that ensures transport operators agree to a code of conduct and get accredited based on industry standards to mitigate risk and improve compliance and safety. Progress is well underway and key freight partners have met with Waka Kotahi to set up a Road Freight Safety Partnership Forum.

The New Zealand transport industry is keen to move quickly to establish a robust road transport accreditation programme. Fortunately, the industry has high safety and compliance standards, so existing business risk is well managed. But we are very conscious of the duty of care operators have to their drivers, families and other road users and that we need to ensure best practice standards are in place across the board.

An industry-led vehicle accreditation scheme will allow us to have a world-class business and risk management system that will give operators recognition and their customers’ confidence in their work practices. It satisfies a growing trend for customers to require suppliers to have comprehensive risk management systems in place for tenders and, as members are externally audited by a third party, accreditation provides robust evidence of compliance across the business.

Our job these days is almost to be a think tank, to understand the future of freight and to convey that to our members so you can be prepared for it. Our other role in new regulations is to strongly advocate for the industry with the government and the sectors, companies and people you serve through the inevitable changes.

If you’d like to know more about the safety standards we’re working on or climate change regulations, please call us on 0800 686 777 or email enquiries@