US govt’s climate plan signals shift away from trucks

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 12, 2023

A new climate strategy out of the US government signals a shift away from trucks, according to reports.

The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, released Tuesday by the Biden administration, prioritises maritime and rail over trucking to more quickly get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The plan is billed as a “first-of-its-kind” plan to cut GHG emissions in both passenger and freight transportation, building off funding incentives included in the 2021 infrastructure package and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

The blueprint lays out three main strategies for attaining its goal: increasing user convenience, improving vehicle efficiency and transitioning to clean fuels and vehicles.

“While the first two strategies will contribute to reducing GHG emissions and produce significant co-benefits, transitioning to clean options is expected to drive the majority of emissions reductions,” it said.

It also states that trucks and vans are the largest contributor to freight emissions.

“Heavy road freight vehicles in particular can be difficult to decarbonise. This energy- and emissions-intensive paradigm is a significant reason why transportation has become the largest GHG emissions source in the United States.”

The plan said using more efficient modes and vehicles is essential to reduce overall transportation emissions and energy use.

“For freight, maritime and rail offer the cleanest options, followed by trucks and aviation, which results in the highest emissions. Industry can prioritise shifting parts of shipment journeys away from trucks to rail and water shipping when feasible.”

The blueprint does acknowledge that choosing the best mode for any given trip “is complex and depends on available mobility options, as well as cost, speed, safety, convenience, and other factors. Additionally, emerging vehicle technologies and fuels will reduce emissions for many of these travel modes over time and will require an ongoing evaluation of mode-specific emissions and energy efficiency.”

It said new technologies can help improve multimodal freight transport and logistics and enable “the use of shared transport assets and services, and more effectively respond to changes or unexpected delays using real-time data”.