ATA says fuel must be part of emissions trading scheme

By: Jason Whittaker

The trucking industry is being urged to support the inclusion of transport fuel in the coming emissions trading scheme or

The trucking industry is being urged to support the inclusion of transport fuel in the coming emissions trading scheme or risk significantly higher regulatory costs.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says the industry will face a stark alternative if the Government excludes fuel from the scheme because it may mandate the use of particular engines or new vehicles, set emission levels or call for more freight to be carried on rail in order to ensure carbon emissions are reduced.

ATA Communications Manager Bill McKinley says including fuel in the scheme will have a less impact on operators than if they are forced to spend large amounts of money complying with various regulations.

He says trucking operators will be able to pass on to customers any increase in the price of fuel to ensure they stay financially viable. But the regulatory alternative, he says, means companies will be forced to comply with set rules which may not be in their best interests.

"If you impose a regulatory standard then that is the end of it. Whether or not your business can afford it, if you want to stay in business you have got to go out and upgrade your equipment," McKinley says.

The ATA expects fuel prices to rise by 10 to 13 cents a litre once an emissions trading scheme takes effect. McKinley says the increased costs will add to an expected 20 cent per litre increase in the price of diesel in the coming months.

As such, he says it is critical trucking companies ensure they are well-positioned to pass on these costs to customers through fuel levies. Unless they do so, McKinley says operators will not survive in a period of record-high diesel prices because they will not be able to absorb increased costs.

"Some trucking companies are going to have to increase their charges by more than 10 percent to stay on top of the rising price of diesel," he says.

"It is critically important the trucking companies sort out what their costs are and put measures in place so they can recover their fuel costs from their customers."

McKinley says the ATA is consulting heavily with the Department of Climate Change to reduce as much as possible the financial burden the industry will face once emissions trading starts in 2010.

"We don’t want to pay any more for fuel than we have to, but we would argue that of all the alternatives that we have emissions trading is the best one in the long term for the industry," he says.

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