EDITORIAL: Climate change a new stick in reform push

By: Jason Whittaker

Professor Ross Garnaut's climate change draft report makes for scary reading, a tale of rising sea levels, hotter temperatures, the

Professor Ross Garnaut's climate change draft report makes for scary reading, a tale of rising sea levels, hotter temperatures, the destruction of forests, reefs and fertile agricultural land, death and displacement on a doomsday scale.

And for trucking operators, there's something possibly even more terrifying: higher fuel bills that, for some, are already spiraling out of control.

But as business tackles the unfathomable and fundamental issue of climate change and the emissions trading scheme that will drive the dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed and drive up energy costs, there are clear business and operational opportunities that will be presented to the trucking sector.

Clearly there is the opportunity to become more environmentally friendly, to reduce emissions, probably reduce operating costs too in the long-term, and stand out in a market that will increasingly demand greener transport solutions.

Already we have seen major transport users like the big retailers write new environmental standards into their carrier contracts. As consumers demand greener products, as pressure mounts on business to reduce their carbon footprints, they will look to their suppliers for answers. Carbon, perhaps more than cost, could eventually drive the decision-making in which carrier to contract.

But perhaps more importantly, there is the opportunity to use climate change as leverage to win government support for green transport initiatives and productivity reforms.

Any wide-scale move to using alternative fuels or hybrid technology, for example, will only come with government incentives. If governments want trucking operators to run more environmentally-friendly trucks it will need to support this adoption through technology grants.

It is also widely acknowledged the best thing the transport industry can do to reduce emissions is improve its operational efficiences. That means better road infrastructure to reduce trip times and city idling, and wider access for higher productivity vehicles like B-triples to reduce the number of polluting trucks on the road.

Governments can't tell trucking operators to reduce their carbon output while denying them the conditions and tools to most effectively do it.

Every business must do and pay more in a carbon-constrained world. But governments must lay the groundwork, quite literally, to help trucking operators play their part.

What do you think? Send us your feedback.

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