FREIGHT WEEK: Climate change an opportunity, NTC says

NTC commissioner cites need for smart infrastructure investment to cut emissions, as VTA unveils environmental survey results

By Ruza Zivkusic | September 6, 2011

Smart investment in infrastructure is needed to help reduce freight emissions, National Transport Commission (NTC) Commissioner Frank Muller says.

Speaking at this morning’s Freight Week 2011 in Melbourne, Muller believes the best way to predict the future is to invest in it.

"There’s a lot of gloom and doom around this issue. I think it’s a great opportunity to be smarter about how we go around business and all around the world – it’s about treating climate change as an opportunity and not as a cost," Muller says.

"If you empower people in the industry and give them tools and leadership they’ll find these opportunities and the satisfaction is enormous."

He believes Australia needs to shift its focus more toward air pollution because it is the lowest-ranking country addressing the problem.

"We’re past the idea that the solution of congestion problem is to build more capacity. I think we need smarter investment in infrastructure. Vehicle contribution to congestion is the overwhelming contribution and this is one reason why NTC is trying to look across passenger and freight to see ways where we can get the whole transport task work more efficiently," Muller says.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) recently conducted an environmental survey of its members, comparing it to the results of its last 2009 survey.

EcoStation Executive Officer Bob Wright says 54 percent of the members are actively trying to improve fleet efficiency.

Some 85 percent of the members have implemented fuel efficiency technologies, with 55 percent carrying aerodynamics and 40 percent focusing on alternative fuels.

Another 20 percent have introduced fuel efficient tyres and 10 percent have implemented hybrid drivetrains.

They also believe the biggest future efficiency improvements need to be made in the freight sector, freight infrastructure road networks, distribution centres, truck and driver-based technology and multi-modal freight movements.

Almost 50 percent of them are monitoring their carbon footprint with the rest collecting fuel consumption, kilometres travelled and tonnage weight on their fleets.

Only 22 percent have recorded their greenhouse gas emission, which indicates that "there is a long way to go to measure these issues directly", Wright says.

He says reduced costs, good business practice, green image and future sustainability are what motivates the VTA members.

"Anything with the word carbon in it is something businesses are paying attention to," Wright says.

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