The RHA is calling on the government to set out a national road map to decarbonise freight over the next 25 years which respects vehicle life cycles and supports business investment.

In its strategy paper, Vision to Decarbonising Road, published this week, the RHA argues that a freight decarbonisation road map will give the freight sector greater confidence to invest in low carbon and no carbon solutions.

It adds: “This is vital for a sector where decarbonisation, especially for large road vehicles, is particularly difficult.

“We believe that market-driven solutions are best-placed to achieve freight decarbonisation and to stimulate the innovation needed in a sustainable way. This can only be done if vehicle life cycles are respected and businesses' investment is supported by clear rules.

It also calls on the government to plan any decarbonisation strategy carefully, to avoid “short-term knee-jerk reactions” and to provide a regulatory framework that will not retrospectively undermine hauliers’ investment in new technology.

“This requires policies and plans against which vehicle makers, vehicle purchasers, supply chains, people and policy makers can make decisions. “Fundamental to this is the need to ensure that investment in vehicles and infrastructure is supported – with national and international standards to drive change being introduced in line with vehicle and infrastructure life cycles,” the paper argues.

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The RHA also warns against local initiatives that do not align with the central decarbonisation road map. “Failure to work within cohesive national and international standards will undermine investment, add cost, and will result in poorer outcomes,” it warns.

Launching the strategy paper this week, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “The time for talking about the environment is over. We need clear global action to tackle climate change, and I am determined that the UK logistics sector will do its bit.

“The Government must ensure supportive policies exist that give our members the confidence to plan for a green future. By contrast, policy “mis-steps” such as clean air zones which have undermined trust must be avoided.”