Stand by your ballot boxes: the LibDems have unveiled their zero carbon plan ahead of their annual conference. And in either a victory for common sense or an indictment of the road transport industry’s standing with government, trucks escape scot-free!

The policy paper, entitled Green Growth and Green Jobs, sets out how the LibDems could ensure the UK reaches zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It touches on reducing energy demand, decarbonising electricity, and financing the transition to a zero carbon economy.

Inevitably, transport as a whole comes under some scrutiny – but predictably (this is the LibDems!) passenger travel is of a much greater concern than freight.

Among the highlights are such statements as:

  • “By 2040, only ultra-low carbon vehicles will be permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes. If technology permitted, we would bring forward this date.”
  • “Liberal Democrats support setting further ambitious interim emissions targets for cars of around 70g CO2/km to take effect in 2025. We also support tightening emissions for vans, which at 147g CO2/km by 2020 are currently far too loose compared to the equivalent target for cars.”

The LibDems recognise that the taxation of aviation is “currently well below that for other sectors” and thus our long-held pet peeve – that the aviation industry doesn’t pay fuel duty – is addressed. The policy paper suggests a “per plane duty, charged in proportion to the carbon emissions created by that journey”.

The shipping industry would also be targeted with a range of measures given that “fuel used for shipping is essentially untaxed”.

The most telling statement in the document that has any bearing on the movement of freight by road is this: “Consumer eating habits are also important. [We] would adopt a National Food Strategy to secure the production and consumption of sustainable and healthy food.” While it doesn’t quite shout ‘buy and eat local produce’, it’s not far off that pipedream – and a significant move in that direction would bring about considerable change for supermarket supply chains.

But for now, the LibDems are focused on planes, trains and automobiles, and not trucks. Amen to that!