It is clear that the UK needs to find ways now to meet UK and EU commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve air quality. The 2008 Climate Change Act commits the UK to reducing emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 baselines by 2050, with an interim target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 34 percent compared to the 1990 baseline by 2020.
In addition, by the end of 2015, the Government must submit a revised Air Quality Plan to the European Commission. An estimated 25 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions* are from transport (of which 21% are from HGVs). Any improvements that can be made in transport need taking very seriously. Switching heavy duty vehicles to run on gas has big benefits and the natural gas vehicle industry is poised to expand rapidly as barriers to growth are removed.
There are around 35 million vehicles operating on UK roads. Over 40% of our road transport CO2 emissions, along with nearly half the nitrogen oxide (NOx) and a substantial amount of particulate matter, is produced by just 11% of these vehicles, comprising light commercial vehicles (LCV), heavy goods vehicles (HGV), buses and coaches. And a staggering 20% of the total transport sector greenhouse gas emissions, however, come from the UK’s 208,000 HGVs.
If just one per cent of vehicles (in the four classes above) were replaced by natural gas-powered equivalents, the UK would benefit from a CO2 saving of over 64,000 tonnes per annum and a reduction in NOx emissions of some 13 tonnes. Unsurprisingly, the emission implications for each of these vehicle classes is disproportionately higher the heavier the vehicle.
It is clear that in order to reduce emissions from haulage transport the government should be supporting natural gas vehicles.