The path to low-carbon solutions

The European Union announced this month that it will begin to label some nuclear power and natural gas plants, under certain conditions, as sustainable investments or “transitional green energy sources.” Critics call this greenwashing, saying it promotes investment in harmful energy sources to the environment, while others are calling it a solid compromise.

The EU aims to be climate neutral by 2050, and the European Commission has stated that this classification is crucial to meeting the goal. 

The idea is to steer private and public investments into new nuclear plants and gas-fired power stations. Proponents are saying that nuclear and natural gas plants will be supported as bridges until renewable sources like solar, wind and hydrogen are viable options to replace fossil fuels.

As it relates to the trucking industry, switching to zero-carbon emission vehicles has been a difficult task for everyone.  Two of the biggest barriers to entry for making the switch to zero-carbon emission vehicles are charging infrastructure and cost. When it comes to infrastructure, there needs to be significant investment in charging stations along with the reinforcement of power grids so that they can support this increase in electrical usage. And while large fleets may be able to make large financial investments in upgrading their fleets, smaller fleets may not have the capital to spend on upgrading their trucks to zero-emission. 

While better for the environment, all change requires some sort of transitional period. And using language like “transitional” does come with the risk of staying in the “transitional” space, setting aside the polluting behavior to deal with later as opposed to quickly moving forward. This risk could be what keeps the industry moving in the right direction.

“We’re not going to encourage change fast enough unless there is some potential risk involved. Hopefully it’s a consensus risk that we are all taking towards a common goal,” said Tyler Cole, director of Carbon Intelligence at FreightWaves.

With an increase in population predicted in the coming years, the freight and logistics industry will continue to grow and therefore contribute to global emissions, which is predicted to double by 2050. While the industry doesn’t have all the solutions or resources to mitigate this today, companies like Convoy are working to bring awareness and drive change. For example, Convoy’s #NoEmptyMiles campaign highlights the 87 million metric tons of carbon waste produced by empty miles in trucking each year and offers recommendations for how the industry can help reduce this amount of carbon waste.

Editor: Britni Chisenall