Road vs rail? Green logistics on Alpbach agenda

Road vs rail? Green logistics on Alpbach agenda

Christophe Richard (IRU)

Mon, 09/06/2021 – 09:50 Road vs rail? Green logistics on Alpbach agenda

The Alpach Forum invited IRU last week to outline the road transport sector’s vision for green logistics in a session on decarbonising freight transport at the renowned annual Austrian event.

Debating green logistics alongside IRU Advocacy Director Matthias Maedge were the board member in charge of cargo at ÖBB, Austrian Railways, and a representative from the Austrian government’s Ministry for Climate Action.

Outlining the commercial road transport industry’s roadmap to carbon neutrality, Matthias Maedge presented the five pillars of the Green Compact, the pledge to deliver net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. 

Much of the debate centred on greening land transport based logistics and, in particular, whether road and rail both need to innovate on CO2, or whether a simple modal shift from one to the other is sufficient. 

Counter arguing the perception amongst some policy makers that “all rail is green and all road is not”, IRU laid out key facts that underpin road transport’s record and responsibility on CO2 emissions. 

Accounting for the full carbon picture of the energy used in transport, known as the well-to-wheel approach, demonstrates that the reality of energy generation and distribution, combined with energy use at the vehicle or train itself, is complex and differs widely between different goods transport situations. 

“It is not possible, nor responsible, to suggest that one mode, for example rail, is inherently always greener than another. That view not only distorts reality, it distorts potential public and private investment decisions to decarbonise transport as effectively and rapidly as possible,” said Matthias Maedge. 

“Publically financed incentives and taxes should target CO2 across all modes, rather than merely bluntly boosting one mode over another, to drive greener choices for public and personal behaviour.”

Commercial road transport and its 65 million heavy-duty buses, coaches and trucks, responsible for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, is committed to continue innovating, as also shown by huge interest in IRU’s Green Compact. The global approach of the Green Compact supports the global action on energy and transport needed to address the global issue of climate change.

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