Climate Change

09 Mar 2023

Sustainable logistics transportation is a must to achieve Net Zero Emission target by 2070

Consumerism has given rise to an e-commerce and retail boom, and digital technologies have contributed to the acceleration of this growth. As an outcome of the same, with the development of roadways, road transportation has become a critical element in the logistics service delivery framework. According to a Niti Aayog report, road transport, which is dominated by trucks, accounts for the majority – nearly 70 per cent – of domestic freight demand. This dominance will persist even in the foreseeable future. However, the grim reality which can no longer be brushed under the carpet is that road transportation is one of the major contributors to increasing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

The July 2022 report of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) notes that the freight movement has increased by 125 per cent between 2005 and 2020. Trucks alone accounted for 65 per cent of the freight movements in 2020. In September 2022, Niti Aayog predicted a four-fold increase in the trucking market by 2050. The number of trucks is expected to swell to 17 million by 2050 from 4 million in 2022, riding on a five-fold increase in freight service demand, as per the same report. So, there is an urgent need to decarbonize the trucking ecosystem. 

The environmental cost of fossil fuel-powered logistics operations necessitates the adoption of green logistics practices. Making the trucking journey green should be prioritised by companies that are committed to building environmentally sustainable logistics operations.

According to CEEW, 79 per cent of trucks should be electric, with the remainder running on hydrogen to meet the 2070 net-zero target. And the journey to greening the trucking journey needs to gain momentum now.

Green trucking is about making trucking operations environmentally sustainable by adopting alternate fuels that reduce carbon emissions and integrating technologies to make trucks more fuel-efficient. There are several initiatives being undertaken around the world on green trucking, which not only saves costs but also builds a responsive corporate image, apart from making the world more livable.

India is accelerating its efforts to go green in the freight movement. In fact, trucks can play a prominent role in this decarbonization journey. Niti Aayog has, meanwhile, listed two alternative models for Zero Emission Trucks (ZET). One is battery electric trucks, and the other is fuel cell electric trucks, which use electricity from green hydrogen.

ZET can emerge as a game changer from a competitiveness and sustainability point of view. But there is a long way to go, as more investments and research are required to ensure broad-based acceptance and deployment of ZET. Battery trucks are facing weight challenges while developing hydrogen, which poses challenges in production, storage, infrastructure, and technology. Hence, more impetus is required on the policy front in the form of direct or indirect incentives. Reducing the purchase price of electric trucks, waiving road taxes on EVs, or making budget allocations to promote ZET manufacturing will push this green drive.

The world is steadily moving towards zero-emission freight transport. Developed economies have already initiated the transition to clean energy systems. The growing consumer awareness and commitment of corporations towards environmental sustainability are the key catalysts that are accelerating the movement towards a zero-emission freight transport goal. Increased awareness has made the transportation sector more cautious about reducing carbon emissions. The environmental and social implications of transportation are under sharp focus, and the renewed attention will spur ZET adoption for both short-haul and long-haul transportation.

India has achieved a 24 per cent reduction in the emission intensity of its GDP between 2005 and 2016, and the government is committed to cutting down the emission intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent by 2030. However, given the rising population, rapid urbanization, and growth of ecommerce and retail will continue to scale up the demand for logistics transportations. Therefore, companies need to make trucking journeys envi


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