Whether we like it or not it is pretty clear that in the future the Australian trucking industry will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, in terms of low carbon transport. In the absence of a clear climate change policy from governments around Australia, industry has dragged its feet in reducing carbon emissions, but technology, globally, moves ahead.
The truck and trucking industry in Australia is a technology taker and not a technology maker. Decisions about which technology will be used in the latest trucks that we will be buying are made in the corporate headquarters in the United States, Europe and Japan, not here in Melbourne or Sydney.
As a result, the global drive towards carbon neutrality in many industries will be upon us, whether we like it or not, as each new technology is introduced into our market.
The fact of the matter is that the Australian economy needs highly efficient and extremely productive transport industry in order to maintain the kind of economic growth we are going to need in order to survive as a modern global economy.
Despite governments dragging their feet over climate policy, we can expect a much improved carbon performance from the trucking industry over the next 10 years. This will not be deliberate policy driven by legislation in our country, but instead, it will be driven by the legislation and public sentiment in North America, Europe and Japan to continue to drive down carbon emissions and to come up with efficient solutions which do not add to global warming.
We have already seen this trend happening in the trucking industry in the last couple of years. New models from some truck makers are being sold in their Euro 6 versions here for a few reasons. One is that some of the large corporations specify lower emissions in their tender documents and another is the fact that the smarts in the low emission trucks make for high efficiency and much improved productivity.
Another factor is the much more sophisticated electronics which are included in the latest high-tech trucks. As the trucking industry has become more sophisticated the need for the latest computing power on board, on the highway has become a bigger factor. Not only are these trucks more efficient and cleaner they are also considerably smarter than the predecessors.
This progress is not going to slow at any point. This week Martin Daum, who is a member of the Board of Management of Daimler and responsible for truck and bus policy globally, announced that the company’s goal is to have all carbon dioxide neutral transport on the road by 2050. The intention is for the company to only produce carbon neutral vehicles in North America, Europe and Japan by 2039.
Without a legislative imperative to do so we will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Even China is upping the ante on truck emissions, so if Australia wants to remain a high carbon economy, where are we going to buy our trucks?