The paper is a dramatic wakeup call, addressed to European and German politicians in particular. “Enough is enough; we must actively do much more than we have done so far to combat global warming,” the text reads. The instruments for this have long been available, but policymakers are not implementing them or are only listlessly doing so in response to public pressure, criticize the authors. As a result, meeting the Paris climate targets is becoming an illusion.
The appeal is supported by 42 companies that have joined forces in the fight against global warming. Among them are many heavyweights such as Deutsche Post/DHL, UPS, forklift manufacturer Liebherr, trailer producer SchmitzCargobull, or sustainable fuel suppliers Shell and Neste, truck manufacturers Iveco, Deutz, and Volvo, to name but a few. Responsible for coordinating the group’s activities is DSLV Federal Association for Freight Forwarding and Logistics Germany also supported by carriers such as Sovereign Speed, a specialist for courier, cargo handling and road feeder services.
Drastic CO2 reduction demanded
According to the Paris climate targets, road transport in Europe must almost halve its CO2 emissions by 2030, compared with 2019. For Germany's carbon footprint, that translates into an allowance of max 85 million tons, down 82 million tons from today’s emissions, averaging 164 million metric tons per year. Currently, the sector is falling short because the use of trucks and sprinters with alternative power systems is still in its infancy.
Today, about 97% of all trucks operating in Central Europe still run on fossil fuels. That is why the authors of the appeal urge that it is now time to fill the truck’s tanks with renewable fuels, thus replacing climate-killing diesel completely. This is no magic, because fuels derived from sustainable biogenic residues and waste – technically: HVO100 - Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils – are available in large volumes, say the authors of the paper.
Bullet points standing in the appeal
The common problem is that, at least in Germany, private companies are not allowed to fuel their vehicle fleets, especially trucks, with HVO100. Nevertheless, in contrast to trucks, the legislator allows diesel locomotives to be technically converted, enabling them to burn sustainable HVO100. “This unequal treatment of second modes of transport by the legislator is absolutely scandalous and must be corrected at once,” demands Hendrik Bender, VP Group Sales, Business Development and Marketing at Sovereign Speed, on behalf of the Club of 42. His company operates over 250 trucks and vans, which link airports overnight, transporting urgently needed goods all across Europe, including the UK. By using HVO100 instead of diesel, his company could reduce CO2 emissions by thousands of tons per year.
The initiators of the appeal point out that HVO is a renewable paraffinic diesel fuel with a greenhouse gas balance that is up to 90% lower compared to fossil diesel. There are no technical hurdles either, as almost all truck and engine manufacturers have approved the motors they produce for HVO100 burn - in some cases even retroactively for vehicles already in use.
It's either do or die
As more and more stringent climate protection requirements are being imposed in tenders for international logistics contracts, the use of HVO100 is becoming increasingly necessary. This results in competitive disadvantages for those companies that have so far been legally barred from using the fuel. Apart from Germany, these are only a few countries in Europe. With more than 7 million tons of HVO produced worldwide, supply shouldn’t be a major hurdle either. And the amount is growing. According to the authors, by 2025, global HVO production is expected to exceed 30 million tons. And in the longer term, scalable and sustainable feedstock sources offer further volume potential.
Therefore, Frank Huster, Director General from DSLV Federal Association for Freight Forwarding and Logistics Germany, concludes that climate-conscious freight forwarding, transport and logistics companies that operate trucks powered with diesel fuel could switch to HVO100 immediately if politicians finally gave the green light for this eco-friendly propellant. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, this would also help to limit NOx pollution significantly, he emphasizes.
Harmonization of European rules needed
Moritz Toelke, responsible for Sustainability at Sovereign Speed, adds to this: “Everybody wants the industry to take action. We are ready to do so but as a solution-oriented service provider it is frustrating to be blocked by national legislation from using available and proven solutions.”
The fact that HVO100 works well as a source of energy for powering trucks is shown, for example, by the practice in the Netherlands. Therefore, “it is inexplicable for our customers and for us that a bureaucratic barrier, set up by the German lawmakers are hindering us from using this solution across the European markets we constantly service,” criticizes the manager.
Sovereign Speed and the other 41 signatories to the appeal now expect politicians to change the rules quickly - in favor of more climate protection and the harmonization of European rules.
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