Ecology and green business
Logisticians and road hauliers, we are not creators of Green Business, but consumers who use the existing and new means at our disposal to reduce inconvenience. In this way, we can make our premises less energy-consuming thanks to new insulation techniques and new types of lighting (LED rather than halogen, for example). On the road, the offer from manufacturers of increasingly cleaner diesel vehicles now allows for a significant reduction in emissions.
In December 2019, the European Commission revealed its Green Deal including an action plan for a circular economy in the industry and energy sector, but also a green investment plan. The European Directive of 18/04/2020 sets the target of a 30% reduction in CO emissions2 trucks in 2030 are moving in this direction and should normally contribute significantly to this ecological effort. But the countries of the European Union are not equal in terms of the effort required. They sometimes use the deadlines for implementing European directives to their advantage. States proclaim their ecological will while seeking to favor their national carriers. Double play or adjustment difficulties?
But the future, under the impetus of the states, by obliging the producers, seems rather to go in the direction of the use of new energy, favoring renewable energy to the detriment of fossil fuels.
What are the technical arguments for or against new energies?
all–electric: It does not emit CO2 in use, advertises a battery life of up to 22 year, but does not give sufficient autonomy to one long distance activity; all on an overall ecological balance mitigated by the insufficient production of electricity of non-polluting origin.
The fuel cell: She bids autonomy and accessibility vehicles that are largely equivalent to diesel, without CO emissions2. But the supply infrastructure and the choice of vehicles are still embryonic; all on a carbon balance of hydrogen production, which is still negative for the same reasons as all-electric.
Our goal as a carrier is to become a Green Business Maker ourselves by offering our customers the cleanest possible offer.
Biofuels: If we talk about renewable energy, it will CO2 footprint of biodiesel is catastrophic, up to 3 times as much as fossil diesel. Under these conditions, would it be reasonable to continue clearing forests to plant oil palms or growing plants used to make polluting fuel when part of the world’s population does not have enough to eat?
The oil giant Total, in its future scenario of 2017 on alternative energies, believes that diesel should remain the best alternative for long distances, followed by fuel cells for regional or medium distance transport, and electric would be ideal for local transport. Biofuels are currently mainly just a supplement to diesel and their market share should remain on the margins.
This distribution will provide the benefit of creating markets large enough in volume to allow automakers to develop new energy rolling stock while continuing to make money through the volumes produced.
Costs and profitability of the green offer
Our goal as a carrier is to become one Green Business Maker, by offering our customers the cleanest possible offer, with service at least at the same level as today, and at a price acceptable to them, and of course at the same time that they make money. This runs into a few difficulties that we need to answer:
– These new technologies are still seeking technological maturity, which is not yet the case.
– The cost, which is higher than for diesel equipment, raises the question of the reduction of the carrier’s investment capacity.
– The more uncertain return on investment, because it is associated with several uncertainties: durability and technically obsolete equipment, unknowns; rolling stock resale market not yet known; customer acceptance of any rate increase; and also the dependence of these new energies on the fiscal or regulatory stances of governments in favor or against one or the other.
We carriers are aware that we are at the origin of a important part polluting emissions.
“…heavy vehicles, which represent only 5% of vehicles driving on European road networks, nevertheless emit no less than 25% CO22 on their own…”
We also know that the expected development in world trade will increase this share if we do not initiate a better cycle. It is a time of choice and our business will have to go green to survive and thrive in an ecological economic environment that is still as competitive.
But beware of scams, fake greens, facade virtue, misleading communication.
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past that got us to where we are today. We were sold that diesel was the universal panacea by favoring it fiscally, highlighting its many (and real) advantages while ignoring its equally many (and real) disadvantages.
Green Business very often reproduces old patterns and does not escape the temptation of lobbying and disinformation. Let us be careful not, under the pressure of the emergency, to create a ‘Batterygate’.
that Green business very often reproduces old patterns and does not escape the temptation of lobbying and disinformation. Let us be careful not to create, under pressure of urgency, one “Battery port”with regard to the “Diesel Gate”.
The choices that are proposed to us must, to be credible, respect a need for transparency at their real ecological level.
Why no longer emit CO?2 with electric energy if, as a result, we let children extract lithium in the mines and if we have no solutions to recycle the millions of batteries that will accumulate at the end of the life of vehicles?
What is the point of producing hydrogen to run clean if the electricity required for production does not come from clean and renewable energy and the final balance between production and use is negative?
We want to be sure that the choices we make will effectively and significantly reduce our carbon footprint, and we will do so by choosing the most effective formulas over the entire cycle.
(1) Dumont, R. (1974). “Utopia or death!” Paris, France: Threshold.