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Recommendations for climate-friendly road freight transport

Road freight transport in Germany emits around 40 million tons of CO2 annually, which is about a quarter of the total greenhouse gas emissions of transport. A further increase in road transport is expected. For freight transport to make a relevant contribution to climate protection, there must be a switch to alternative propulsion systems and fuels. Even if the potential for shifting to rail is fully exploited, the pressure to act remains high for trucks.

Electric trucks, powered by battery or via overhead lines, are particularly promising, as the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, the Öko-Institut and the ifeu-Institut state in a joint working paper (German only). Electric trucks reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower operating costs and can offer economic advantages.

For these advantages to take effect and for market players to be able to make medium- and long-term investment decisions, rapid, decisive and reliable government action is necessary. This requires ambitious efficiency standards for trucks, taxes and tolls based on CO2 emissions, and the development of the necessary infrastructure.

The switch to alternative drive systems such as overhead line trucks can only succeed if these are tested and further developed at an early stage. Large commercial pilot projects help to gather practical experience and take into account the requirements of market players and society. They are important stages on the way to a long-term strategy for climate protection in road freight transport. The investment risks for the next steps are manageable. There is also evidence for potential synergies between different infrastructures, for example between overhead lines and stationary charging points.

"Today, we have sufficient knowledge to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different technologies for freight transport. A fundamental improvement in the knowledge base is not to be expected in the coming years," summarises Julius Jöhrens, project manager at the ifeu - Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg. "In view of the urgency and scale of the challenge, high-potential technologies should now be tested on a larger scale and with the necessary government support.


Working paper "Alternative drives and fuels in road freight transport - Recommendations for action in Germany" by Öko-Institut, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI and ifeu - Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (German only)

Joint press release by Öko-Institut, Fraunhofer ISI, ifeu; Freiburg/Berlin, 30 October 2018 (German only)