Road freight transport is essential for the economy and the functioning of society, but it is also one of the main culprits in the climate crisis. It is estimated that it moves 95% of the merchandise in a country highly dependent on this method of transport, as is the case of Spain. As a consequence, it is responsible for 9.8% of greenhouse gas emissions (8.19% corresponds to trucks, and the remaining 1.63% to vans).

Its decarbonization is one of the greatest challenges in terms of climate action. And Spain is not on the right track, according to the study Possible Options and Technological Ways to Achieve Carbon-Free Road Freight Transport in Spain.

Carried out by the consulting firm Cambridge Econometrics, the report warns of the need to advance the dates scheduled for the end of the sale of vans with internal combustion engines (scheduled for the year 2035) and trucks with this technology (set for 2040). . It also urges taking additional measures focused on the anticipated reduction in the use of this type of polluting vehicle.

The good news, which also comes from the hand of the Cambridge Econometrics study, is that it is estimated that electric trucks will be competitive around 2025 with respect to internal combustion trucks. However, for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to also be competitive, we will have to wait until 2030.

These estimates may vary depending on the greater or lesser speed with which these technologies (batteries, recharging systems and fuel cells) and fuels (green hydrogen) can decrease in cost, as well as the evolution of the expected increase in the costs of fossil fuels (diesel, gasoline, natural gas), now skyrocketing due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In this sense, the person in charge of freight transport policies at Transport

In addition to investing more in innovation to advance electrification and the deployment of recharging infrastructures, other measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the freight transport sector were pointed out in the presentation of the report. These are a greater commitment to rail transport and the use of digitization as a tool to optimize consumption and reduce empty returns.

For her part, the General Secretary of Transport and Mobility of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, María José Rallo del Olmo, indicated that “only by renewing the fleet could emissions be reduced significantly”. The general secretary explained that the average age of the Spanish car fleet is 13.1 years, 2.3 years more than the European average.

Bravo put hope in the next regulatory changes: “In addition to the current review of the regulations on CO2 emissions of vans and, soon, of trucks, by the European Union, the discussion of the current draft Mobility Law Sustainability opens up a wide range of possibilities for improvement in Spain in this area”.

The European Union –and Spain as a member country– has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.