Decarbonising the UK's Freight Transport

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources

Abstract

Like energy and automotive before it, UK freight transport is now on the cusp of a socio-technical transition away from fossil fuel dependency. This transition will require major investment to fleet and infrastructure, cause disruption to assets and business models, and will trigger significant reconfiguration. Whilst the scaling up of fossil phase-out is most likely to occur from the 2030s onwards, the next 10 years of investments are critical to enabling the transition, and to mitigating transition risks to the "hard to abate" freight sectors, and by association UK trade.

Our concept to address this challenge is for a Network of broad but interconnected academic excellence integrated with key and leading stakeholders in freight decarbonisation, that collaboratively develops and applies knowledge and understanding of rapid freight decarbonisation. We will use this Network to collect and distil current knowledge, as well as to identify and de-risk the key remaining research challenges that can unleash significant freight-decarbonisation targeted investment and guide enabling policy.

This Network connects five freight transport investments made by the EPSRC with a track record of a whole systems approach to decarbonisation of UK freight flows (international and national), and of closely integrating and embedding research with industry and policy makers alike.

The Network's efforts will be guided by a number of features of UK freight transport including: (i) significant fixed infrastructure with long timescales for investment (ii) lack of consensus on the specific technological solutions for each mode (iii) a complex combination of national and international transport systems (iv) besides the road and rail network, a limited scope for public sector investment (v) Complex governance involving a mix of UK, EU and international (UN) regulation.

The Network will align and integrate directly with UK government and existing initiatives including (i) Industrial strategy (ii) Clean Growth Strategy (iii) Road to zero (iv) Clean Maritime Council (v) UN agency fora (vi) World Bank's Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (vii) ongoing work on aligning investment to decarbonisation with: European Investment Bank, UK private sector institutions, IFC and IMF, and leading investment NGOs: 2 degrees investing, World Economic Forum, Global Maritime Forum, Global Shippers Forum, UK FTA.

To achieve this Network's objective of unleashing significant investment for freight decarbonisation, it is organised into five multi-modal and cross-cutting thematic areas and executed through a three-step approach:
Theme 1: Role of data and models for unlocking implementation decision making
Theme 2: Managing macroeconomic, policy and technology uncertainty, whilst mitigating climate risk in investment decisions
Theme 3: Fuel and propulsion technology pathways
Theme 4: Aligning drivers for decarbonisation investment/policy with local (inc. air pollution), UK, EU and Global climate policy and integrating into private sector decision making
Theme 5. Coupling the evolution of logistics with decarbonizing freight

Step 1: Refinement of current knowledge and perspectives into a focused set of research questions covering each of the five themes
Step 2: Commissioning of a series (~13) small projects which can develop further understanding of these questions and the methods suitable for addressing them
Step 3: Distillation of the Network's knowledge, in combination with the outputs of the small projects, to produce a strategy to drive freight decarbonisation investment, and an agenda and plan describing a series of further collaboration and funding activity that can sustain the Network

Planned Impact

This Network connects five earlier EPSRC funded projects on the decarbonisation of freight transport (CSRF/SCC/LCS/HS/GL) with an excellent track record of impact on high-level UK, EU and global decarbonisation policy. These projects have also set the agenda in private sector forums on decarbonisation within their respective sectors (sea and road freight) including through engaging with influential associations e.g. Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Global Maritime Forum (GMF). This Network's plans to create impact are built on these excellent foundations, trust and credibility, and will leverage the broad reach of its existing networks across both UK, EU and global stakeholders.

Since the five earlier projects, the impact landscape has progressed and there are now an increasing number of relevant UK government initiatives and private-sector activities that align investment to decarbonisation. Our impact plans therefore start with a close integration into this landscape, including integration and alignment to (i) UK Industrial strategy (ii) Clean Growth Strategy (iii) Road to zero (iv) Clean Maritime Council (v) UN agency fora, including IMO, its member governments and NGOs (vi) World Bank's Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (vii) ongoing work with: European Investment Bank, UK private sector institutions, IFC and IMF, and leading investment NGOs: 2 degrees investing, World Economic Forum, Global Maritime Forum, Global Shippers Forum, UK FTA.

Additional efforts enabled through this network include:
- The Network's Management Board and associated co-working creating an efficient integration between academia and stakeholders across multiple freight transport modes. The direct engagement of stakeholder partners into themes and the management board, to ensures buy-in to the Network's outputs, and a pathway to impact.
- A wider stakeholder "club", convened at a series of regular meetings, cross-cutting workshops and events, and following threads of activity across the themes. Our experience shows that this engagement in combination with targeted emails (e.g. on studies) to the network can have some of the highest impact, and we'll use the communication budget to enable this targeted communication with stakeholders.
- Integration of the Network's activities with undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts, to collect broad reactions and views and provide internship opportunities within the Network's partners
- Targeted work with mainstream media outlets, leveraging track record of Network members (Nat Geo, C4, BBC, FT etc) to bring broader and public engagement on the freight decarbonisation topic
- Placement/exchange - building on existing programme, esp. associated with government, e.g Department for Transport
- A focus on SME partners: since many of the technology breakthroughs and pilots are occurring in this portion of the private sector (e.g. Norsepower, ITM), we will host a series of workshops focused on ensuring a platform for these companies to share their thoughts and concerns
- A workshop dedicated to education and training requirements for both academic and non-academic insititutions, that can ensure plans and investments will not be restricted by a shortage of skills
- social media strategy - instead of a consortium website, we will resource active participation through the Network's branding, across linkedin, twitter and other social media where the business community is increasingly debating strategy for new and emerging technology.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Continued participation at United Nations International Maritime Organisation
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Continued to attend UN IMO meetings through the IMarEST delegation and engaged in technical working groups that are considering policy measures. such as short-term measures and long-term measures, for controlling GHG emissions from shipping
 
Description Membership of Clean Maritime Council
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Continue to be an active member of the Council providing guidance to the Department for Transport in decarbonising maritime sector. Ensured that ambition is in line with UK govt and international agreements.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/news/clean-maritime-revolution-starts-voyage
 
Description TRIB Decarbonisation Working Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Fed into the governments strategic review to coordinate the decarbonisation funding across TRLs
 
Description Renewable Energy Association - joint event 
Organisation Renewable Energy Association (REA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Following a successful event (financing UK freight decarbonisation) we considered a joint event to be held in collaboration with REA on mass transport and freight.
Collaborator Contribution Following a successful event (financing UK freight decarbonisation) we considered a joint event to be held in collaboration with REA on mass transport and freight.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description Ammonia Energy Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Domagoj Baresic presented at the Ammonia Energy Association conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC Radio interviews Dr Tristan Smith 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC radio interviews Dr Tristan Smith on shipping's decarbonisation options
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBC: Notre-Dame: How an underwater forest in Ghana could help rebuild a Paris icon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Tristan Smith interviewed by BBC and discusses the environmental footprint of shipping compared to other modes of transport
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-48964785?utm_source=The+Bartlett%2C+UCL+faculty+of+the+built...
 
Description BBC: Plug-in and sail: Meet the electric ferry pioneers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Tristan Smith mentioned in the article, discussing various alternative fuels for shipping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50233206
 
Description Bloomberg: Citi, Societe Generale, DNB and other leading international banks promote greener global shipping through new principles 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our work with the GMF on Poseidon Principles is reported in over 50 news channels. First of it's kind sector financial principles where UCL was the lead technical author.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2019-06-17/citi-societe-generale-dnb-and-other-leading-inte...
 
Description CNN: Shipping is one of the dirtiest industries. Now it's trying to clean up its act 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Tristan Smith discusses the pros and cons of alternative fuels in shipping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/03/business/global-shipping-climate-crisis-intl/index.html
 
Description City AM: Decarbonisation of shipping to cost over $1 trillion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our study on the costs of decarbonisation picked up by printed newspaper
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.cityam.com/decarbonisation-of-shipping-to-cost-over-1-trillion/
 
Description City AM: Set sail for the 1700s: Why the shipping industry is returning to technology from the history books 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Tristan smith discusses wind technologies and other alternative fuels for shipping's decarbonisation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.cityam.com/set-sail-for-the-1700s-why-the-shipping-industry-is-returning-to-technology-f...
 
Description Decarbonising shipping and ports 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Domagoj Baresic presented at the UK Chamber of Shipping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Does LNG have a future as a ship fuel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Carlo Raucci presented at the Green Shipping Technology Conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Financial Times: Global banks agree framework to promote green shipping 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our work with the GMF on Poseidon Principles is reported in over 50 news channels. First of it's kind sector financial principles where UCL was the lead technical author.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ft.com/content/51cf5cee-912b-11e9-b7ea-60e35ef678d2
 
Description Financing the decarbonisation of UK freight transport 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The event hosted expert led discussions on enabling greater investment in freight transport decarbonisation, that sought to answer questions on the following topics:

1. The nature of decisions investors are making today, that have an effect on decarbonisation
2. The thresholds and accuracy of evidence that investors need to make decarbonisation-aligned decisions
3. The stakeholders that they need to 'buy in' to the evidence/knowledge to move forwards

Following the event, more stakeholders had become aware of the network's presence and aware of the key research challenges/questions the network is seeking to answer
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://decarbonisingfreight.co.uk/event-item/
 
Description Forbes: Shipping Sector Comes Under Increasing Pressure To Cut Its Carbon Footprint 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Tristan Smith discusses the increasing pressure on shipping to reduce it's carbon footprint
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikescott/2019/06/28/shipping-sector-comes-under-increasing-pressure-to...
 
Description Interview with BBC Radio Humberside 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Nishatabbas Rehmatulla interviewed by BBC Radio Humberside
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Interview with BBC World News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Isabelle Rojon, interviewed by BBC TV on impact of low sulphur fuels/regulation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://u-mas.co.uk/Latest/Post/418/Isabelle-Rojon-Principal-Consultant-at-UMAS-interviewed-on-the-B...
 
Description Options for alternative fuels, including options for their production and estimates of their potential cost and lifecycle GHG emissions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Dr Tristan Smith and Dr Carlo Raucci presented at the UN IMO
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Panel member at Marine Money conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Tristan Smith was a panel member in the Marine Money London Ship Finance Forum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Project partners (academic and industry) kick off meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The kick off meeting brought together several project partners of the Decarbonising UK Freight Transport network together to deliberate on the key research questions that the network ought to answer. The partner organisations felt engaged and continue to be involved through various means including in the strategy board, reviews of proposals (for flexi-funds), etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Reuters: Banks to include CO2 emission measures in shipping loan decisions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our work with the GMF on Poseidon Principles is reported in over 50 news channels. First of it's kind sector financial principles where UCL was the lead technical author.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.reuters.com/article/us-shipping-environment-banks/banks-to-include-co2-emission-measures...
 
Description Reuters: UN's decarbonisation target for shipping to cost over $1 trillion - study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our study on investment costs to decarbonise shipping was mentioned in Reuters and led to over 30 media channels picking up this story
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-shipping-environment-cost/uns-decarbonisation-target-for-shipping-...
 
Description The Guardian: Shipping sector needs $1 trillion to decarbonize by 2050, says report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Study on cost of decarbonising shipping reported in The Guardian
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://guardian.ng/business-services/shipping-sector-needs-1-trillion-to-decarbonize-by-2050-says-r...
 
Description The Times: Shipping steers to a zero carbon future 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Special issue on shipping in The Times mentions our collaboration with Lloyds Register on zero emission vessels
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.raconteur.net/sponsored/shipping-steers-to-a-zero-carbon-future
 
Description Wall Street Journal: Major Banks to Weigh Environmental Impact in New Shipping Loans 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our work with the GMF on Poseidon Principles is reported in over 50 news channels. First of it's kind sector financial principles where UCL was the lead technical author.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.wsj.com/articles/major-banks-to-weigh-environmental-impact-in-new-shipping-loans-1156080...