NetZero Logistics Requires Special Skills. Do We Have Enough?

Logistics and Supply Chain News

Recently an independent NetZero review was published, looking at how the UK can reach its goals. Logistics is taking a central role in the review and there are many recommendations for both businesses and the government.We spoke to Deputy Director of Policy at Logistics UK, Michelle Gardner about what the review delivers and what is to be done.

Michelle, how accurate is the Skidmore Net Zero Independent review? Does it reflect what Logistics UK’s members are experiencing and expecting?

What we find very positive in the review is that it really is an independent one. We are happy to see it covers a wide range of topics and they have clearly gathered evidence from a variety of sources. Many things have been included that relate to transport – from skills, investment and planning. The review covers an array of issues and is very thorough.

In addition, we find it helpful because it talks about things that our members are also concerned about. Freight and logistics are included and the review takes into account the evidence we submitted.

An example is the look at accelerating decarbonisation in the sector by modal shift. Innovation and implementation of new technologies is also covered, as well as the role of low carbon fuels.

One problem on this point, however, is that we do not have a government strategy on low carbon fuels at the moment, which has been delayed. We do hope that the review will help speed up the publication of the strategy.

A key area is planning where we need to ensure that it serves many purposes and actively considers and works for logistics operations. We also need to think more strategically about skills and what transport will need in the future.

Do you see a clear commitment both from the government and business on reaching NetZero targets and going beyond a review?

There is an absolute commitment on both sides. Logistics UK has a Route to Net Zero campaign and members are showcasing what they are doing to reduce their emissions. Many are looking at different ways to transition to net zero and what they can actively do now. It is clear they can’t be net zero immediately, but they are focused on the journey. net zero always receives a lot of attention, whenever we discuss it, showing the appetite of the sector on this issue.

The government has its targets and is clearly committed. But our members also want to see more strategic thought and a technology route map. Businesses would like to see what is happening when and what technologies we are likely to use, how government will support the infrastructure.

It will also be interesting to see how government reacts to the review. The review authors have published a lot of recommendations and we would like it to really shape policies going forward. The review provides very clear recommendations on how government can help support businesses further but we will now need to wait and see whether it results in policy changes.

What things are members concerned about that affect NetZero targets but are not as publicised as they should be?

Our members are concerned that they have a shortage of mechanics for EVs, for example. As these vehicles become more mainstream, companies will require more people with the relevant skills.

If we get to a point where there are different fuels for different modes, we will need the supporting skills. The industry is already struggling with finding people.

Another thing is infrastructure. We talk about it a lot but it really is important. Our members are relatively confident they will get the vehicles, even if there are currently challenges with vehicle orders. But even if there is an affordable hydrogen truck in the future, will the infrastructure be there to support them? ✷

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