The industry can’t afford to sit on its hands and wait for legislation on carbon reduction targets, says Simon Chapman

The opportunity for a legally binding global commitment to tackling climate change came and went with the Copenhagen summit late last year.

The work that goes into getting 150- plus world leaders together to argue, discuss and then agree on carbon reduction limits means we could be waiting a long time for effective targets to be put in place. As we are all too aware, climate change is simply too important to ignore. In the absence of international accord, it is up to business to grasp the nettle.

Earlier this month, the Secretary of State for Transport backed a new scheme from the Freight Transport Association (FTA): the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS).

The scheme gives companies reliant on an efficient supply chain (which, let's face it, is most) the means to not only report and ultimately reduce their own carbon dioxide emissions but also help build an accurate picture of the logistics sector's total carbon footprint: something that has up until now been sorely lacking, making it difficult for industry bodies such as the FTA to quash the "let's-tax-lorries-off-the-road" policy that pervades Whitehall and Westminster.

Lord Adonis has acknowledged that carbon emissions from logistics account for almost a third of total domestic transport emissions, so the political imperative is there. We just need to ensure industry plays a full role in achieving greater environmental performance without doing irreparable damage to businesses.

The LCRS is a clarion call for companies to rally and record an entire sector's carbon output. By arming government with hard evidence we can direct future environmental policy and meet individual corporate carbon reduction commitments.

The scale of the task is considerable given there are 400,000 trucks and three million vans out there helping to keep UK business running, which is why industry support for this scheme is so important.

Already, thanks to companies such as Arla Foods, who have seen the value of a collaborative approach, the LCRS represents about 28,000 commercial vehicles. We hope the scheme will become a persuasive and, above all, reliable voice.

Simon Chapman is chief economist at the Freight Transport Association.

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