Thursday, 2 August 2007

Water transport promises greener way

Using coastal waters and the canal system to transport goods around the country can produce 80% less carbon emissions compared to road haulage according to a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee. That would be a pretty massive reduction in carbon emissions if all UK companies would switch form road to water freight. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen because of the higher costs involved.

Despite British Waterways promising to double the freight carried on water by 2010, the amount carried by water has dropped from 4.3m tonnes to 3.4m tonnes between 2000 and 2005. The British Waterways agency believes this is because it is uneconomic to transport goods by water in comparison.

The obvious answer would be for the government to increase the tax on road haulage to make water haulage more attractive. The government increases taxes all the time, so this would fit in nicely with their tax ethos. The other way to get more freight on Britain’s waterways is to give subsidies or tax breaks to firms using water haulage.

If the government is at all serious about reducing the UK’s carbon emission levels, this would be a very easy option to take. It may mean a slight increase in prices, or slightly less profit for the companies, but compared to the alternatives, this is a small price to pay.

[Via The Guardian]

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