UK Canal Freight Under Scrutiny: 80% Less CO2 Than Road Haulage

Only a couple of weeks ago we reported on efforts by UK supermarket giant Sainsbury's to start delivering to some of its London stores by canal. Now we hear from the ever-trusty Guardian newspaper that the politics of moving freight by canal are under close scrutiny. A report just issued by Members of Parliament is calling on the government to give incentives to companies that chose water of rail or road freight. These incentives could possibly be in the form of carbon credits, given the fact that deliveries on canals can have up to 80% lower carbon emissions than road haulage. Currently, however, just 1% of domestic freight travels by water.

Apparently this is not the first time in recent years that this issue has been looked at, and in 2000 British Waterways, the entity in charge of Britain's canal network, promised to double the amount of freight, but since then the amount has actually fallen. This is largely due to the fact that, as things stand, road and rail are more profitable. If the hidden costs of carbon emissions were to be somehow taken into account, however, canal-based deliveries might become much more common:

"The report into British Waterways calls on the government to review the opportunities for increasing freight by water and suggests a carbon credit scheme to help. It warns that the government was asking the agency to generate more income, yet expecting it to promote a generally unprofitable activity. "If the government is serious about transferring more freight on to the waterways, companies themselves require further financial incentives to make this move," the MPs add."

For more international freight deliveries, and the varying carbon intensity of different options, check out our posts on shipping vs. airfreight, and shipping vs. airfreight revisited. ::The Guardian:: via site visit::