A shift towards coastal shipping and rail transport could help to reduce emissions from New Zealand’s freight industry. A recent study found that coastal shipping is responsible for just a fifth of CO2 emissions from road freight transport, while rail accounts for a quarter of trucking emissions. However, despite these findings, trucking still dominates New Zealand’s heavy haulage market, accounting for almost 80% of the sector, and emitting 94.5% of heavy haulage emissions. While the expansion of the country’s road network has provided advantages in terms of flexibility and quickness, reliance on trucking has led to higher CO2 emissions than other modes of transport.
To achieve emissions reduction goals, a shift towards less energy-intensive freight transport is necessary. However, how a transition to new infrastructure and technology can succeed remains unclear. For this approach to succeed, an efficient multimodal transportation network integrating ports, distribution centers, rail and road is necessary. Furthermore, there is a need to identify the feasibility hurdles facing a switch towards non-fossil fuel propulsion technologies. A comprehensive approach integrating various stakeholders to develop freight transport systems with high adaptability is vital in reducing fossil fuel demand and emissions, while sustaining trade and welfare for the long-term.