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SU hosts international workshop on sustainable road freight transport
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 28/10/2020

The opening day of the seventh International Workshop on Sustainable Road Freight Transport hosted by Stellenbosch University's Department of Logistics kicked off via a webinar on Wednesday (28 October 2020).

This is the first time that the event, an initiative started by Cambridge and Herriot Watt University and expanded to researchers in the UK, Europe, South Africa, India and China, is hosted outside of the UK.

This annual event is now one of the most important around sustainability in logistics in the world, aiming to make logistics carbon neutral by 2050 and contributing to a global warming objective of less than two degrees.

This year's workshop will focus on transition pathways to low carbon freight transport systems in developing countries.

Over the next three days (28-30 October) there will be seven keynote speeches, 24 selected papers and two breakaway sessions where the 300 registered participants will discuss various topics.

Prof Jan Havenga, of SU's Department of Logistics, said in his opening address that having the workshop in South Africa is the first sign of it being a truly international initiative.

“We have been invited into a broader family which also include India and China – two fellow BRICS countries that make up 40% of the world's population and have a fast-growing middle class. It would be interesting to see what the carbon outcomes of that burgeoning middle class will be in the future," he said.

He said the purpose of the workshop is to take focus of two things - where we are going with this initiative and to take stock about decarbonation in general. What are the big things we need to do actually make this work and charting a global roadmap for it?

As the focus of the workshop is on the developing world, Havenga said by the end of the event they hope to “structure a research agenda for the future and think about the policy infrastructure interventions".

The first keynote speaker was Alan McKinnon of Kuehne Logistics University in Germany. McKinnon  is also the athor of the book Decarbonating Logistics.

His talk sought to look beyond the intensifying debate in Europe over choosing the right powertrain technologies for decarbonising long distance road freight.

He emphasised how important it is to reduce carbon immissions from the road freight sector.

David Cebon of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight and the UK Future Vehicle Technologies for Minimum Carbon Emisions, was the second keynote speaker.

His talk was entitled, Vehicle Technologies for Minimising Carbon Emissions.

He highlighted option such as urban delivery, long haul and hydrogen for minimising carbon emissions from vehicles.

The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight – South Africa (SRF-SA) collaboration currently includes the University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University, the CSIR, the University of the Western Cape and Tshwane University of Technology.

The SRF-SA is based on and linked to the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight in the United Kingdom (SRF).

The South African initiative is independent of the SRF, but the two are joined by a common mission and share tools, data, and expertise.

Their ambition is to create an international network of practitioners and researchers working on all aspects of sustainable road freight transport, and to facilitate collaborative research amongst the specialists in the field.

  • Photo: Josiah Farrow on Unsplash