Paul Barker's blog - 12 July: NOx and the issue of uncertainty
12 July 2016
Our recent meeting with research expert Emissions Analytics threw up plenty of fascinating information, but highlighted just how tough it is for the industry itself - plus commentators and informers such as ourselves, let alone busy fleet managers with plenty else on their plate - to navigate around the issues surrounding emissions.
The uncertainty over NOx emissions is making it so much harder to plan for the future. I've preached before about how this industry thrives on certainty, and while everyone has at least one eye on the Brexit fallout, local air quality and how to improve it, is still a huge issue that could bite hard.
New London mayor Sadiq Khan's plans to widen the Ultra Low Emission Zone are likely to only be the start, but there's no strong national leadership on whether we'll start taxing on NOx rather than CO2, whether both will be of equal importance (when to some extent they are competing goals), or whether NOx is a passing fad and will be forgotten in a couple of years. (Clue, it's probably not the last one.)
And then there's the information flow. Until Emissions Analytics started making its results public, most decision-making in this area was based on a combination of educated guesswork and incomplete information. And there still isn't clear and concise guidance on how to do the best thing for the planet, the balance sheet, the company and the driver. It'll emerge in time, but at the moment we're continuing on a path of confusion, and there doesn't seem to be much by way of light at the end of the tunnel.