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Corporate fleet managers could save millions of tonnes of emissions and €28 billion a year by tapping it available efficiency measures and clean technologies, according to a new report from analysts CE Delft.

The statistics in the report imply that corporate fleet managers have more power over the composition of our atmosphere than most politicians, or even most oil executives.

Transport is responsible for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and road transport accounts for 72-81% of that. Europe’s corporate fleets produce around 380Mt CO₂e annually, significantly more than the entire emissions of Spain.

Air pollution causes more than 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year — that’s 10 times the number killed in road accidents – and the majority of this pollution is from road transport.

Improving the efficiency of road vehicles can seem an uphill challenge, with millions of separate consumer decisions involved. However, fleet operators are responsible for 50% of new car purchases in Europe, and 54% in the UK, and can facilitate the shift to cleaner cars for private drivers, as well as improving the efficiency of freight transport.

45% of the total GHG emissions from road transport in the EU come from company fleets. However, the impact of fleet managers’ purchasing decisions is far greater than this, as the majority of company cars are sold into the second hand car market, and so fleet managers control a large proportion of the supply of used vehicles in the private market.

The Report, ‘Saving fuel, saving costs’ is a complete overview of the corporate fleet sector, the environmental impacts and financial costs of its fuel use, and options for reducing both.

In 2012, the corporate fleets of the 28 EU nations –

• Burnt 123 billion litres of fuel

• Costing €200 billion

• 32% of the total cost of fleet operation

Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Barbara Stoll said: “Fleet managers have a surprising amount of power over all of our futures, and with the rapid progress being made in clean tech, they can use that power for good, and on a grand scale. Hopefully the enormous potential cost savings will help – instead of asking for sacrifices, we’re just asking them to sacrifice a bit less to oil companies.”

The report covers a wide variety of different approaches to reducing fuel consumption and the potential savings available – which add up to billions of euros every year.

• Eco-driving – given training, changing road behaviour can cut fuel costs, and emissions, by up to 20%

• Retro-fitting – adding one aerodynamic feature to an HGV can cut fuel use by 4%. With better tyres, weight reduction and other improvements, a reduction of 45% is possible.

• Switching from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, hybrids, trains, barges and teleworking are all evaluated as cost and carbon saving measures.

Trains have been utilised by Tesco, who have already begun reducing both emissions and fuel costs.

Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco’s Distribution Director, said: “At Tesco we have reduced our transport emissions per case delivered to stores by 16% since 2011. We have done this through moving more product by rail and Double Decker vehicles and we are committed to delivering further reductions each year. By focussing our efforts in reducing emissions, it has a positive impact on the environment we live in, and continues driving further efficiencies in our business.”

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) welcomed the report and said: “In the UK, 90% of new vans and over half of all new cars were bought by companies in 2014. Combine this with the fact that, on average, company cars travel more than twice the miles of private cars and it’s clear that the fleet sector is responsible for most of road transport’s impact on climate change.

“Greenpeace’s report highlights the wide range of technical and operational opportunities for businesses to improve both their carbon footprint as well as their ‘bottom line’.”

For SMEs and other businesses using light commercial vehicles, the LowCVP is today launching a Low Emission Van Guide and web tool, to give direct practical guidance to fleet managers choosing between different models and drivetrains in different circumstances. LowCVP’s analysis shows that choosing the correct van can save a business an astonishing £18,000 over the vehicle’s lifespan.

The two reports are being released together in order to provide fleet managers with as much data as possible to support their vehicle and logistics planning.