Putin’s war has been the trigger for prices to top the $3 mark, but prices have been rising for many months. Before the invasion of Ukraine the price was already in the $2.70s. A year ago regular 91 cost about $2.20.
The recovery from the pandemic has been the catalyst for the increase, as major economies have cranked up their activities. It has also caused other cost pressures, including supply chain disruptions, meaning higher prices as supply can’t keep up with demand.
Unfortunately this recovery has been accompanied by a significant increase in carbon emissions. Just this week, the International Energy Agency reported that energy-related emissions increased by 6% in 2021, to their highest level, above pre-pandemic levels.
All in all, it’s a tough time for consumers, businesses… and the climate (not to mention the appalling suffering of people in Ukraine). But, there is a silver lining. As with any crisis, there is opportunity. Businesses are not impotent in the face of these challenges.
There are many things they can do to reduce their own transport costs, and those of their people. And at the same time reduce carbon emissions.
Here’s our top six. They won’t all be suitable for every business, but many will be opportunities for most.
Use vehicles efficiently
Keeping vehicles maintained well. Inflating tyres correctly. Driving smoothly. Avoiding unnecessary trips. All these actions help to keep fuel costs down.
Switch to electric
For electric vehicle (EV) drivers, the comparable fuel price is about 40 cents per litre, or just 13% of a conventional car. This means an annual energy cost saving of $3,500 per year based on average car use.
Even better if you can switch to an e-bike. The energy cost drops to just 1% of a car. Using an e-bike for a 10km commute three days a week would save $700+ a year – more savings if the e-bike is used to replace other car trips.
Yes, there is the upfront cost for EVs and e-bikes, but the government is incentivising EV purchases, and hopefully soon offering some targeted help with e-bikes.
Consider all the costs of running a vehicle over its lifetime. EECA says the total cost of owning an EV is significantly less than owning a petrol car.
Shorten your supply chains
International trade and the movement of goods has held up quite well during the pandemic. But the stuttering recovery and the oil price rise have highlighted vulnerabilities.
It’s been a good time for businesses to re-evaluate their supply chains, and where possible shorten them, ideally sourcing within Aotearoa New Zealand. This will only continue as transport costs increase further.
Support flexible working
Perhaps one of the most enduring effects of the pandemic will be our relationship with the office. For some, home working has been a challenge, but many have enjoyed the experience and the home-office hybrid arrangement.
Businesses can support their people’s wellbeing, and help to lower carbon emissions, by permanently offering flexible working arrangements.
Encourage different commute options
Driver-only car use still dominates, but there are more options for commuting in our major cities.
Businesses can help to accelerate the transition by supporting their people to leave the car at home where there are suitable alternatives.
There are various options. Providing showers and other facilities for active commuters. Removing car-based incentives like company vehicles or free parking. Subsidising public transport use. Offering e-bike purchase support schemes
As a rule, stay grounded
Over the last two years, we’ve adapted to online meetings and events. As a result, the reduction in flying has dramatically reduced the carbon emissions of many businesses (including our own). It’s also saved money.
As we adjust to post-pandemic life, let’s create a new normal by only flying when really necessary.
Check out the Climate Action Toolbox for these, and many more, ideas on how you can cut transport costs and carbon in how your people and goods move around.