A new study ‘Advancing Green Freight in Bangladesh: A Background Paper’ by Clean Air Asia, developed with the support of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, adds important knowledge on the state and issues related to Bangladesh’s freight sector and provides insights on the opportunities for advancing green freight in the country.
Freight growth in Bangladesh is outpacing its economic growth, with freight movement increasing rapidly even with a small increase in GDP. Road transport dominates freight transport in Bangladesh and trucks contribute a high proportion of transportation-related emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), criteria air pollutants like particulate matter (PM) and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon (BC). These emissions impact climate and health significantly.
Bangladesh has taken significant steps to implement policies that improve freight transport and reduce the associated externalities. There have been transformation efforts through well laid-out policies such as the National Multimodal Transport Policy, and action plans such as the National Action Plan on reducing SLCPs, but gaps are present in terms of addressing the freight sector comprehensively.
Reviews and discussions conducted in the process of developing this paper reveal that there is a general need to raise the awareness of local stakeholders in concepts relating to green freight. The interviews also point to a general lack of information on available technologies and practices and their impacts.
The paper discusses suggestions and potential course of action for moving towards a greener freight sector in Bangladesh. Establishing a national “green freight program” — which builds on public–private collaboration to accelerate the adoption of green freight practices and technologies — can be an option in Bangladesh. A Green Freight Corridor in the nation’s busiest route between Dhaka and Chittagong to test various initiatives including technologies to improve fuel efficiency is also discussed. A green port project in Chittagong is also a potential measure. Stricter vehicle emission standards and fuel standards are also discussed. Urban freight schemes can also encourage cities to develop city-level programs that can reduce the negative impacts of freight at the local level.