The current pilot initiative to introduce biofuels in the Dutch freight sector and to implement a carbon label was organised in a top-down approach. The sector organisation Productschap Tuinbouw decided to start a biodiesel project with freight companies to contribute to sustainability goals of the sector. The transport companies had not been involved up to the moment that the project was set-up and the decision to use carbon labels had already been taken without a detailed assessment of consumer attitudes.
Thus, it can be recommended to use a bottom-up approach in future carbon labelling initiatives in the freight sector. It should be ensured that the transporting companies feel that there is a need to use labels to promote the message of ‘clean transport’ to costumers or the general public.
The Dutch pilot initiative clearly indicated that a very large effort is required to start a high-blend biofuel project in a country without tax incentives for these fuels, the only incentive for the introduction of biofuels being an obliged market share (2% by energy in 2007, 3.25% in 2008) for biofuels.
A further recommendation, therefore, is that projects to reduce the carbon emissions (in transport as well as elsewhere) should be realised first before carbon labelling initiatives are implemented in order to reduce the overall complexity of the projects. After the introduction of carbon reduction measures (such as the introduction of biofuels), the value of carbon labels can be better assessed through dedicated consumer surveys. Good understanding of the consumer acceptance and potential added value of a label is a necessary pre-requisite for the introduction of labelling initiatives.
Carbon labels are an attractive tool to promote ‘clean transport’ and the reduction of GHG emissions in transport services. However, currently detailed consumer surveys on the effectiveness of carbon labels in the freight sector are lacking. A final recommendation from the Carbon Labelling project would therefore be to perform further and detailed consumer surveys in the European freight sector.