National governments function through their various national agencies to formulate strategies, legislation and guidelines on freight and logistics, set environmental standards, verify, provide the market with and implement technologies that reduce emission intensity, coordinate and regulate freight programs and activities among the region, and develop transport infrastructure to improve logistics.
The national government plays a fundamental role in stimulating and maintaining economic competitiveness while limiting externalities associated with the freight sector such as congestion, emissions, and road deterioration. In particular, it must build the necessary infrastructure, provide oversight and support the cost-effective movement of freight, and ensure that transportation and logistics costs are kept low. National governments also play an important role in finding synergies in the interests of their constituents, the business, transport and industry sectors and other stakeholders from across the supply chain. National government agencies work together to define the necessary legislation and guidelines for greening the freight and logistics sector. To illustrate, the national transport departments develop the transport infrastructure and systems required for optimized operation and efficiency in moving goods. The environmental departments set the standards for alleviating and monitoring pollution levels, whereas the energy departments monitor fuel consumption and focus on improving fuel efficiencies. To support this, the trade and commerce departments must ensure the availability of efficient technologies in the market.
The national government must evaluate the supply chain benefits of freight infrastructure investments so it can prescribe which transportation mode to invest in, as funds or national budgets must be allocated in competing national priorities. Having adequate funds is crucial to developing and sustaining green freight programs. Moreover, in many developing countries, the national governments often consider freight as a private sector activity which does not require any intervention and regulation until a significant externality arises. Integrating freight transportation planning into transportation planning processes is also an important challenge that needs to be addressed.