Greening of Freight Transport

As a major contributor to GHG emissions, freight transport also must be a part of the solution. This topic is evolving rapidly through innovations, new solutions, and experiences and will be of the utmost importance for road managers and public authorities. This document presents a number of good practices. The purpose of these fact sheets is to highlight projects, initiatives and policies that have been utilized by PIARC member countries to make freight transport greener with the goal of reducing its GHG emissions.

The United Nations’ target to combat global warming involving close to 200 parties, is holding the increase in the global average temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To reach the climate targets, it is likely that all transport modes and all countries must strive to reach zero emission (ZE) by 2050. By 2030, many countries are dedicated to halving their emissions. Major changes to the truck fleet must take place during the 2020’s for road freight transport to contribute to the 2030 climate target. Countries, regions, states, and cities need plans, strategies, and programs for the greening of freight transport. In addition to these plans, strategies, and programs for greening, this document identifies four approaches to reducing GHG emissions:

Approach 1 is to have less emissions from each vehicle. ZE vehicles are most effective in this approach but use of eco-friendly climate neutral fuels and eco-driving will also reduce emissions. The vehicle could drive the same distance and transport the same amount of goods but cause less emissions.

Approach 2 is for each vehicle to drive less and transport more goods (massification). More efficient logistics and supply chains will contribute to this and often with increased profit for the shippers and clients. Massification is about increasing the carrying capacity per vehicle with longer and heavier trucks. Raising road transport prices is another way.

Approach 3 is to reduce the demand for transport by fuel vehicles. More efficient change between transport solutions and modal shift are examples of this approach. Switches from trucks or vans to bikes or small ZE transport units are other examples. These approaches can be economically beneficial, if the demand for transport is high enough and the logistics and supply chains are efficient.

The last approach is to reduce emissions concerning transport related to construction activities. Introducing ZE vehicles and devices are so far expensive measures. However, the potential for reducing emissions by demanding less transport and using less CO2-intensive materials are high, making this an interesting topic for greening.

Implementation of these good practices can contribute to reducing environmental burdens of freight transport and could help with reaching climate targets. Most of the approaches presented can be applied in other countries taking into account the local requirements and framework conditions.

Information sheet

  • Date: 2022
  • Author(s): Comité technique / Technical Committee / Comité Técnico B.4 Transport de marchandises / Freight / Transporte de mercancias
  • Domain(s): Freight Transport
  • Type: 2022R08EN - Fact Sheets
  • PIARC Ref.: 2022R08EN
  • ISBN: 978-2-84060-683-3
  • Number of pages: 49

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