Post: Journal article: The impact of sectoral economic development on the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of road freight transport

Journal article: The impact of sectoral economic development on the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of road freight transport

The branches of economy differ in the amount and characteristics of freight transport services they require and use. Thus, different branches also have different energy efficiencies and carbon dioxide emissions from transport. Previous research has highlighted a serious lack of data inhibiting the understanding of these issues.

This research presents a new method for analysing the relations between economic activity, transport demand, energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions with a great level of detail in different economic sectors. This is done for Finland by using the statistics that are available in many countries and are gathered in a harmonised manner in the EU member states. Hence, the method is applicable in other countries and enables in-depth comparison between countries. Understanding these relations is essential when national and also international policy targets for energy efficiency and CO2 emissions are set and evaluated.

The CO2 intensity of Finnish road freight transport has decreased significantly and this development is forecasted to continue. The decrease can largely be attributed to the shift of balance from transporting bulk goods to transporting parcelled goods. This shift has been driven by diminishing importance of forest cluster and growing importance of technology cluster and trade. Despite of the reduced CO2 intensity, the energy efficiency has remained at a relatively constant level and the total CO2 emissions of road freight transport have increased.

This study updates a previous national forecast for the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of Finnish road freight transport sector for the year 2016. The new national forecast makes the outlook less positive, as the CO2 emissions are forecasted to be 8% higher than in the previous forecast. This difference is mainly due to higher estimates for average fuel consumption in some sectors. Two new branch-level forecasts are also presented and these give 20% higher CO2 emission levels than the original forecast, because of projected greater economic growth.


Authors: Heikki Liimatainen, Markus Pöllänen
Article published in: Transport Policy, Volume 27, p. 150–157
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2013.01.005