The future challenges in global freight transport (FT) are to a certain extent contradictory. On the one hand, the economy is based on a functional and efficient transport system, on the other; transport is one of the worst polluters of the modern world. Transport is responsible for 23per cent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the European Union (EU). The contribution keeps increasing. To achieve climate neutrality, a 90% reduction in transport emissions is needed by 2050 (The European Green Deal, COM(2019) 649 final).
It is clear that clean tec and digitalization alone is not enough to reach the set target. In addition a behavioral shift in the FT sector is needed. Our Consortium intends to explore how thus far untapped institutional and market incentives, such as emission information, can steer global FT toward a more sustainable trajectory through a systemic shift towards FT sustainability.
We intend to show how a systemic shift can be achieved through addressing the information-action gap regarding emission information transmitted through the Global Value Chain (GVC). The problem is that existing emission information available to some GVC stakeholders is not acted upon when key sustainability-affecting decisions (such as changes in transport infrastructures or fuels) are made. This in spite of consumers’ likely support for acting upon such emission information. We hypothesise that by bringing emission information to light, a behavioural and systemic change towards a more sustainable FT industry will arise.
The great global challenge, to which transport emission cutting targets of 60% of 1990 emissions by 2050, relate, is global sustainability, i.e., economic, social and environmental progress while staying within ecological planetary boundaries. The dilemma of maintaining competitiveness while starting to respect planetary boundaries has recently been approached with the idea of turning the EU market into a circular economy instead of a linear one. Despite the fact that transport is a huge emitter, transport as a service is not integrated in the circular economy project, but dealt with by separate policy instruments. The INTRACE project started on the note that that the current non-integrated EU approach to transport is not effective and cannot foster the kind of paradigm shift required for decreasing transport emissions, much less respect planetary boundaries. Different ways to combat this paradigm was topic of an international conference on Sustainable and Efficient Transport Systems – The Role of Transport in the Transformation to a Circular Economy organized by the INTERTRAN research group 20-21 April 2017 at the University of Helsinki.
The project resulted in several articles and an edited volume: Ellen J. Eftestøl, Suvi Sankari and Anu Bask (eds.) Sustainable and Efficient Transport: Incentives for Promoting a Green Transport Market (Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2019).
The object of the InterTran research project was to analyse the EU policy goal of sustainable freight within the European Union from the point of view of private law and economical logistics. The project questioned the traditional private law approach, where environmental issues has been ignored as regards regulating the contract between the parties in private agreements. On the contrary, the idea of a contract has been to balance the interests of the parties. External arguments have only to a small degree been regarded valid. By proposing a regional legal instrument on intermodal transport (2005), the European Commission intended to utilize contract law as a tool to promote environmental issues. The idea was that a harmonized straight forward legal instrument on international inter- (or multi)modal transport will make the service more attractive for the users and therefore make the intermodal transport chain more competitive compared to the traditional unimodal transport. The research project examined the connection of the general discussion and the proposed provisions. A key question was whether “green” arguments are, or can be, visible in international transport law and particularly in the EU context. This was analyzed both regarding the task of the Freight Integrator as well as regarding the proposed liability regime. From a logistical perspective the main object was to evaluate whether or not the assumptions of the Commission on the need for a legal instrument was representative for the industry itself. Another key issue was whether sustainability is becoming a competitive advantage for the door-to-door or other service providers. A third key issue was the development of business models and service providers’ roles in the logistics service industry.
The project resulted in several articles, a special issue and a monograph.