Decoupling of road freight energy use from economic growth in the United Kingdom

Sorrell, Steven, Lehtonen, Markku, Stapleton, Lee, Pujol, Javier and Champion, Toby (2012) Decoupling of road freight energy use from economic growth in the United Kingdom. Energy Policy, 41. pp. 84-97. ISSN 0301-4215

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Between 1989 and 2004, energy consumption for road freight in the UK is estimated to have increased by only 6.3%. Over the same period, UK GDP increased by 43.3%, implying that the aggregate energy intensity of UK road freight fell by 25.8%. During this period, therefore, the UK achieved relative but not absolute decoupling of road freight energy consumption from GDP. Other measures of road freight activity, such as tonnes lifted, tonnes moved, loaded distance travelled and total distance travelled also increased much slower than GDP. The main factor contributing to the observed decoupling was the declining value of manufactured goods relative to GDP. Reductions in the average payload weight, the amount of empty running and the fuel use per vehicle kilometre also appear to have made a contribution, while other factors have acted to increase aggregate energy intensity. The results demonstrate that the UK has been more successful than most EU countries in decoupling the environmental impacts of road freight transport from GDP. However, this is largely the unintended outcome of various economic trends rather than the deliberate result of policy.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Freight transport; Energy intensity; Decoupling
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and communications > HE0199 Freight (General)
Depositing User: Steven Sorrell
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2012 12:29
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2013 16:44
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