Transport-Related Climate Impact of Online versus Traditional Shopping Practices

  • Project no. 150717
  • Duration 01/2016 - 06/2016

Technical decarbonisation of energy use in the transport sector will require several decades. Besides the ongoing transformation of the energy and transport systems new trends emerge that may have substantial repercussions on the carbon intensity of human activities. There is substantial growth in combined postal and online shopping as well as in related freight transport. Increasing numbers of heavy goods vehicles and delivery vehicles in city centres are visible signs of this growth trend. Shippers in industry and commerce can make contributions to decarbonisation while designing supply chains and logistics service providers can reduce the climate effects of their operations.

But how about consumers and their decisions? Will it be advantagous for the global climate if consumers buy goods via postal or online shopping and let logistics service providers do the delivery? Or will it be better if they go shopping in retail outlets and carry the goods bought to their homes?

Which segments of postal and online shopping can be distinguished and what determines the climate effects of related logistics operations? How are shopping trips and passenger transport affected, given that both are closely related to each other?

The result of the project is a systematic overview of the relevant factors and their interplay. It has shed some light on current trends and existing empirical evidence. Moreover it has identified what contributions the actors involved might make to decarbonising shopping trips and related logistics and how this might be promoted by regulations.