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Decomposing road freight energy use in the United Kingdom


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  • Sorrell, Steve
  • Lehtonen, Markku
  • Stapleton, Lee
  • Pujol, Javier
  • Champion, Toby


Applying the techniques of decomposition analysis we estimate the relative contribution of ten variables (termed 'key ratios') plus GDP to the change in UK road freight energy use over the period 1989-2004 inclusive. The results are best interpreted as an estimate of the percentage growth in energy consumption that would have resulted from the change in the relevant factor (e.g. length of haul) had the other factors remained unchanged. The results demonstrate that the main factor contributing to the decoupling of UK road freight energy consumption from GDP was the decline in the value of domestically manufactured goods relative to GDP. Over the period 1989-2004 this largely offset the effect of increases in GDP on road freight energy consumption. While the decline in domestic manufacturing was to some extent displaced by increases in imports, the net effect of these supply factors, together with shifts in the commodity mix, has been to reduce UK road freight energy consumption by 30.1%. The net effect on global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is likely to be somewhat less beneficial, since many freight movements associated with the manufacture of imported goods have simply been displaced to other countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
Pages: 3115-3129

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:8:p:3115-3129

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Keywords: Decoupling Log-mean Divisia index;


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  1. Schipper, Lee & Figueroa, Maria Josefina & Price, Lynn & Espey, Molly, 1993. "Mind the gap The vicious circle of measuring automobile fuel use," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(12), pages 1173-1190, December.
  2. Greening, Lorna A. & Ting, Mike & Davis, William B., 1999. "Decomposition of aggregate carbon intensity for freight: trends from 10 OECD countries for the period 1971-1993," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 331-361, August.
  3. Kveiborg, Ole & Fosgerau, Mogens, 2007. "Decomposing the decoupling of Danish road freight traffic growth and economic growth," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 39-48, January.
  4. Ma, Chunbo & Stern, David I., 2008. "China's changing energy intensity trend: A decomposition analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1037-1053, May.
  5. Vanek, F. M. & Campbell, J. B., 1999. "UK road freight energy use by product: trends and analysis from 1985 to 1995," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 237-246, October.
  6. Ang, B.W. & Zhang, F.Q., 2000. "A survey of index decomposition analysis in energy and environmental studies," Energy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 1149-1176.
  7. Hulten, Charles R, 1973. "Divisia Index Numbers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 41(6), pages 1017-25, November.
  8. Ang, B. W., 2004. "Decomposition analysis for policymaking in energy:: which is the preferred method?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1131-1139, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Ma, Chunbo, 2014. "A multi-fuel, multi-sector and multi-region approach to index decomposition: An application to China's energy consumption 1995–2010," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 9-16.
  2. Liimatainen, Heikki & Pöllänen, Markus, 2013. "The impact of sectoral economic development on the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of road freight transport," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 150-157.
  3. Su, Bin & Ang, B.W., 2012. "Structural decomposition analysis applied to energy and emissions: Some methodological developments," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 177-188.
  4. Wang, Hongsheng & Wang, Yunxia & Wang, Haikun & Liu, Miaomiao & Zhang, Yanxia & Zhang, Rongrong & Yang, Jie & Bi, Jun, 2014. "Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from China's cities: Case study of Suzhou," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 482-489.
  5. Ang, B.W. & Huang, H.C. & Mu, A.R., 2009. "Properties and linkages of some index decomposition analysis methods," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4624-4632, November.
  6. Tian, Yihui & Zhu, Qinghua & Geng, Yong, 2013. "An analysis of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the Chinese iron and steel industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 352-361.
  7. Cahill, Caiman J. & Ó Gallachóir, Brian P., 2010. "Monitoring energy efficiency trends in European industry: Which top-down method should be used?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6910-6918, November.
  8. O' Mahony, Tadhg & Zhou, P. & Sweeney, John, 2013. "Integrated scenarios of energy-related CO2 emissions in Ireland: A multi-sectoral analysis to 2020," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 385-397.
  9. Jennings, Mark & Ó Gallachóir, Brian P. & Schipper, Lee, 2013. "Irish passenger transport: Data refinements, international comparisons, and decomposition analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 151-164.
  10. Chung, William & Kam, M.S. & Ip, C.Y., 2011. "A study of residential energy use in Hong Kong by decomposition analysis, 1990–2007," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 5180-5187.


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