Backcasting sustainable freight transport systems for Europe in 2050
European freight transport emissions and fuel consumption are projected to increase. This study focuses on long distance freight transport (LDFT) and explores possible sustainable futures through quantitative modeling. The evaluation was part of European foresight process between researchers, policy makers and freight companies (FREIGHTVISION). Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy demand of road, rail and inland waterways were estimated for an EU-27 in 2005. Development was extrapolated to 2050 based on technology and freight performance forecasts. Stakeholders found the forecasted GHG emissions and fossil fuel share unsustainable, so alternative futures were developed with backcasting. The developed emission model was run with random parameter combinations to screen a set of sustainable futures, with an 80% reduction of GHG emissions and fossil fuel share. Freight transport performance was not controlled in the backcasts, but several sustainable futures were found if significant changes in transport efficiency and energy mix are implemented. In spite of agreeing on the importance of reducing emissions, stakeholders had difficulties in choosing a preferred technological future. Simple models were found to be an effective tool for communicating the influence of various measures. Further research is recommended to screen preferable technological roadmaps from the broad range of available futures.
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