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Pastowski, Andreas
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Wuppertal Papers 79
This paper takes a look at the development of freight transport and its further perspectives in thelight of environmental sustainability. It clearly challenges the traditional view that furthergrowth in freight transport is indispensable whatever stage of economic development an indi-vidual economy has achieved. Moreover it suggests measures to be taken into consideration insectors other than the transport sector which may help to break the trend of continuing freighttransport growth. Current developments of freight transport volume and modal split are rathercounterproductive as regards curbing the unwanted environmental impacts. As growth in vol-ume is a major contributing factor for most adverse effects caused, a substantial decoupling ofeconomic growth and freight transport would be extremely helpful. While freight transportactivity is almost entirely derived demand there can be no sufficient solution for the resultingenvironmental problems within the sector itself. Therefore, it is necessary to examine potentialsfor reducing demand for freight transport in all sectors of the economy. Contrasting to thewidely held view that freight transport is in general an inevitable prerequisite of economicdevelopment, there are potentials for reducing the freight intensity of the economy which couldbe far more exploited. Such potentials are increasing the share of regional production, slowingdown the metabolism of materials in the economy, and substituting transfer of information fortransport of physical products. While each of these potentials on its own may appear to offerlimited effects, a proper combination might yield substantial results. The presented preliminaryideas suggest that the notion of everlasting freight transport growth is misleading and hint at thenecessity for further research.
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