Fungerar godstransportmarknaden effektivt?: ekonomisk analys av energieffektivisering av godstransporter

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Svante Mandell

A large share of Sweden’s aggregate use of energy is used in the transport sector, a third of which is used for freight transport purposes. Excluding the recent downturn in the business cycle, traffic and therefore also the use of energy, increases year by year. Against this background the present report provides a qualitative discussion of three aspects of the market for freight transport which may indicate that this development is not compatible with an efficient use of resources. A first possible reason for the increase in traffic, and thereby the increasing use of energy and other resources, can be related to the external effects of heavy traffic. It is well known that heavy vehicles wear the roads down, that they generate accident risks noise and congestion and also that the use of fossil fuel results in emissions. There are no guarantees that the transport industry automatically takes these effects into account in their decision making. The use of economic instruments is one possibility for internalising these effects. The review however demonstrates that current charges on users of railway infrastructure as well as taxes on fuel are insufficient for representing these costs. Even with conservative assumption the fuel tax should be doubled while track user charges on freight should increase with even more. The report also comprises a discussion about whether other (potential) market failures may affect the growth of transport volumes. To the extent that a (transport) corporation is able to control the price on some part of the market, there may be reason to break up this (local) monopoly. But even if a monopoly would not be eliminated, there are few indications that a welfare enhancing policy – should it be implemented – would not reduce the use of energy. The risk is rather that an unrestricted monopoly would lead to too small transport volumes. The industry is characterised by specific contracts between buyers and sellers of transport services.

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