Why do CO2 emissions from heavy road freight transports increase in spite of higher fuel prices?

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The paper analyses why CO2 emissions from heavy road freight transports increase in spite of higher fuel prices. Swedish time series data for the period 1990-2011 are analyzed with help of indicators. The logistic efficiency of the road transports improved especially in the 1990-ties due to the allowance of heavier trucks. Also the energy efficiency increased during that period. Since then there have been improvements but no major efficiency gains have been realized. Today potentially cost effective technologies exist to further reduce the CO2 emissions from heavy road freight transport. However, technical, institutional and financial barriers reduce the incentives for the transport firms to imply these.

Split incentives caused by contract structures or ownership patterns can impede the employment of these technologies, as the firms that invest in the technologies have little incentive to do so. If fuel savings are realized rebound effects can appear that cancel out improved energy efficiency. The internalisation of the social marginal costs can lead to modal shifts to less carbon intensive modes, but shippers minimize their total costs and take into account quality aspects when choosing transport solutions. There are obstacles for the increase of the share of non-fossil energies in form of access to raw material, infrastructure for vehicles that can use the alternative fuels etc. On the national and international road freight transport markets staff costs are often more important than taxes and fees.

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