Role of the Freight Sector in Future Climate Change Mitigation Scenarios

Matteo Muratori, Steven Smith, Page Kyle, Robert Link, Bryan Mignone, Haroon Kheshgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus Citations


The freight sector's role is examined using the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) for a range of climate change mitigation scenarios and future freight demand assumptions. Energy usage and CO2 emissions from freight have historically grown with a correlation to GDP, and there is limited evidence of near-term global decoupling of freight demand from GDP. Over the 21st century, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from freight are projected to grow faster than passenger transportation or other major end-use sectors, with the magnitude of growth dependent on the assumed extent of long-term decoupling. In climate change mitigation scenarios that apply a price to GHG emissions, mitigation of freight emissions (including the effects of demand elasticity, mode and technology shifting, and fuel substitution) is more limited than for other demand sectors. In such scenarios, shifting to less-emitting transportation modes and technologies is projected to play a relatively small role in reducing freight emissions in GCAM. By contrast, changes in the supply chain of liquid fuels that reduce the fuel carbon intensity, especially deriving from large-scale use of biofuels coupled to carbon capture and storage technologies, are responsible for the majority of freight emissions mitigation, followed by price-induced reduction in freight demand services. (Graph Presented).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3526-3533
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 21 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-67619


  • GCAM
  • systems analysis and integration
  • transportation
  • vehicle analysis
  • vehicle emissions
  • vehicle modeling


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