There is a political will to move goods from road to sea. But how make it happen? And is shipping always more sustainable than other modes of transport? The issues will be addressed in a new pre-study that examines how the conditions for a transfer to sustainable shipping can be improved.
According to the national freight transport strategy, which the government appointed in 2018, a transfer of goods from road to rail and shipping must be promoted. But very little has happened. "There are few signs that a transfer has taken place, or that the conditions for this have improved over time," wrote Traffic Analysis, for example, in a report published in January. Something needs to be done.
"We will work with the issues from a product owner perspective", says Linda Styhre, researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute who together with colleagues from the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers will implement the project within the Swedish Transport Administration's industry program Sustainable shipping which Lighthouse runs.
"We have had a strategic collaboration called the Transport Purchasing Panel since 2010 and have previously identified the transport buyers as central to the transfer of the transport system."
Transport buyers can contribute to change by setting different requirements - on time, on logistics, on which fuels to use and other sustainability aspects.
"It's not just about getting a transfer, this should also be made to a shipping that is more sustainable than road transport. That is not always the case today. From an energy and carbon dioxide perspective, shipping is more often better per unit transported, but if you look at other emissions such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur and particles, it is not obvious. It is time for the shipping industry to understand that."
The project is therefore carried out in collaboration with the Clean Shipping Index, a certification tool, which IVL operates, which has been used to environmentally identify port and fairway charges by using vessels emissions to air and water.
"Goods owners can also use the Clean Shipping Index and, for example, demand a certain number of points on the ships in order for the shipping company to be allowed to transport their goods."
So how does the project work? Well, two companies are involved, Scania and Absolut, and the starting point is two existing transport lines that are currently operated by road. What would happen if these were given a sea route? The goal is to find solutions with lower environmental impact while costs and service requirements, such as frequency and availability, are at an acceptable level.
"In previous studies, we have seen that there is a lack of knowledge about shipping solutions among some product owners and that there is often a lack of prioritization of working with transfer from road to other modes of transport. In order to make a transfer happen, an industry collaboration is also needed. And that is what we want to achieve in the project. We want to raise the level of knowledge and get it on the priority list by providing a method for how companies can work with the issue."