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Report presents strategy to an increased modal shift from road to sea to sustainable maritime transport can increase

01 September 2023

"Question", "Encourage" and "Invite". According to a new report from Lighthouse and the Swedish Transport Administration these are the three main points that summarizes the strategy that will get the country's transport buyers to increase the share of sustainable sea transport.

There is a political will in Sweden to move goods from road to shipping and rail. Despite this desire and attempts with various initiatives there has hardly been any modal shift. A key actor that has a major influence on the choice of transport mode is of course the person who buys freight transport. The purpose of the project ”Hållbara transportinköp för ökad sjöfart” (Sustainable transport purchases for increased shipping) has therefore been, among other things, to develop a methodology that can help transport buyers set relevant sustainability-related requirements that increase the possibility of finding shipping solutions with a good environmental profile.

“There is a lot that happens on the go when you´re transports. You do what you have always done and then, for example, old requirements easily remain without you reflecting on it. You may have time requirements that do not allow sea transport”, says Linda Styhre researcher at the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute and one of the authors behind the report.

It is easy to add requirements, more difficult to remove, says Jonas Flodén, researcher at the University of Gothenburg who also co-authored the report.

“Therefore, it is important that transport buyers focus in their requirements on what they want to achieve and not on the method and technology. So question and make the right demands.”
He continues:

“And ask for a shipping solution. Transport sellers like to focus only on offering the simplest solution and the lowest possible price. They may have sustainable shipping solutions, but won't present them unless you specifically ask for them. So feel free to encourage and ask them to come up with their own creative suggestions.”

Question and encourage – there we have two of the main points in the strategy that the report presents to increase the share of sustainable maritime transport. The third and last point is also about breaking patterns.

“Invite other transport operators. If the request is only sent to the actors you always use, the risk is that you will always get the same answer. It's good to spread out.

The results in the report are based on studies of two transport procurements, one with Scania and one with Absolut, where shipping and direct transport by truck are compared in the areas of environment, logistics and economy.”

“There is an environmental commitment and a desire to do things differently at both companies. Their processes are elaborate and they are good at their transport and environmental work, says Linda Styhre.

Scania and Absolut are not alone in their commitment.

“The latest survey from the Transport Purchasing Panel showed that the number of companies that pay more for one or some of their transport solutions to have less environmental impact has increased among goods owners from 19 to 37 percent between 2020 and 2022

But a sustainable shipping solution does not have to be more expensive.

“One of our conclusions is that it is not obvious that it will be more expensive or cheaper. And as far as the emission calculations are concerned, shipping usually emits more local air pollution such as nitrogen oxides, particles and sulfur than road transport does, but often less greenhouse gases because it is generally more energy efficient”, says Linda Styhre.

The report Sustainable transport purchases for increased shipping has been written by Linda Styhre, IVL Swedish Environmental Institute and Jonas Flodén and Elisabeth Karlsson, University of Gothenburg

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