Road freight transport decoupling: A comparative analysis between the United Kingdom and Spain

Economic growth has traditionally been linked to road freight transport demand, leading to a steady rise in social and environmental impacts. Concern about this problem has caused the EU to promote a decoupling strategy aimed at boosting sustainable development in European countries by improving the efficiency of transport systems without curbing economic growth. Over the last few years empirical evidence in some countries such as the United Kingdom has shown an increase in GDP while the volume of road freight traffic has remained stable or even decreased. This paper compares recent decoupling trends by analyzing the evolution of road tonne-kms/GDP relationship in the United Kingdom and Spain from 1999 to 2007. This comparison seeks to identify the main differences and key drivers of decoupling in both countries. The authors first provide an overview of the divergences between both economic structures and levels of road transport intensity. Then they conduct a decomposition analysis in order to identify the variables that explain the evolution of truck traffic per unit of GDP in each country. The results show that the increasing share of services in GDP has substantially contributed to decreasing road transport demand in both cases. Changes in road transport intensity due to improvements in logistic and supply chain management have been more successful in the UK than in Spain.


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  • Accession Number: 01521935
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 2 2014 1:53PM