After decades of relative neglect, the movement of freight is now attracting much more attention from researchers. Recognition that freight transport is an integral part of logistics systems brought a new managerial perspective and focused attention on the inter-relationship between transport and business processes. Its profile in government circles has also risen, creating new demands for policy-relevant research on a range of topics. This chapter reviews some of these topics under three broad headings. The first relates to the growth of freight traffic at national and global levels and a series of disruptive forces that are proving difficult to incorporate into existing forecasting models. The second concerns the environmental and social sustainability of freight transport operations, while the third focuses on so-called last-mile deliveries that could potentially be transformed by a series of technological and business innovations. Across these three subject areas, numerous research questions require urgent answers.
Michele Acciaro and Alan McKinnon
International shipping is one of the main enablers of globalisation, and has contributed to a constant increase in living conditions around the world through trade facilitation and economic development. Notwithstanding the comparatively low greenhouse gas emission per unit of a tonne of seaborne freight, international shipping is responsible for a significant share of global emissions. The forecast increase in shipping-related emissions has resulted in the landmark commitment taken in April 2018 by the International Maritime Organization to limit the contribution of international shipping to global warming in the future. This will require further policy action and is likely to produce changes in the way the sector operates and vessels are powered. This chapter provides a review of the main issues associated with decarbonising the shipping sector. It highlights the complexity of devising effective climate change policies for this sector, and emphasises the need for a holistic approach to maritime decarbonisation.