Incentives for Promoting a Green Transport Market
Edited by Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson, Suvi Sankari and Anu Bask
Chapter 11: Product information on freight emissions for consumers - changing the market towards sustainability
This chapter assesses the visibility of the environmental role and effect of freight transport in (global) supply chains and questions whether consumers can make sustainable choices based on information available to them. As opposed to being integrated, the European Union’s (EU’s) overall approach to transport is fragmented. The same can be said about the European Commission’s approach to ‘closing the loop’ with a circular economy as well as about carbon emissions in general. However, one key prong of the circular economy package is where all these fragmented strategies should meet: its objective of helping consumers choose sustainable products and services. To reach this goal, consumer information on the environmental impact of products sold in the EU internal market should ideally include transport-related emissions within the value chains – both global and local – in which they are made. This chapter argues that such consumer information is currently missing, and consumers cannot make an overall evaluation of the sustainability of products they purchase. The assessment starts with a practical example from the field of apparel manufacturing and retail and is followed by general reviews of the existing indirectly or directly related EU laws and how they fail to generate information-fuelled consumer behaviour resulting in market-led change. This leads to the question: What could be the role of law in incentivizing market actors (companies and consumers) to make more sustainable choices – aligned with the Commission’s goal – to rise to the challenge of planetary boundaries and circular economy, including harnessing the (global) effects of freight transport?
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