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E-commerce delivery emissions on track to increase 30% in cities by 2030

A report by the World Economic Forum also finds that traffic congestion is expected to add the equivalent of 11 minutes to each passenger’s daily commute in the top 100 cities.

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Interventions are needed to tackle the effects of e-commerce delivery
Interventions are needed to tackle the effects of e-commerce delivery

Urban last-mile delivery emissions are on track to increase by more than 30 per cent by 2030 in the top 100 cities globally (by population), new research finds.

 

Without intervention, these cities’ emissions could reach 25 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030, the World Economic Forum (WEF) warns.

 

Inner cities

 

Demand for urban last-mile delivery is expected to grow by four-fifths (78 per cent) by 2030, leading to 36 per cent more delivery vehicles in inner cities.

 

In turn, traffic congestion is forecast to rise by over 21 per cent, the equivalent of adding 11 minutes to each passenger’s daily commute, according to The Future of the Last-mile Ecosystem analysis.

 

However, effective interventions do exist, and WEF identifies and prioritises 24 of them to combat these trends. For example, options that have the greatest impact on reducing CO2 emissions include greener vehicle use choices, such as switching to battery-electric or – in the long term – hydrogen-electric vehicles.

 

“Rising congestion and emissions from e-commerce delivery are already putting stress on city traffic patterns and this pressure will only rise from growing demand.”

 

Another intervention, “dynamic rerouting”, finds the best way to get from point to point through constant updates that reduce mileage and the time drivers need to deliver goods. Other solutions include pavement delivery by automated robots and parcel lockers.

 

“Consumer demand for the convenience of online shopping and fast delivery is rising rapidly and companies are struggling to meet this demand with sustainable delivery options,” said Christoph Wolff, head of mobility, WEF.

 

“Rising congestion and emissions from e-commerce delivery are already putting stress on city traffic patterns and this pressure will only rise from growing demand unless effective intervention is quickly taken by both cities and companies.”

 

Growth of fast delivery options

 

Demand and offerings of increasingly fast delivery options continue to grow at a greater pace than other segments.

 

Currently, same-day and instant delivery are the fastest-growing segments of the last-mile delivery environment, increasing at rates of 36 per cent and 17 per cent a year, the report notes.

 

For example, Walmart just made its same-day delivery option available for three-quarters of the population of the US, and Amazon already delivers to nearly three-quarters of customers within 24 hours.

 

In China, same-day and instant delivery make up more than 10 per cent of the overall parcel deliveries, more than double the rate in Europe. These faster delivery options put a particularly heavy pressure on already strained city traffic.

 

“We need to act at systems level to find the technology, policy and business-related interventions which will make a healthy and attractive urban environment possible.”

 

The Future of the Last Mile Ecosystem report, carried out by the World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Company and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), assesses 24 supply chain and technology interventions by developing an analytics-based congestion simulation and quantitative model.

 

The best results from the model involve companies, regulators, drivers and citizens contributing to the ecosystem and changing behaviour.

 

"Sustainable urban freight is the economic lifeline of cities of tomorrow where access and emissions are regulated,” added Thomas Deloison, director of mobility, WBCSD.

 

“We need to act at systems level to find the technology, policy and business-related interventions which will make a healthy and attractive urban environment possible. We hope to inform insightful discussions for private and public players through the simulation findings in our report.”

 

In the next phase of e-commerce delivery work, the WEF will apply the impact analysis of this report in upcoming projects with the cities of Amsterdam and Singapore.

 

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