Globalisation, Transport and the Environment

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12 Jan 2010
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9789264072916 (PDF) ; 9789264079199 (print)

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What impact has globalisation had on transport? And what have been the consequences for the environment? This book aims to answer these questions and more. It looks in detail at how globalisation has affected activity levels in maritime shipping, aviation, and road and rail freight, and assesses the impact that changes in activity levels have had on the environment. The book also discusses policy instruments that can be used to address negative environmental impacts, both from an economic perspective and from the point of view of international law.


Related reading

Environmental Outlook to 2030 (2008)

The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation: Policies and Options for Global Action beyond 2012 (2009)

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  • Executive Summary
    The increased flow of knowledge, resources, goods and services among nations that has occurred as a result of globalisation has led to a major increase over the years in transport activity. This has had an impact on the environment in a number of ways: through increased economic activity in general; through shifts in the location of production activities; and through developments in the volume and type of transportation required to meet demands of global trade. This report reviews the linkages between globalisation, transport and the environment, and identifies the policy challenges and potential solutions to address the environmental consequences that arise.
  • Introduction and Main Findings
    OECD and the International Transport Forum (ITF) held a Global Forum on Transport and Environment in a Globalising World, 10-12 November 2008 in Guadalajara, Mexico.* There were around 200 participants from 23 countries at the Global Forum, representing national and local governments, academia, business, environmental organisations, etc. The main purpose of the Global Forum, and of this book, was to discuss the impact globalisation has had on transport levels, the consequences for the environment and the policy instruments that can be used to limit any negative impacts for the environment. This book is based on the papers addressing globalisation issues that were prepared for that forum. The papers have been somewhat edited, in an attempt to present a continuous story, and to avoid much overlap among chapters. Some additional or updated material has also been added, but the systematic research for the various chapters was ended in the autumn of 2008.
  • Globalisation's Direct and Indirect Effects on the Environment
    This chapter explores research into the relationship between globalisation and the environment, looking at patterns and rates of growth in international trade and foreign direct investment. It provides a summary of knowledge of globalisation’s indirect effects, focusing largely on current estimates of the size of the scale, composition and technique effects of globalisation. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the various direct effects of globalisation, notably transport-related emissions and biological invasions, and attempts to put these into the broader context of overall effects. The chapter concludes that, although recent evidence concerning trade and local pollution is encouraging, the evidence concerning carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is less so. One explanation for the pessimistic assessments of trade’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions is their global nature. Not only are the costs of CO2 emissions shared with citizens abroad (who have no political voice outside their own country), but many greenhouse emissions are associated with fossil fuel use, for which few economically viable substitutes have emerged to date. The income and technique effects that are largely responsible for reductions in local air pollutants do not seem to have the same force when the pollutant in question burdens the global population.
  • International Maritime Shipping
    This chapter explores how the maritime industry has transformed its technologies, national registries and labour resources over the past decades to serve the demands of globalisation. It looks at the global economic role of shipping, describing the marine transport system as a network of specialised vessels, the ports they visit, and transport infrastructure from factories to terminals to distribution centres to markets. The chapter presents maritime transport as a necessary complement to, and occasionally a substitute for, other modes of freight transport. For many commodities and trade routes, there is no direct substitute for waterborne commerce. On other routes, such as some coastwise or shortsea shipping or within inland river systems, marine transport may provide a substitute for roads and rail, depending upon cost, time and infrastructure constraints. The chapter traces maritime transformations in response to globalisation, from the shift of human labour (oars) to wind-driven sail, and the shift from sail to combustion. Two primary motivators for energy technology innovation – greater performance at lower cost – caused this conversion. It explores current maritime shipping activity to explain why ocean-going ships now have an activity level making them consume about 2% to 3% – and perhaps even as much as 4% – of world fossil fuels. The chapter examines future developments by extrapolating historical growth trends, and looking at scenario-based estimates.
  • International Air Transport
    This chapter describes the basic features of international air transport. It opens with a historical perspective from the 1930s to modern day. The modern air transport industry is one that increasingly operates within a liberal market context. While government controls over fares, market entry and capacity continue in many smaller countries, they are gradually and almost universally being removed or relaxed. The chapter explains why the air transport industry is now large – it accounts for about 1% of the GDP of both the EU and the United States. It is an important transporter of high-value, low-bulk cargoes. International aviation moves about 40% of world trade by value, although far less in physical terms. The chapter explores the effects of globalisation on airlines, not just on the demand side – where the scale, nature and geography of demand in global markets has led to significant shifts – but also on the supply side, where government policies (e.g. regarding safety, security and the environment) require international co-ordination. It examines technological developments. Two major innovations in air transport were the introduction of jet engines, which considerably shortened travel times, and the introduction of wide-bodied aircraft, which gave airlines the opportunity to reduce the cost per seat. Both developments reduced the generalised cost of travel, so that they had a positive impact on demand. And in closing, the chapter explores changing industrial needs.
  • International Road and Rail Freight Transport
    This chapter establishes the recent trends in international trade volumes. It then aims to identify the main ways in which this trade growth has affected road and rail freight transport activity at the international level, and finally considers the likely future direction of international land-based transport movement. Road and rail are currently carrying relatively small quantities of products traded internationally compared with maritime shipping. However, likely increases in the total quantity of international trade (as a result of manufacture continuing to grow in distant locations, facilitated by more reliable, and faster transport services, supported by improvements in technology) will increase the amount of goods that need to be transported internationally. The chapter looks at recent trends in international trade activity. It discusses international trade and transport from a policy and economic perspective, before describing the importance of customs clearance and border crossings together with the increased concerns about security in international transport. The chapter provides a more detailed discussion of road and then rail within which aspects such as infrastructure issues, policy and regulation, operations and technology are reviewed. The chapter closes with a look at future perspectives. New developments to remove bottlenecks, combined with operational improvements, provide scope for considerable increases in the efficiency of international road and rail freight in many regions.
  • International Maritime Shipping
    It is estimated that 80% of the maritime traffic is in the northern hemisphere, with 32% in the Atlantic, 29% in the Pacific, 14% in the Indian and 5% in the Mediterranean Oceans. The remaining 20% of the traffic in the southern hemisphere is approximately equally distributed among the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. This chapter addresses the environmental impacts of the shipping activity. It explores the ongoing scientific debate regarding both the historic and the current fuel use in the sector, which has a direct relevance for the environmental impacts of the sector. The chapter describes modelling of air emissions from shipping and the geographically resolved emission inventory. It examines atmospheric impacts. Emission of pollutants to the air from a ship is often chemically transformed to secondary species and mixes with ambient air. The chapter explores the impact on pollution levels and climate; for example, the effect on surface ozone shows a profound seasonality at northern latitudes. In closing, it looks at future impacts. Most scenarios for the near future, the next 10-20 years, indicate that regulations and measures to abate emissions will be outweighed by an increase in traffic, resulting in a global increase in emissions.
  • International Air Transport
    This chapter reviews the literature on the environmental impacts of aviation, discusses trends in emission patterns and comments upon how the external cost of aviation is estimated in various studies. The purpose of the chapter is to assess how developments in the aviation sector in the last few decades have impacted on the environment, and what this means for transport and environmental policy. The chapter explores how hub-and-spoke networks can lead to environmental benefits because of economies-of-scale in environmental terms. Passengers are concentrated on a few routes, so that larger aircraft may be used. But transfer passengers fly longer distances, and take off and land twice, so that they have a relatively large environmental impact. The chapter explores policy instruments, such as compensation regulation. A number of factors are examined: noise (people are asked what they are willing to pay to experience less aviation noise); emissions (damage to human health, damage to buildings, reduced visibility, damage to forests, crops and fisheries); and accidents.
  • International Road and Rail Freight Transport
    This chapter assesses the environmental impacts of increased international road and rail freight transport – focussing on air emissions and noise. It gives an overview of major trends and of the main drivers behind them. In addition, this chapter briefly discusses the main technical and non-technical measures for tackling the increasing environmental impacts. The chapter explores the developments in emission factors of road and rail vehicles, particularly the standards for reducing pollutant emissions and the differences among the emissions of the various modes. In the last decades, there has been increasing evidence that emissions of greenhouse gas contributes to the effect of global warming; the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor. For the transport sector, greenhouse gas emissions are dominated by the CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. The CO2 emissions of international road freight transport are increasing all over the world, and there is not yet a sign that this trend is to be curbed soon. The chapter looks at impacts from pollutant emissions on various problems related to air quality (health, building and material damages, crops and ecosystems), and at health and nuisance impacts from noise. A mix of measures, like increased motor fuel taxes, stricter fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, promotion of alternative fuels and logistical improvements, is needed.
  • Policy Instruments to Limit Negative Environmental Impacts
    This chapter provides an overview of current responses to climate change. It looks at how CO2 emissions from transport may evolve, assuming current energy prices do not change strongly. It discusses road transport, shipping and aviation in relation to CO2 emissions. Transport activities have adverse environmental and health impacts, of which local and regional air pollution, climate change and noise impacts are the most important. This chapter is a non-comprehensive overview of existing and potential policies to deal with these negative impacts, with a focus on international transport. "International transport" is here defined as those transport activities that are mainly derived from the globalisation of economic activity, not as cross-border transport flows in a more narrow sense. Surface transport, aviation and maritime transport are discussed. The focus is on climate change, treating other adverse impacts (including aviation noise and local and regional pollution from shipping) more succinctly. Policies to reduce transport’s greenhouse gas emissions are assessed against the background of a broader discussion of how to deal with the free-rider problem. CO2 abatement in road transport is discussed in some detail, while just a few issues related to maritime transport and aviation are mentioned.
  • Policy Instruments to Limit Negative Environmental Impacts
    This chapter provides an overview of international law’s limits and opportunities in combating the adverse effects of transport on the environment. It examines these limits and opportunities in turn for international air transport, international shipping, road transport and other regimes which regulate, for instance, the transport of hazardous waste. This chapter thus examines the opportunities and limits of policy instruments in addressing negative environmental impacts arising from transport. It breaks down responses by multilateral, regional and unilateral approaches. Although international law in general does not exclude the possibility of unilateral action, it strongly encourages multilateral approaches. States have considerable freedom to regulate their own vessels and set the rules applicable in their own territory, particularly if they adopt non-discriminatory legislation. Regional initiatives offer several successful models to debate, design and adopt innovative rules which later can find their way into global regimes. Although international regimes on occasion act as constraints on governments’ abilities to regulate activity that is harmful to the environment, the international law provides many opportunities to adopt new instruments to regulate environmental impacts from increased international transport.
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