Last-mile freight delivery has a high potential to incorporate electric or non-motorized transport to reduce impacts in the final leg of freight pathways.  Technological solutions can be combined with freight demand management, which can encompass strategies such as staggering deliveries across time of day, mandating off-hour deliveries, and consolidating deliveries.  Successful last-mile freight demonstration projects could be scaled up further, and could be implemented even more quickly with private sector support.


  • Action is focused on freight transport, though success in this area requires careful operational and planning coordination with a range of passenger modes.
  • An innovative zero-emission urban freight plan will require use of both motorized (electric) and non-motorized modes, including two-, three-, and four-wheelers as context-appropriate.
  • Urban freight contributes to 40-50% of total CO2 emissions in China; thus, a move to zero-emission last-mile freight solutions can have a substantial impact. Latest estimates from the International Transport Forum (ITF) suggest that in OECD countries, freight transport is expected to grow between 50% and 130% between 2010 and 2050; in non-OECD countries, freight activity is expected to grow 250% to 550% in the same time span.
  • It is estimated that if all pre-Euro and Euro 1 freight vehicles were replaced with Euro 4 model compliant vehicles, significant improvements in roadside air quality would be realized, with vehicle emissions of RSP and NOx reduced by 74% and 38% respectively.  A good example for scrapping old trucks is the one time incentive measure adopted by Hong Kong in 2007.


  • National or regional green freight programs are being established around the world with most modeled after the US SmartWay program.  China is the first Asian country where a national program is being established; in addition, a growing number of green freight initiatives are being implemented in Japan, Australia, France, and the United Kingdom.


  • Freight travels through multiple jurisdictions, generating a disproportionate share of traffic related externalities such as congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gases, and traffic fatalities. Urban freight comprises one of the most cost-sensitive and emission intensive segments of the supply chain. Urban freight constitutes only fraction of total vehicle ownership (less than 10% in many developing cities), however, it constitutes a significant share of urban transport externalities (i.e. about 15-25 % share of urban vehicle kilometers, 20-40 % of motorized road-space occupation, 20-40 % of urban transport CO2 emissions and about 30-50% of urban transport air pollutants in cities of developed economies and sometimes higher than 50% for cities in developing countries). The expected growth in road freight movement has direct consequences for congestion, air pollution, and GHG emissions. Estimates reveal that every year €100 billion, or 1% of the EU’s GDP, is lost to the European economy as a result of delays and pollution related to urban traffic.
  • Since urban freight emits about 6% of all transport GHG emissions, a proportionate savings of 6% from the transport sector is possible by 2030. For example, in the European Union, on average half of all motorized trips in cities that involve transport of goods could be shifted to (cargo) bikes, which could result in significant environmental and climate benefits. In Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, implementation of bike cargo has resulted in an annual savings of 300 tons of CO2, 5 tons of CO, 630 kilograms of hydrocarbons (HC), and 360 kilograms of NOx. Furthermore, non-motorized delivery vehicles in Copacabana save 9,600 m2 of parking space.
  • The introduction of a zero emission electric vessel in Utrecht, the Netherlands, gave immediate emission reductions of 38 tons of CO2, 31 kilograms of NOx and 6 kilograms of PM10. For total estimated city center emissions, this means decreasing CO2 emissions by 13%, NOx emissions by 6% and PM10 emissions by 10% over the project lifespan.  The 2011 Transport Sector White Paper set an ambitious target of achieving essentially CO2 free city logistics in major urban centers by 2030 based on detailed investigations.  Thus, by promoting zero-emissions urban freight delivery, emissions could be significantly reduced.