Where is our delivery? The political and socio-technical roadblocks to decarbonising United Kingdom road freight

Phil Churchman, Noel Longhurst

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Road freight represents approximately 8.5% of UK carbon emissions and therefore must be abated if the UK government’s objective to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is to be achieved. While several technology options exist, it is commonly viewed as a hard-to-abate sector and progress to decarbonisation remains slow.

Whereas techno-economic aspects of the low carbon transition of road freight are well studied, socio-technical and political aspects are much less so. This is in contrast with substantial socio-technical literature focused on the transition of passenger vehicles. Symptomatic of this, there is little direct engagement in research with freight industry operators and participants. This study seeks to address these gaps by considering the views of these key actors through qualitative social science research.

Fifteen semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholders within the road freight industry. These revealed a range of themes and relevant issues which underline the complexity of this transition. Further analysis of the data revealed six overarching viewpoints that reflect the primary concerns of the expert interviewees. These viewpoints suggest that the challenges for the road freight transition are principally political and socio-technical, and opportunities are identified to further explore these through future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102330
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date28 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Road Freight
  • decarbonisation
  • qualitative
  • hydrogen
  • socio-technical
  • politics

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