The UK’s transport infrastructure needs to brace itself for an environmental and logistical perfect storm, warned economist Walter Boettcher.
In his report ‘Clicks & Consequences – accommodating the rise of e-commerce,” Dr Boettcher, Colliers’ UK head of research and economics argued that the rise of e-commerce is exposing the fragility of the supply chain system, inhibiting attempts to reach net zero.
“The distribution model in place for the growing volume of e-commerce is not without its problems,” he said. “One being that it has a substantial environmental footprint that may equal, if not exceed, that of traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing.
“Furthermore, the anticipated large-scale repurposing of ‘bricks and mortar’ retail assets into other uses could unwittingly exacerbate the problem and act to undermine the path to net zero.”
Consumerism, explained Boettcher, could lead to the UK’s road network grinding to a halt by the end of the decade, as 38,000 additional HGV will need to enter service to satisfy the ongoing demand.
“This predicted increase in HGV movements runs the risk of counteracting any decarbonisation of transport seen in the shift towards electric vehicles and highlights the challenge of balancing economic growth, our changing way of life post-Covid and the increasingly pressing needs to counteract the climate emergency,” said Colliers’ head of client sustainability James Pay.
“We must get better at communicating the impact people’s consumer choices have on our carbon footprint so that we can all make more informed decisions that go beyond the most convenient or cost effective.”