Urban Goods Movement and Local Climate Action Plans: Assessing Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Freight Transportation

Many cities and metropolitan areas in the US and around the world have been developing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) to target the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most of these CAPs emphasize strategies to reduce GHG emissions from energy production, as well as energy use in buildings, land use, and personal transportation. An important area that has not received as much attention is freight transport, and the growing contribution of freight to GHG emissions. This is especially problematic in urban areas, where goods movement has become more difficult due to increased urbanization, the critical role of cities in global supply chains, increased freight demand from urban businesses and residences, and changing land use that favors the development of higher-density smart-growth environments. While contributing to many sustainability goals, higher-density smart growth development has posed significant challenges for more efficient and cleaner transport of freight. Because of the confluence of these and other factors, local areas need to consider new strategies to improve goods movement efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from escalating urban freight activity.

The authors propose to identify, evaluate and recommend the best GHG emission reduction strategies for urban goods movement relevant for local CAPs. After briefly reviewing and summarizing the relevant literature on local CAPs, GHG emissions, urban goods movement, and freight transport strategies to reduce GHG emissions, we will create a database of the most advanced CAPs as identified by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)—a global network of thousands of cities committed to sustainability. ICLEI has identified 32 local CAPs that have reached the implementation stage of GHG emission reductions. We will use this group of CAPs, together with other relevant data and reports collected from these local areas, to conduct quantitative assessments and analyses of programs and policy measures that target freight transport GHG emission reductions. Specific attention will be given to the cost effectiveness of these measures. Additionally, we will identify and assess co- benefits (i.e. other environmental, economic and community benefits beyond GHG emissions reductions) as well as the implementation costs of the selected programs and measures to assess their overall desirability.

Based on the general analysis of the 32 local CAPs, the best GHG emission reduction strategies for urban goods movement relevant for local CAPs will be identified and explained. The outcome of the proposed research will be a set of preferred and desirable urban goods movement strategies with evidence of GHG emissions mitigation and desirability in terms of their cost-effectiveness and co-benefits. These strategies can then be suggested for implementation in other local CAPs. 


Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University

Principal Investigator: 

Andrew R. Goetz & Serena E. Alexander

PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University 210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor San José, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $24,711.84 

Total Project Cost: 


Agency ID or Contract Number: 



October 2017 to February 2019

Project Number: