This document is the "descriptive report" of the scenarios for deep decarbonisation of freight transport in France by 2050. It is intended for the various actors in society who would like to discover two coherent stories of the main transformations (societal, organisational, technological and political) leading to the decarbonisation of this sector and their effects on a set of dimensions such as the number of tonnes transported, the share of rail, road vehicle traffic, final energy demand or the place of the various energy vectors.

Key Messages

In order to make the most of the innovative contribution of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways approach to achieving the complete decarbonization of freight transport in 2050, two scenarios were constructed in the framework of this study, based on contrasting economic and social macrostructure evolution rationales. Concretely, a conventional narrative involving the continuation of current, business as usual production-consumption-distribution structures is compared with a breakthrough scenario considering fundamental changes in the structure of the economy and the demand for freight transport. Particular attention has been paid to understanding the consequences of these scenarios on the organisation of the transport and logistics system as a whole, as these topics have received little attention in previous studies.

Although, in accordance with the "backcasting" approach used in this study, the two scenarios make it possible to achieve zero emissions from inland freight transport by 2050, the pillars of this decarbonisation are fundamentally different. The first scenario is essentially based on energy pillars linked to the improvement of vehicle energy consumption and the exclusive use of low-carbon energy sources, despite an increase in demand for freight transport. The second scenario, on the other hand, is based on a more balanced distribution of efforts between the different pillars of decarbonisation and also emphasises potential changes in the structure of demand for goods, whether in terms of quantities or distances travelled.

These two scenarios for total decarbonisation of land-based freight transport are also distinguished by their consequences on other sustainability criteria (accidentology, road wear, congestion, local pollution, battery and material resources, land competition, working conditions, etc.).

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