Will delivery vehicles, drones make our skies dirtier, our air unhealthier? Analysis offers insights

Have you noticed the upswell of delivery vehicle-traffic lately? Welcome to the club. And there is the likelihood there will be drone-based package delivery added to that mix. All of which could be a recipe for dirtier skies and unhealthier air – local or otherwise.

A Jan. 10th World Economic Forum-produced report investigates just this very thing and is further explained in “Urban Deliveries Expected to Add 11 Minutes to Daily Commute and Increase Carbon Emissions by 30% until 2030 without Effective Intervention,” the title of the World Economic Forum’s news release also released that day.

In that, the World Economic Forum is frank. “A new analysis released [Jan. 10, 2020] estimates that urban last-mile delivery emissions are on track to increase by over 30% by 2030 in the top 100 cities globally. Without intervention, these emissions could reach 25 million tons of CO2 emitted annually by 2030. Along with increased carbon emissions, traffic congestion is expected to rise by over 21%, the equivalent of adding 11 minutes to each passenger’s daily commute. New analysis released by the World Economic Forum identifies and prioritizes 24 interventions to combat these trends.

The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem analysis suggests that growing demand for e-commerce delivery will result in 36% more delivery vehicles in inner cities by 2030, leading to a rise in both emissions and traffic congestion without effective intervention.”

As specifically related to how municipalities can get the upper hand, the analysis “assesses 24 supply chain and technology interventions by developing an advanced analytics-based congestion simulation and quantitative model, resulting in concrete, quantified insights on how these interventions can help solve inner-city delivery challenges, as well as lowering CO2 emissions.” The consortium of the “World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Company and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD),” it should be noted, produced The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem report.

So what are some of those effective intervention mechanisms?

Among them, according to the World Economic Forum, are electric delivery vehicles – both battery and hydrogen powered, and deliveries made during non-business hours, at night, to be precise. Artificial intelligence even plays a role – robots, in this case, dispatched to deliver the goods, right to consumers’ front doors, that is.

“Demand and offerings of increasingly fast delivery options continue to grow at a greater pace than other delivery options,” the World Economic Forum insists. “Currently, same-day and instant delivery are the fastest-growing segments of the last-mile delivery environment, increasing at rates of 36% and 17% a year,” with the expectation that by 2030 the urban last-mile delivery demand will expand by 78%. Up nearly a third, meanwhile, will be “related emissions,” this on account of deliveries.

Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility for the World Economic Forum as cited in the news release in question cautions: “‘Rising congestion and emissions from e-commerce delivery are already putting stress on city traffic patterns and this pressure will only rise from growing demand unless effective intervention is quickly taken by both cities and companies.’”

The entire “Urban Deliveries Expected to Add 11 Minutes to Daily Commute and Increase Carbon Emissions by 30% until 2030 without Effective Intervention,” Jan. 10, 2020 news release may be accessed here.

Image above: World Economic Forum