Reducing emissions in Urban Freight

Reducing emissions in the transport sector can be challenging. When considering how much freight moves into a city, this is an action area where effective greenhouse gas emission reductions can be planned – but it should be implemented as a partnership. The City of Almada in Portugal formulated a sustainable urban logistics plan and established an urban consolidation center (UCC) as a logistics base to optimize urban logistics. The concept is clear: reduce the number of urban freight trips into the city-center and deliver goods efficiently.




The city of Almada, Portugal, is one of 18 municipalities within the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA). It is located on the south bank of the Tagus River and home to over 176,000 full-time residents. The municipality has committed to cutting 80% of its community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, compared to 2006 levels. This is in line with its commitment to the Paris City Hall declaration, during the mayor’s participation in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).  To realize its climate targets, Almada City Council developed a local strategy based on the city’s energy matrix and series of GHG inventories. The resulting Local Climate Change Strategy outlines a set of sectoral measures to reduce energy intensity and improve environmental performance. Almada has committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM), making its climate leadership visible at a global level.


From strategic planning to practice

Building on efforts made in the mobility sector, the city has some of the best indicators in the metropolitan area. It is tracking data such as the share of personal automobile use (almost 9% lower than average), and shares of public transport use and walking (respectively 8% and 2% higher than the average in the metropolitan area).

The first phase of strategic mobility planning started in 2001, resulting in the implementation of several initiatives, such as:

  • a tram system – currently used by 25,000 to 30,000 people every day
  • the Flexibus and the Bus Saúde (“Health Bus”) – a mobility service adapted to Almada’s growing elderly population and access to health services.


Part of the city’s success in providing an efficient multimodal transportation system is due to its outstanding history in dealing with integrated and multi-thematic policy development and use of strategic planning.

Considering the significant share of transport-related GHG emissions, as identified in the city’s regular GHG inventories, the local government has included several measures to reduce emissions in its second sustainable mobility plan called “Strategic Plan for Urban Mobility in Almada” (PUMA). It includes Almada’s first Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan (SULP) to tackle environmental impacts of urban freight in the city.

The PUMA targets five areas of intervention. Four build on the strategy planned in 2001 and an additional fifth addresses urban logistics. The efforts in the first four areas have been supported by the Local Energy Management Agency of Almada (AGENEAL). This organization assists the local government in promoting energy efficiency, utilization of local energy resources, and uptake of the best available technologies across all sectors.


Urban Logistics Plan (SULP) a key to sustainable mobility

Almada’s SULP is a key component of the PUMA framework. It aims at optimizing logistical operations of goods transportation. This includes opportunities to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions. The process of drafting the SULP enabled municipal staff to assess the state of logistics within the city, and identify potential actions to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Measures include:

  • new regulations and time windows for loading and unloading of freight,
  • improved enforcement of parking regulations and electric trolley services.
  • creation of a freight consolidation center


Urban Consolidation Center – also a platform for stakeholder engagement


The flagship initiative is the establishment of an Urban Consolidation Center (UCC). This serves as a logistics base providing an intermediate location for the temporary storage of goods. The benefit is that goods can be consolidated, reducing the number of trips into the city-center. Goods are delivered to the final destination by a dedicated fleet (“last-mile service”). So long as the UCC is located within a suitable distance for all deliveries to be completed on a single charge, this electric vehicles can be used for this. This initiative is part of a nationally co-funded program, enabling the municipality to implement a pilot UCC in an integrated approach, working closely with freight companies.

Aligned to this, Almada submitted and an application and was awarded funds to engage in the program “Decarbonization Living Labs” launched by the Portuguese Environmental Fund -a body of Portugal’s Ministry of Environment. The program aims to generate demonstrative solutions to show how to contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement goals. Co-financing the set-up of the LVpD Almada (Almada Living Lab in Portuguese), this cooperation will be used by the municipality to implement solutions that result in urban spaces that are organized, optimized, inclusive, connected, low-carbon, resilient, accessible – and that promote their use by citizens, companies and other entities.

Through the LVpD Almada, the municipality will implement and test several pilot projects including the creation of a small UCC “The Farol Center”, to be based on a zero emissions building designed in line with the principles of a circular economy. The project also aims to implement other actions such as the creation of a local currency that promotes economic activity in the laboratory and surrounding areas, as well as smart waste collection and using food waste, provision of real-time information on public transport modes, smart metering, the reduction of energy intensity in buildings and the introduction of solar pavements.

Lastly, the roll-out of the FAROL (lighthouse) Platform, a web-based system which will aggregate all the information associated with the activities of LVpD Almada. The Platform will be used as an instrument of operationalization, dissemination and monitoring of the results of the laboratory. It will be shared by all relevant stakeholders and provide information to the public.

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