Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 953–965 | Cite as

Climate change and economic consequences for inland waterway transport in Europe

  • Olaf Jonkeren
  • Piet Rietveld
  • Jos van Ommeren
  • Aline te Linde
Original Article


Future climate conditions are likely to affect inland waterway transport in Europe. According to some climate scenarios, in summer, in the river Rhine, periods with low water levels are likely to occur more often and become more serious. Then inland waterway transport carriers will experience more severe restrictions on the load factor of their inland ships, which implies a stronger reduction in transport capacity in the market. Transport prices will rise under such conditions. Some studies reviewed in this paper find that at extremely low water levels, the price per tonne for inland waterway transport in the river Rhine area will almost double. These increased transport prices result in welfare losses. For the dry summer in 2003, the losses for North West Europe are estimated to sum up to around €480 million. Increased transport prices trigger adaptation. Inland waterway carriers may use smaller vessels, and shippers have the opportunity to shift from inland waterway transport to alternative transport modes in periods with low water levels. This effect is probably rather modest, however, with a modal shift to road and rail smaller than 10 %. Also, changes in transport costs may lead to relocation of certain economic activities in the long run.


Climate change Inland waterway transport Transport costs 



This paper is written within the context of the Dutch national research programs Climate changes Spatial Planning and Knowledge for Climate. These climate research programs were initiated by the Dutch government to support research regarding adaptation and land use-related mitigation strategies to climate change in the Netherlands.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Jonkeren
    • 1
  • Piet Rietveld
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jos van Ommeren
    • 2
    • 3
  • Aline te Linde
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.European Commission, Joint Research CentreInstitute for the Protection and Security of the CitizenIspraItaly
  2. 2.Department of Spatial EconomicsVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Tinbergen InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Twynstra Gudde Adviseurs en ManagersAmersfoortThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Institute for Environmental StudiesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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