There is a great deal of focus on trucking’s emissions because its importance in the overall scheme of freight transportation has grown substantially. From 1990 to 2003, the amount of freight carried by the for-hire trucking industry grew nearly three times faster (75%) than all other modes combined. What’s more, these figures don’t take into account goods shipped by private trucking. A direct result of this tremendous growth in the use of trucking services is a sizeable increase in fuel consumption by road transport from 1990 to 2004. It’s also important to note, however, that although fuel consumption by the transportation industry continues to rise, its fuel efficiency is showing marked improvement.
Improvements to take pride in
Transportation activities are responsible for nearly three-quarters of carbon monoxide emissions; more than one-half of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than one quarter of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. However, adoption of new technologies has drastically reduced transportation’s output of these and other air contaminants. For example, NOx emissions from transportation were 19% lower in 2004 than in 1990 and VOC emissions have dropped by 37%. It would take 60 trucks operating on the new clean diesel engines to produce the same amount of soot as one truck sold in 1988.
GHG: Our Achilles heel
Transportation’s Achilles heel is its greenhouse gas emissions. In 2004, the transportation sector accounted for 26% of total GHG emissions in Canada and 28% of emissions growth since 1990. Eighty-six per cent of the increase in transportation’s emissions came from road vehicles, in particular light trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. It should also be noted that the number of tractor-trailers registered in 2005 was 32% larger than in 2000 and the number of straight trucks was up 12%.
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