OTTAWA, Ont. — Despite ongoing improvements in fuel and engine efficiency, truck-generated emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to increase, making the issue an important area for policy attention, according to a report issued by the Conference Board of Canada.
“Discussions in North America about freight truck transportation and climate change have tended to focus on particular methods – alternative fuels, new engine technologies, a carbon tax, or a cap-and-trade policy for the sector. While these discussions are important, they have not, however, focused as much attention on how to bring any of these approaches online, or on the system-wide implications in doing so,” said Stephen Blank, author of Freight Trucks and Climate Change Policy: Mitigating CO2 Emissions, for The Conference Board of Canada’s International Trade and Investment Centre.
“Nor has there been much discussion about building a strategy, either historically or at the present time, that would attract sufficient stakeholder and political support to get any of these measures through the policy-making process. We still do not think in terms of a ‘North American solution.'”
To address these gaps in a North America-wide strategy, the report recommends a number of steps to follow.
For one, the report suggests looking at the freight truck transport system as a whole, rather than at individual modes. Officials point to the interconnectedness of the transportation network, noting that producing cleaner heavy trucks might well increase the number of trucks on the highways – which would, in turn, require substantial new highway construction.
The report also suggests paying attention to what other countries – particularly those in Europe – are doing to deal with transportation emissions and learn from their experiences. In addition, the report suggests the three North American nations should view environmental problems associated with freight truck transportation in continental terms – not as three separate national issues – and work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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