Canada’s emission goals take center stage

John G Smith

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Canada’s is embracing an “ambitious” climate change objective that by 2030 would eliminate more Greenhouse Gases than come from every vehicle on the road today, according to Jody Proctor, Transport Canada’s director – clean air policy analysis.

Almost ¼ of the nation’s Greenhouse Gas emissions come from transportation, and 80% of that comes from on-road vehicles, she said during a panel discussion at the annual Green Truck Summit. Trucks account for about 30% of that.

“Transportation clearly needs to be part of our climate change solution,” she told the crowd, stressing that climate change will cost Canadians $21-43 billion per year by 2050.

To meet the goals, Proctor described carbon pricing as an “effective, transparent and efficient policy approach”. Referenced options included British Columbia’s carbon tax, the Alberta carbon levy, and cap-and-trade models introduced in Ontario and Quebec. Every Canadian jurisdiction must have a carbon pricing model by 2018, set at $10 per tonne in 2018 and rising to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Last month, the federal government also introduced a discussion paper around pending clean fuel standards to reduce the emissions related to fuel, she added. Related strategies included renewable fuel mandates, their specific Greenhouse Gas performance standards, and limits on the overall carbon intensity of fuels. Since 2008, for example, British Columbia has required diesel to have 4% renewable fuel. Last year, Ontario began requiring 4% of diesel to include bio-based diesel.

But when it comes to alternative fuels like natural gas and hydrogen, there is a need for refueling infrastructure, she said, citing several provincial programs that are looking to make a difference. British Columbia’s natural gas refueling program includes a 20% incentive for those willing to build a station in a specific transportation corridor open for third parties. Ontario is investing $20 million into charging infrastructure and offering a $1,000 incentive for charging stations. Quebec, meanwhile, is running a pilot project to introduce multi-use stations, and GazMetro has announced plans to build its first Compressed Natural Gas station for public use.

The fuel, however, is just part of the equation. While emissions standards are tougher than ever, the median age for a heavy truck in Canada is close to 16 years, Proctor said. Programs like SmartWay have been introduced to encourage fleets to adopt low-emissions equipment. The eco-Technology for Vehicles program is assessing options such as 6×2 axles, platooning, and the availability and option of Low Rolling Resistance tires.

Canada also presents some unique challenges when it comes to Low Emissions Vehicles, however. Electric vehicles in Canada can face ranges that are a mere 70% of those seen in the U.S. because of harsher climates on this side of the border, she observed.

But Proctor points to several gains realized in alternative fuels, by fleets including FortisBC, UPS, FedEx, and many public utilities. Quebec-based-EBI is transforming residential waste into fuel, and Ballard Power continues to advance fuel cells, she says. Even Canada Post is testing alternative fuel options.

“We won’t necessarily get where we need to be overnight,” she says, referring to alternative fuels and Zero Emission Vehicles. “We are really laying the groundwork to get to our 2030 target, and in fact reduce emissions over the longer term.”

John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

Have your say

We won't publish or share your data