OTTAWA, Ont. – A new report by the Conference Board of Canada is recommending several changes to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from trucks – including an actual cut in truck travel.
The recommendations come at a time when freight transport makes up 10.5% of Canada’s total emissions, and trucks accounting for 83% of that.
“No single technology, regulation, or program will be the ‘magic bullet’ to lower emissions from the transportation of goods. Instead, it will require commitment and coordination across all levels of government in all jurisdictions, as well as changes to consumer behavior,” said Glen Hodgson, senior fellow at the Conference Board of Canada.
A related release also promotes rail as a more environmentally and cost-effective way to move freight, noting that a truck produces three times as many greenhouse gas emissions as shipping the same goods by rail – but also recognizes a big limitation to iron highways. “Despite rail being more environmentally friendly and cost-effective than trucking, road freight continues to be a crucial and growing part of the transportation system as it does not require additional methods of delivery to get the goods or commodities to their final destination,” it says.
Recommendations include promoting and implementing systems where road, rail, and marine work together to reduce the emissions.
The report also encourages adopting established fuel-saving technologies, but recognizes uncertainties about the return on investment, performance, and capital costs, all of which have limited widespread adoption. Not only that, but it calls for more “disruptive and emerging technologies” like zero-emission and driverless trucks.
“Previous Conference Board research estimates that electric trucks could reduce emissions from freight transportation by up to 17% from 2020 to 2050, and by close to 6% from driverless trucks. However, there remains considerable uncertainty around the timeline for getting these vehicles on the road and ongoing labor concerns,” the board says.
Revenue from carbon taxes could help support investments, it adds, but cites research suggesting that more than $2 trillion would be needed to cut the emissions sharply.
Looking to provinces, the board calls for harmonized regulations around fuel standards, vehicle dimensions, and weights to better promote fuel-saving technologies.
The report comes as the Conference Board of Canada prepares to host its Reshaping Energy conference in Ottawa, scheduled for May 28-29.