GHG cut requires ‘total’ transport effort: Conf Board

OTTAWA — Despite impressive improvements in fuel and engine efficiency over the years, truck-generated emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are still an important area for policy attention, according to a Conference Board of Canada report.

While there have been numerous methods for reducing the environmental impact of freight transportation – alternative fuels, new engine technologies, a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade policy – discussions on implementation have been lacking, according to the report.

“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.

Blank is the Ross Distinguished Visiting Professor of Canada-U.S. Business and Economic Relations at Western Washington University, and a Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI).

The report is published by the Conference Board of Canada’s International Trade and Investment Centre. The centre is intended to help Canadian leaders better understand what global economic dynamics (such as global and regional supply chains, domestic barriers to trade, U.S. policies, or tighter border security) could mean for public policies and business strategies.

"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,” added Blank. “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 some solutions:

– Look at the freight truck transport system as a whole, rather than at individual modes. Mitigating freight transport-generated emissions involves complex networks, and changes in one point of the network will affect the rest of it.
– Pay more attention to what others, particularly in Europe, are doing, and learn from their experiences.
– Develop an institution or process that can support North American collaboration on reducing GHG emissions from trucks. Environmental problems associated with freight truck transportation must be viewed in continental terms, not as three separate national issues.

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