Government watchdog urges incentives for trucking technology

TORONTO — The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) recognizes efforts made by the trucking industry to reduce fuel consumption and identifies the need for the government to provide incentives to make further energy conservation investments.

The report, from the independent watchdog, outlined the Ontario government’s progress in conserving energy.

The ECO report highlights the fact that transportation accounts for the highest demand for energy in Ontario and explains how the provincial government and the trucking industry are trying to curb this growing demand through various public policy measures, most of which were spearheaded by the Ontario Trucking Association, including speed limiters, single wide tire weight allowances and aerodynamic trailer reforms.

The report discusses barriers to more widespread GHG reduction improvements in the trucking industry including lack of investment capital and provincial regulations nationwide, preventing interjurisdictional travel of more fuel efficient trucking equipment:

“Without financial incentives, fuel efficient technologies can be too costly for fleet managers… In truck transport, the regulatory inconsistency on codes and standards between jurisdictions can also act as a barrier. The varying degree of stringency can make compliance complex and adopting new technologies a risk.”

The OTA has long been a proponent of financial measures and regulatory reform as a method to improve GHG emissions from trucks and applauded the ECO report for the inclusion of these recommendations.

“Regarding the need for financial incentives, OTA continues to echo the same sentiments made by the ECO reports. Perhaps this report will convince folks in the finance departments of Ottawa and Queen’s Park that this need by our sector is both legitimate and effective,” said OTA president David Bradley.

Regarding the report’s recommendation for road pricing in Ontario, Bradley explained that this controversial method is not the most effective way to achieve desired GHG reductions.

“Trucking companies don’t need to be ‘incentivized’ to save fuel by making it more expensive,” stated Bradley. “In many cases, fuel is either a carrier’s leading cost or second leading cost behind labour. The federal government’s intent to regulate GHG emission from heavy trucks, most likely through new vehicle standards to be unveiled later this spring, will likely prove to be a far more effective regulatory reform than road pricing ever will be.

“Hopefully when the federal government implements these regulations, they will see the wisdom in the ECO’s recommendation to introduce financial incentives as well.”

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