Failure to put a lid on “largely unchecked” greenhouse gas emissions from freight could become “a huge roadblock for Canada to meet its climate targets and live up to its Paris Agreement commitment,” the Pembina Institute concludes in a report Issued last week.
Freight movement is a “too-often overlooked source of carbon emissions” that makes up “the fastest growing segment” in a transportation sector that itself accounts for fully a quarter of the country’s total emissions, Pembina concludes.
Annual Canadian emissions for freight transport, the equivalent of about 58 megatonnes of CO2 per year, are about 60% of those for all forms of passenger transportation. But passenger emissions are projected to fall, while freight emissions are rising, driven by “increasing population and economic growth, more international manufacturing and global supply chains, the increasing presence of online shopping, and the consumer expectation to receive goods quickly.” Meanwhile, more than C$1 trillion per year of combined Canadian imports and exports “depend on the smooth and efficient movement of goods around the world.” Pembina projects that by 2030, freight will surpass passenger travel as the transportation sector’s leading climate polluter.
With that in mind, the think tank asserts, “now is the time to make real progress and policy change on freight emissions that has environmental, social, and economic wins.” The report endorses economy-wide federal policies like benchmark carbon pricing and a forthcoming Clean Fuel Standard. It also urges introduction of advanced efficiency regulations for heavy duty vehicles through to the 2027 model year, and building out commercial fuelling infrastructure “across a range of options, with biofuels and natural gas in the short term, and electric and hydrogen following closely behind.”
Last fall, Pembina issued a report identifying a wide range of other techniques that could further reduce freight emissions, including off-peak deliveries, better truck parking, and data-sharing among freight forwarders.