Off-peak deliveries, better truck parking, data-sharing among freight forwarders, and low-emission vehicle incentives are among the solutions put forward in a recent Pembina Institute report, aimed at curbing the carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of a rapidly-growing freight industry.
Freight accounts for 10% of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions, “has been the fastest growing sub-sector of transportation since 2000, and is projected to become the largest energy-consuming segment of transportation globally by 2030,” writes Dianne Zimmerman, Pembina’s Policy Director, Transportation and Urban Solutions. “This is due to a number of factors, including growing populations and businesses, manufacturing goods from international markets, the increasing popularity of online shopping, and the expectation of receiving goods quickly.”
While “efforts to curb these emissions have not been a high priority for governments and civil society,” she adds, “there is a great opportunity to find solutions to cut freight emissions, and help Ontario achieve its emissions targets.”
Zimmerman cites a cluster of issues facing the freight industry, from highway congestion, street noise, and air pollution, to increasing travel times and kilometres travelled due to the suburban location of most warehouses. “All of these challenges leads to increasing prices for the trucking industry and us, in turn, as well as increased emissions from their operations.”
Pembina’s Greening the Goods report recommends steps to make Toronto a “freight smart city”—including a series of neighbourhood freight forums that the Institute plans to organize in the next few months.