The State of Freight: Understanding greenhouse gas emissions from goods movement in Canada is a detailed examination of the factors driving the increase of emissions from goods movement, and the complex of federal, provincial, and municipal programs and legislation. The report makes a convincing case for the importance of this issue: Freight (defined as road, rail, ship and plane), accounted for 10.5 per cent of total emissions in Canada in 2015; freight is the fastest-growing segment of the transportation sector, and the transportation sector is the second highest source of emissions in Canada – and the largest sectoral source of emissions in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. And simply put: “Any business with a supply chain depends on freight. And nearly everything we purchase as consumers has to be transported to the purchase or delivery point.”
The report focuses most attention on the movement of goods using heavy-duty trucks, and identifies the main actors in that industry, as well as examples of international programs to improve efficiency, including the U.S., California, and the EU. Good companion reading on that issue is the April 2017 Pembina report, Improving Urban Freight Efficiency: Global best practices in reducing emissions in goods movement , which provides case studies from New York City, Toronto, Sweden, and London. A 2014 report by Pembina also focuses on Toronto: see Greening the Goods: Opportunities for low-carbon goods movement in Toronto .
The State of Freight identifies as the key opportunities to reduce emissions: carbon pricing and the forthcoming federal Clean Fuel Standard; Phase 2 heavy-duty vehicle efficiency regulations ; Continued rollout and adoption of efficiency technologies; Build-out of fuelling infrastructure – biofuels, natural gas , electric and hydrogen; and integration of goods movement into regional and municipal land use planning.
On May 26, Canada’s Minister of Transportation announced that Canada will develop a national electric vehicle strategy by 2018 in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, as promised in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change agreement. A national Advisory Group has already been established to develop options in five areas: vehicle supply, cost and benefits of ownership, infrastructure readiness, public awareness, and clean growth and clean jobs. The Advisory Group includes representatives from governments, industry, consumer and non-government organizations and academia. In November 2016, the Minister had released a vision document, Transportation 2030: A Strategic Plan for the Future of Transportation in Canada , which included all modes of transportation – air, ships, trucks and trains, as well as a section on Green and Innovative Transport . According to the government press release on May 26 , transportation accounts for about 24 percent of Canada’s emissions, mostly from cars and trucks. The Pembina Institute states that there are only 21,000 electric cars on the road in Canada in 2017.
Relevant views of the future: Expect the Unexpected , a report from Carbon Tracker Initiative in February 2017, forecasts that electric vehicles will account for over two-thirds of the road transport market worldwide by 2050. “The Transportation Revolution is Closer Than You Think” , a May 22 blog from Climate Works Foundation summarizes several recent studies. And a new report, Three Revolutions in Urban Transportation envisions three scenarios up to 2050, and states: “ The world is on the cusp of three revolutions in transportation: vehicle electrification, automation, and widespread shared mobility (sharing of vehicle trips). Separately or together, these revolutions will fundamentally change urban transportation around the world over the next three decades.” …Our central finding is that while vehicle electrification and automation may produce potentially important benefits, without a corresponding shift toward shared mobility and greater use of transit and active transport, these two revolutions could significantly increase congestion and urban sprawl, while also increasing the likelihood of missing climate change targets. In contrast, by encouraging a large increase in trip sharing, transit use, and active transport through policies that support compact, mixed use development, cities worldwide could save an estimated $5 trillion annually by 2050 while improving livability and increasing the likelihood of meeting climate change targets.” Three Revolutions was published by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways at UC Davis.
A strategy document released in December tackles the triple bottom line, with ten proposals that would create jobs – up to 40,000 per year – while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. The report is notable for two reasons: it was produced by a broad group of community, environmental and labour union groups in New York, including ALIGN, the National AFL-CIO, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the BlueGreen Alliance, and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
For each of the ten proposals, there is a detailed discussion which includes consideration of workforce issues: for example, the energy efficiency retrofit proposal includes a recommendation that, “building owners should ensure that building operators are trained in energy-efficient operations. To this end, the City Council should pass Intro 13-2014, a bill that will require large buildings in New York City to have at least one building operator who is certified in energy efficient building maintenance”.
On October 16, the Council of Canadian Academies released a report commissioned by Industry Canada, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Canadian firms. It provides an overview of how Canadian businesses have adapted to rising and increasingly volatile energy prices. “The Panel focused on Canadian sectors that are particularly exposed to energy prices and therefore potentially vulnerable to changes: the energy intensive resource-based, manufacturing, and transport sectors; the capital intensive oil and gas, mining, and electric power sectors; and the transport equipment sector”.
59% of firms surveyed have invested in equipment to manage energy costs over the past few years; only 18% of surveyed firms had access to information that allowed them to benchmark their energy efficiency against their competitors (the Forest Products industry being one example of an industry that does benchmark).
The report was prepared by a 13-member expert panel, chaired by Fred Gorbet . See Energy Prices and Business Decision-Making in Canada: Preparing for the Energy Future at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/completed/energy-prices.aspx (English), and http://sciencepourlepublic.ca/fr/assessments/completed/energy-prices.aspx (French), with an abridged English version (6 pages) at: http://www.scienceadvice.ca/uploads/eng/assessments%20and%20publications%20and%20news%20releases/energy_prices/energyprices_rif_en.pdf.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future reported to the provincial legislature on May 23, with a recommendation not to proceed with a light-rail link between Calgary and Edmonton at this time because population is not sufficient to support it. However, for future infrastructure planning, the report recommended that the government should identify a greenfield transportation/utility corridor and begin acquiring land, while at the same time developing a regulatory framework to allow the private sector to participate. See the report at http://www.assembly.ab.ca/committees/abeconomicfuture/EHS/Reports/2014/High%20Speed%20Rail%20Transit%20System%20in%20Alberta,%20Final%20Report.pdf .