Road transportation failing GHG emissions target

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Canada’s road transportation sector is unlikely to achieve an 80 per cent reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2050, according to a new report from The Conference Board of Canada.

The report, A Long Hard Road: Drastically Reducing GHG Emissions in Canada’s Road Transportation Sector by 2050, examines the potential reductions from a range of vehicle usage trends and technologies.

Findings show that even when accounting for reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short. At current conditions, there is a steady decline in road transportation emissions levels until 2025, but after this point, levels are projected to rise by almost 12 per cent. And in order for road emissions to reach an “80-by-50 target,” they would have to be reduced by approximately 117.5 megatonnes (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalent from 2013.

However, road transportation emissions, which accounted for about half of the increase in Canada’s emissions from 1990 to 2013, are growing with more cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks.

“The challenge is that we are not moving fast enough,” said Len Coad, research director of public policy at The Conference Board of Canada. “Relying on technological solutions alone will not be enough for Canada to meet the 80-by-50 goal. Canada needs a coordinated approach that supplements our focus on technological improvements with efforts that change the way we use transportation and that reduce demand for road transportation.”

A few report recommendations include, continued improvement in vehicle performance and efficiency, more alternative vehicle technologies, such as hybrids, plug-in electric, natural gas and biofuels, getting the public to use other modes of transport, considering lower carbon freight options such as rail and marine transport and reducing demand for transportation.


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