Market News

 December 02, 2009
Reducing GHG Emissions in Canada's Transportation System


Greenhouse gas emissions from Canada's industrial freight transportation sector can be cut in half through clean technology, says new report. Sector generates more than a third of Canada's greenhouse gases

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - A new report from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) says that a $1.5 billion strategic investment in clean technology would enable Canada's industrial freight transportation sector to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030.

The SD Business Case(TM) on Industrial Freight Transportation forecasts that without tackling the problem, growth in the sector will see greenhouse gas emissions increase by 40%. However, such an investment would not only wipe out that increase, but achieve a 9% reduction below current sector levels.

The SDTC report shows the potential to build on Canada's core strengths and improve Canada's competitiveness through the development, demonstration, and commercialization of new technology and solutions. It indicates that a $500 million direct investment by governments would generate an additional $1 billion in private sector investment for this growing sector that currently provides more than 440,000 Canadian jobs.

"When Canada's economy grows, the amount of freight we ship grows, and the current reality is that greenhouse gas emissions grow too. With strategic investments in clean technology and infrastructure, this doesn't have to be the case in the future", said Vicky Sharpe, President and CEO, SDTC. "If we decrease the energy consumption and emissions associated with moving freight, we can achieve environmental, economic and societal sustainability while improving productivity."The SD Business Case on Industrial Freight Transportation identifies opportunities for investment in advanced technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada's industrial transportation sector which includes: railway, marine, on-road trucking, off-road freight transportation and intermodal.

Canada's expansive geography and export-heavy market means that industrial transportation activities contribute approximately 37% to Canada's total energy-related GHG emissions. Approximately half of this energy consumption is dominated by freight transport.

"We need a collective approach to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of freight transportation", said Rick Whittaker, Vice President, Investments and Chief Technology Officer, SDTC. "An optimal solution involves technology development within each mode of transportation coupled with strategic deployments of infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions."

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The full report is available in the Knowledge Centre section of the SDTC website at www.sdtc.ca : 


The SD Business Case on Industrial Freight Transportation is the sixth in a series of reports produced by SDTC. These reports are the result of extensive consultations with industry, policy makers and academia. This input is analyzed along with market data and current reports and studies to arrive at an investment report that creates a common vision of market potential. These reports are used to guide the investment decisions of SDTC. Previous SD Business Case reports addressed the subjects of Eco-Efficiency in Commercial Buildings, Renewable Electricity, Clean Conventional Fuels, Biofuels, and Hydrogen. They are all available in the Knowledge Centre at www.sdtc.ca : .

This SD Business Case focuses on the environmental, economic and social impacts of the Canadian industrial freight transportation sector. It addresses the potential introduction of sustainable technology and infrastructure to counter the negative impacts associated with energy consumption such as greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air contaminant (CAC) emissions, as well as impacts related to soil and water quality.

The report identified common barriers or needs in each sector - non-technical and technical alike - that highlight areas in which government and industry both have roles to play.

Non-Technical Needs 

1. Financial risk is a substantial barrier to technology development and uptake in the industrial transportation sector. Fleet renewal is capital intensive and investments in Research, Development & Commercialization are marginal or low in the industrial transportation sector.

2. A long-term price signal is lacking, undermining the motivation to change. Emissions reductions are not effectively monetized and fluctuating fuel prices contribute to uncertainty and delayed action, which further compromises competitiveness in the sector when prices increase.

3. Information gathering, reporting and sharing is fragmented or non-existent. Not only does this present sector knowledge gaps, which limit informed decision-making at the company-level and efficient logistics at the shipper-level, it undermines effective government policy and strategic investment in infrastructure.

4. Regulations and standards are needed to motivate technology development and uptake where market forces fail to generate the appropriate signals. In addition, thoughtful and judicious alignment of regulations and standards can address barriers arising from regulatory discontinuities across service areas, particularly where operational efficiencies are at issue.

Technical Needs

1. Energy Supply - The development and supply of alternatives to fossil fuel based energy sources.

2. Energy Storage - Development of advanced chemistries and mechanics to enable lower cost, reliable, high performance energy storage and recovery systems.

3. Energy Conversion - Development of pre- and post-combustion emission reduction technologies, on-board systems to limit the release of vehicle waste streams, optimization of on-board auxiliary systems, advances to existing primary driver technology and the development of advanced alternative primary drive systems to decrease system inefficiencies and energy losses.

4. Vehicle Design - The introduction of advanced technologies and alternative vehicle designs aimed at increasing overall vehicle efficiency through light-weighting strategies and advanced aero- and hydro-dynamics.

5. Logistics, Communications and System Optimization - Real time communications and data acquisition technology to enable effective logistical planning and route optimization while providing operator feedback information.