Remarks from Steve McCauley, A/CEO to the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources: Study on the effects of transitioning to a new low carbon economy
Pollution Probe is pleased to be appearing today and I sincerely wish to thank the Committee for its invitation for us to appear and to make our submission. Our organization, a national not for profit environmental non-governmental organization, is very active in the area of transportation and efforts to decarbonize the sector and reduce its impacts on human health and the environment. Earlier this year, Pollution Probe launched the Pathways Initiative, a response to the significant GHG reduction emissions challenge faced by Canada’s transportation sector today. Transportation, as I am sure you know, is a leading source of GHG emissions in Canada. The sector accounts for 23 per cent of national GHG emissions, and is second only to oil and gas production (26 per cent). In many provinces across Canada, transportation is the number one emitter by a significant margin over other sectors. Within the transportation sector, light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) account for roughly 50% of emissions, while the on-road heavy-duty freight sector accounts for 30% and is the fastest growing source of transportation-related emissions in the country. Lower-carbon mobility options are becoming increasingly viable in Canada and the rest of the world. As many of these options are just beginning to mature, Pollution Probe feels that in order to achieve significant GHG reductions in the long term, policies and actions must be introduced in the near term to lay the groundwork for future successes. Pollution Probe’s Pathways Initiative is a response to these opportunities for action that has focused on charting pathways to the decarbonization of Canada’s transportation sector.
This initiative was launched with an international experts workshop earlier this year which included representatives from leading transportation companies and governments including the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The initiative reflects a partnership which includes a number of private and public sector organizations including Imperial, the Canadian Gas Association, Toyota, Ontario Trucking Association, the Railway Association of Canada, and Governments of Ontario and Canada.
The Pathways Workshop Report is included here for Members’ consideration. In summary, technology pathways that were found to have substantial potential to reduce GHG emissions from transportation and which are highlighted in the report include:
- Aggressive efficiency enhancements in conventional light- and heavy-duty vehicles which could include improved powertrain efficiency, hybridization, vehicle lightweighting and enhanced aerodynamics
- The deployment of electric vehicles and the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
- The use of autonomous vehicles for both human and freight movement as well as in resource sectors
- The development and use of low-carbon first generation and advanced biofuels
- Opportunities for the use of renewable natural gas in the heavy duty vehicle sector
- Emissions reduction opportunities in the rail sector including improvements to operational efficiencies.
Within these low-carbon pathways, there are a number of options which offer great potential for reducing the environmental impacts of Canada’s transportation system. I would like to provide a brief overview of those options and then brief you in detail on two areas which have very substantial opportunities for GHG reductions: electric vehicles and renewable natural gas.