When it comes to meeting emissions targets, transportation is one of the areas that will need to undergo a transformation. The transportation industry, contributes 24.3% of Canada’s total emissions, making it one of the largest carbon emitting industries in Canada (1). Within the transport sector, the largest greenhouse gas sources are freight trucks, light trucks, and commuter cars (2). There are several ways to go about mitigating the emissions associated with this sector. They include:
1. Investing in large scale transport.
Systems such as the GO transit system in Ontario can help to reduce the number of passenger cars and light trucks that are on the road by offering a more convenient way to travel (3). This could have huge benefits to the climate and to our way of travelling by lowering traffic congestion, increasing the efficiency of vehicles on the road, and reducing overall GHG emissions (4). For rural areas without similar public transport systems, a report commissioned by Transport Canada in 2009 suggested designing cyclist-friendly roads, and creating car-sharing incentives as methods to reduce automotive emissions in those communities (5).
2. Switching over to electric vehicles.
Advancing technology has allowed electric vehicles to become viable options for replacing GHG emitting, fossil-fuel powered vehicles (6). Currently, many Canadians find that zero- and low-emission vehicles are still too expensive to make this a realistic option, as of now (6).
3. Federal and Provincial government adding and enforcing emissions standards.
Programs such as the ‘Drive Clean’ program, which require vehicles to pass an emissions test in order to be considered safe to drive, can help to lower and limit the number of inefficient vehicles on the road, reducing GHG emissions (6,10, 8). It can also motivate car manufacturers to offer more efficient vehicles to buyers (8). Studies have shown that these programs are effective in high-polluting nations such as China (9). These studies have shown that while the amount of vehicles on the road is still increasing, emission control programs have caused a decline in GHG emissions since 2013 (9). In Canada, both Ontario and British Columbia have removed these programs to focus on regulating heavy-duty diesel vehicles, citing significant improvements within the industry standards, leading to reduced emissions from passenger vehicles (10). However, vehicle emissions are still controlled by the Environmental Protection Act, which penalizes vehicles that produce excess emissions or have removed emission-controlling equipment (11).