Ottawa, Ontario – A new report by the Conference Board of Canada has found that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by freight transport constitute a substantial share of emissions produced in the U.S. and Canada and are likely to increase, despite improvements in fuel and engine efficiency.

The truck-generated emissions of CO2 are an important area for policy attention, according to the report, Freight Trucks and Climate Change Policy: Mitigating CO2 Emissions.

“Discussions in North America about freight truck transportation and climate change have tended to focus on particular methods: alternative fuels, new engine technologies, a carbon tax, or a cap-and-trade policy for the sector,” said Stephen Blank, author of the study. “While these discussions are important, they have not, however, focused as much attention on how to bring any of these approaches online, or on the system-wide implications in doing so. Nor has there been much discussion about building a strategy, either historically or at the present time, that would attract sufficient stakeholder and political support to get any of these measures through the policy-making process. We still do not think in terms of a North American solution.”

To address these gaps, the following steps are recommended:

– Look at the freight truck transport system as a whole, rather than at individual modes. Mitigating freight transport-generated emissions involves complex networks, and changes in one point will affect the rest. For example, producing cleaner heavy trucks might well increase the number of trucks on the highway, which would in turn require substantial new highway construction.

– Pay more attention to what others are doing, particularly in Europe, and learn from their experiences.

– Develop an institution or process that can support North American collaboration on reducing GHG emissions from trucks. Environmental problems associated with freight truck transportation must be viewed in continental terms, not as three separate national issues.

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