Transportation sector offers opportunities for Canada to decarbonize

News Release

Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Transportation sector offers opportunities for Canada to decarbonize

June 22, 2017

Ottawa – Canada’s transportation sector offers some  great opportunities to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as it strives to live up to its commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources said in a report released today.

Greenhouse gases that are emitted during transportation — when people drive or when goods are moved — account for almost one quarter of Canada’s total GHG emissions. By embracing electric vehicles, switching to public transit, carpooling or minimizing commuting, individual Canadians can contribute directly to the reduction of this country’s emissions. Collectively, their actions will help Canada take meaningful action toward meeting its target of reducing emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Decarbonizing Transportation in Canada is the committee’s second interim report in its ongoing study on Canada’s transition to a lower-carbon economy.

The report highlights opportunities to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, some of which would likely involve massive public and private funding investments, through new technologies, regulatory measures, international standards, alternative fuels, targeted climate policies, and investment into intermodal transportation corridors and public transit systems.  While a number of policy considerations must be balanced, low-carbon transportation solutions will help drive the transition to a lower-carbon economy.

The committee is examining the five sectors of the Canadian economy that are responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions. Those sectors are: electricity, transportation, the oil and gas industry, buildings and heavy-emitting industries that compete internationally, such as steel and cement manufacturing.

The committee’s final report, slated for release later this year, will include recommendations to the government on how Canada can achieve its Paris Agreement commitments in a manner that is sustainable, affordable, efficient, equitable and achievable.

Quick Facts

  • Canada is one of 195 countries that agreed to reduce its GHG emissions under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (often referred to as the Paris Agreement).
  • Canada is on track to emit 742 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year by 2030. Its Paris Agreement target is 523 megatonnes. Canada must remove 219 megatonnes of GHGs from its annual emissions total.
  • Canada’s transportation sector accounts for 171 megatonnes of GHGs a year.


“Canadians are literally in the driver’s seat when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases. They are the people behind the wheel. The choices they make can generate significant contributions toward meeting our greenhouse gas reduction goals.  Greening Canada’s transportation sector will hit Fred and Martha in their pocketbook – whether by purchasing a lower-emitting vehicle or paying a carbon tax at the fuel pump, so policymakers must be mindful of passing down these costs to consumers and making it unaffordable.”

- Senator Richard Neufeld, Chair of the committee

“With Canadians working hard to live up to their commitments under the Paris climate change agreement, there’s optimism that we can make gains in the transportation sector by altering our behaviors slightly. Some minor changes to how we travel and how we ship goods could have a significant impact on our greenhouse gas emissions.”

- Senator Paul J. Massicotte, Deputy Chair of the committee

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For more information, please contact:

Sonia Noreau
Communications Directorate
Senate of Canada
613-614-1180 |