Minister-led Roundtable: Green Transportation - Table Setter


June 21, 2016, 3:00PM to 5:00PM | Montreal, QC

Table Setter

Discussion Purpose

To hear perspectives on the longer-term agenda for transportation in Canada that supports the Government’s objectives for economic growth, a cleaner economy, and a country that remains well-positioned to compete globally.

Roundtable Objective

Seek stakeholder perspectives pertaining to the environment, climate change mitigation, and adaptation to a changing climate.

Identify systemic barriers to the pursuit of environmental objectives and clean growth.

Identify areas of opportunity for environmental improvements, particularly for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


  • The transportation sector is critical to the Canadian economy but also has significant environmental impacts:
    • Transportation accounts for 23% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 59% and 55% of Canada’s emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, respectively. The largest and growing source of emissions comes from on-road vehicles. The majority of emissions from transportation are in urban areas where more than 80% of Canadians reside.
    • Transportation poses several water-specific risks stemming from discharges (e.g. waste, chemical/toxic, ballast water), aquatic invasive species, and abandoned and derelict vessels.
  • Changing climate and increased frequency of extreme weather also underline the fact that the environment has a significant impact on transportation:
    • Impacts associated with the changing climate and extreme weather events are already affecting transportation systems, services and operations across all modes in all regions of Canada and impacts to one area or mode can have ripple effects across the entire transportation system;
    • This is a particular concern in the North where climate change-related challenges (e.g., thawing permafrost, changing sea ice patterns, sea level rise, increased storm surges) threaten transportation infrastructure and operations, and consequently, the standard of living in northern communities and Canada’s ability to react to incidents in Northern regions.
  • To date, some progress has been made to address transportation’s environmental impacts. For example, with the exception of the on-road freight sector, all transportation modes have seen reduced GHG emissions intensities since 2005 as a result of fleet changes and operational efficiencies. Going forward, driven largely by reductions from GHG regulations for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, total transportation emissions are projected to decline below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Building on progress to accelerate the transition towards a greener, lower-carbon, and more resilient future will require addressing systemic barriers, such as:
    • High upfront costs to adopt new technologies;
    • Perceived risks associated with uncertainty of new approaches; and,
    • Inadequate information on opportunities to improve environmental performance.

Defining Objectives for the Future

In leading the way towards a low-carbon and resilient transportation sector that takes advantage of emerging innovations and technologies, the following considerations are key for long-term transformative actions to take place:

  • A renewed emphasis on partnerships/collaboration;
  • A firm focus on “polluter pays”, including market-based measures;
  • The mainstream use of low-carbon alternative fuels and clean transportation innovations; and
  • A detailed understanding of risks arising from the inevitable changes in the climate and extreme weather, and solutions that could be employed to mitigate them.

Key Index Question

How can we minimize the impact of transportation on our natural environment and ensure its resiliency?

Roundtable Discussion Questions

  1. What intermodal and mode-specific strategies and investments are needed to ensure that the Canadian transportation sector accelerates greenhouse gas emission reductions and minimizes other environmental impacts?
  2. How can governments best accelerate the transition to a transportation system that is low carbon, non-polluting, and supports biodiversity (e.g. performance-based regulations, market-based measures, programs)?
  3. Where are the opportunities for greater collaboration between governments, communities (including indigenous), businesses, academia, and non-governmental organizations to enhance the environmental performance and resiliency of Canada’s transportation system?