Transportation 2030: Green and Innovative Transportation

"Green and Innovative Transportation" is one theme under Transportation 2030, the Government of Canada's strategic plan for a safe, secure, green, innovative and integrated transportation system.

On this page

Our goal for this theme

To improve Canadians’ lives by using new technologies, and reducing the environmental impacts of transportation, including greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

What Canadians told us

In 2016, we consulted Canadians about our transportation system. Here is what they told us about environment and innovation:

  • We should design public policy tools for a longer time frame: we don't have to invest all capital for green transportation, but we should let those with capital get a return on their investment
  • Incentives and regulations can:
    • reduce carbon pollution
    • get people to use more efficient modes of transport, such as rail and marine
    • encourage the use of new technologies
  • Pollution should be reduced in all modes of transportation, using options such as alternative fuels and electric power
  • We should focus efforts on trade corridors, and shared ways of moving goods and people
  • Regulations should support innovation and economic development, while maintaining safety
    • For example, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) (also known as drones) largely benefitted from regulating flexibility to test specific technologies

Where we go from here

To meet our goals for making transportation green and innovative, we committed to:

  • Work with provinces and territories to support a low-carbon transportation system
  • Promote ways transportation can adapt to the changing climate, especially in Canada’s North, where thawing permafrost affects the efficiency, safety and maintenance of infrastructure
  • Continue to seek the right balance in regulating remotely piloted aircraft system technology, so that:
    • RPAS continue to help advance scientific research, exploration, infrastructure inspections, wildlife and land surveys, delivery to remote communities, natural resource and emergency situation management, rescue operations and videography, film and media uses.
    • RPAS regulations promote safety and foster economic growth
  • Oversee VIA Rail Corridor Fleet Renewal Program. By replacing its corridor fleet with Tier 4 compliant locomotives, VIA Rail will achieve up to 15-20% fuel efficiency improvement.
  • Support the use of connected and automated vehicles and smart infrastructure to:
    • improve road safety
    • reduce congestion
    • increase mobility
    • protect the environment
    • support economic opportunities for Canadian businesses
  • Make sure our actions support work on government priorities, such as:
    • Canada’s Phase 2 infrastructure plan
    • a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
    • a national innovation agenda

Support in Budget 2017

Budget 2017 supports this work on green and innovative transportation. Related commitments include:

  • $56.9 million to develop greenhouse gas regulations
  • $17.2 million for Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop and implement heavy-duty vehicle retrofit and off-road regulations, as well as a clean fuel standard
  • $16.4 million to assess the ability of federally owned roads, bridges, airports and ports to withstand the effects of climate change and natural disasters
  • $6.9 million to continue the Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative
  • $120 million for electric vehicle and alternative fuelling infrastructure
  • $76.7 million for connected and automated vehicle and remotely piloted aircraft system regulations, certification, standards and testing
  • $229 million in support of Clean Energy and Clean Transportation Innovation Programming

Our progress

Supporting the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

In May 2017, along with Natural Resources Canada, we released a report on climate risks and adaptation practices. This report includes the current knowledge about climate risks to our transportation sector and ways we can adapt. It is the first of its kind in Canada focused solely on the transportation sector.

Climate Risks and Adaptation Practices for the Canadian Transportation Sector 2016

We are supporting the development of other measures outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, including the:

  • federal carbon pricing benchmark
  • clean fuel standard
  • conducting research and testing on clean transportation technologies for all modes of transportation

Commitments under a Healthy Environment, a Healthy Economy: Making Clean, Affordable Transportation

Clean transportation is a key part of Canada’s plan to build a better future. This plan builds on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, and recognizes that we need to work faster on reducing emissions in the sector while supporting the many services that the transportation system provides.

The government will expand the supply of clean electricity by investing in renewable and next-generation clean energy and technology, and encourage cleaner modes of transportation, like low and zero-emission vehicles, transit and active transportation. This will make communities healthier, less congested and more vibrant.

To make sure that Canadians have cleaner, more affordable transportation options, the government will:

  • invest $287 million over 2 years to continue the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program until March 2022
  • work with partners on supply-side policy options to reduce Canada’s light-duty vehicle fleet, including regulations and investments to speed-up and expand the availability of zero-emission vehicles in Canada as demand grows
  • work with the US to increase the consumer availability of zero-emission vehicles in both countries
  • consult stakeholders on increasing the supply of, and demand for, medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles in Canada, to ensure businesses have access to the types of zero-emission vehicles that meet their needs
  • work with industry, provincial regulators, and academics to explore options which can help advance zero-emission long-haul trucking
  • work with rail, marine and aviation stakeholders to speed-up developing technology and pilot projects, and implement commercially-ready solutions. The government will also look at options to deploy low-carbon fuel equipment at marine, rail, and aviation hubs, which could include electrifying loading equipment at airports or powering boats with clean onshore electricity when they are at marine ports

Making zero emission vehicles more affordable

Budget 2019 provided $700 million for a suite of measures to encourage the use of zero-emission vehicles, including $300 million over 3 years for Transport Canada for the Incentive for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program, which was launched on May 1, 2019.

As of December 31, 2020, over 72,000 Canadians and Canadian businesses have benefitted from the incentive. The program was given another $287 million over 2 years starting in 2020-21. This funding will make sure that incentives are available for the 3-year program announced in Budget 2019.

Since 2017, the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia have co-chaired a federal, provincial, and territorial working group on zero-emission vehicles. This working group meets every 3 months to share best practices and lessons learned.

Reducing emissions from the aviation sector

Transport Canada has been the aviation sector’s work in reducing emissions for many years. Canada's Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation includes a fuel efficiency target and measures that should have a big impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time, including:

  • renewing and upgrading fleets
  • more efficient air operations
  • improving air traffic management
  • R&D into the air sector and environment
  • alternative fuels
  • regulations, and
  • coordinating with other countries

Canadian air carriers improved their fuel efficiency by 18% between 2008 and 2018.

Find updates on these targets in Transport Canada’s latest annual report

At the international level, we’ve been working with other states to develop and implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which addresses the emissions from international aviation.

Reducing emissions from the rail sector

Transport Canada continues to work with the rail industry to reduce locomotive emissions. The Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada have been working together through a series of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on improving greenhouse gas emissions and criteria air contaminant emissions intensities in the rail sector. Canadian railways have made major progress over the last 10 years in reducing the intensity of these emissions.

Collaboration with provinces and territories to reduce emissions from the on-road freight sector

Transport Canada is working with the provinces and territories on a task force that will explore options for supporting the use of fuel‐saving devices, like aerodynamic add‐ons, on heavy-duty vehicle fleets. This commitment, made under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, aims to increase the efficiency of trucks already on the road and to complement existing and planned emissions regulations for new heavy-duty vehicles, engines and trailers.

Remotely piloted aircraft systems


On January 9, 2019, we published Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations new regulations for flying remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS, also known as drones) in Canada. These rules apply to drones that weigh not more than 25 kilograms (kg), and that are operated within a drone pilot’s visual-line-of-sight.

In response to the 2019 Treasury Board Regulatory Review Initiative, Budget 2019 set aside funding for Transport Canada to speed-up the development of lower-risk beyond visual line of sight regulations.

On April 23rd, 2020, Transport Canada published a Notice of Proposed Amendment to the Canadian Aviation Regulations and consulted extensively with stakeholders.

New rules for drones in Canada

Research and development

Transport Canada continues to support Canadian research and development for drones.

Automated and connected vehicles

Cooperative truck platooning

As part of the Transportation Sector Regulatory Roadmap, Transport Canada launched a pilot project to test fuel-saving truck platooning technology, which includes trials on Canadian public highways planned for 2021-2022. Cooperative truck platooning uses connected vehicle technology to enable trucks to move in tight formations to reduce aerodynamic drag and fuel use.

Through this pilot project, Transport Canada is working with industry, academia, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to gather evidence to develop:

  • industry guidance for connected and automated vehicles pilot projects
  • best practices
  • policies, and
  • regulations

The results from this project will help us promote a modern approach for the safe and effective use of connected and automated vehicles in Canada.

Program funding for automated and connected vehicles

In September 2017, we launched the Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System  to help Canadian jurisdictions prepare for technical, regulatory and policy issues emerging as Canada introduces connected and automated vehicles. The program is providing $2.9 million in funding to support 15 connected and automated vehicle projects across Canada. It is currently closed to applications.

The program is also supporting the development of connected and automated vehicle standards to promote connected and automated vehicle interoperability across borders, and the security and privacy of connected vehicle communications.

Senate Standing Committee report

The Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications released a report in January 2018 on connected and automated vehicles. Their report recommends how to encourage the responsible development and use of this technology.

Read the Senate Standing Committee report

The Government of Canada Response to the Senate Standing Committee report was tabled on July 27, 2018.

Read the Government Response (PDF, 15.6 MB)

National framework

Transport Canada and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada created the Advisory Group on the Vehicle of the Future with members from government, industry, academia and non-government organizations. The group will examine key themes related to the use of connected and automated vehicles, like:

  • safety and security
  • innovation and competitiveness
  • digital and physical infrastructure
  • data privacy, and
  • social impacts and risks

We’re also working with provinces and territories to improve safety requirements for automated and connected vehicles. This work includes developing and putting in place guidance material to support safe testing and pilot projects, and establishing best practices and policies that encourage alignment across jurisdictions across Canada.

The Advisory Group on the Vehicle of the Future and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial initiatives will also support efforts to advance a national framework for connected and automated vehicles.

Automated and Connected Vehicles Policy Framework for Canada (PDF, 2.1 MB)

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