New study proposes concrete solutions to reduce truck emissions in MontrealReport offers a progressive approach that will alleviate congestion, improve road safety and support climate goals

Nov. 23, 2021

Delivery truck downtown

MONTREAL — The Pembina Institute, Jalon and Équiterre have released a new study that proposes key solutions to help the City of Montreal reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from trucks and meet its climate objectives. With 39 per cent of its emissions coming from the transport sector, and with carbon emissions from freight transportation in Quebec increasing by 190 per cent from 1990 to 2018, the report’s findings propose concrete solutions to an increasingly urgent problem.

“The research and tools we propose are extremely practical and urgently needed, given the climate crisis we face,” says Carolyn Kim, the Pembina Institute’s Transportation Director. “During the pandemic, online purchases and doorstep deliveries spiked and don’t show any signs of slowing down. We deliberately researched and put forward solutions that are readily implementable and will bring down carbon emissions in the city significantly.”

“The transportation of goods in Montreal and Quebec is a growing source of urban congestion, road safety concerns, and carbon emissions,” says Annick Di Lalla, Urban Mobility Advisor at Jalon. “The report and its policy solutions address every single one of these issues with realistic and feasible tactics.”

Four concrete solutions

After a year-long research effort during which 35 stakeholders from the transportation industry, the public sector and environmental organizations were interviewed, a literature review was undertaken, and an advisory committee was consulted, the study narrowed down its findings to four solutions:

1. Increase the use of electric-assist cargo bikes and mini-hubs
A cargo bike allows for 15 per cent more delivery points per hour than a traditional truck. Compatible with pedestrian areas, cargo bikes can use bike paths, are easy to park, and even make deliveries in the winter. The creation of strategically located mini-hubs in the city can be used for trans-shipment, as well as transferring merchandise from a larger size truck to smaller vehicles including cargo bikes.

2. Optimize urban delivery systems and logistics
Reducing the number of partially filled delivery trucks and shifting delivery hours and routes in the city to reduce congestion during morning and evening rush hours are just a few ways to optimize operations.

3. Increase direct delivery to customers through parcel lockers
A system already in use in some Montreal suburbs, this solution reduces trips made by delivery trucks to home addresses, therefore allowing for more deliveries in one place. Using parcel lockers can also contribute to reducing the number of failed deliveries and consolidate shipments and returns in one place.

4.  Accelerate the deployment of zero-emission delivery vehicles
Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), which include using battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, reduce pollutants and are relatively quiet, allowing for deliveries in residential areas during off-peak hours without noise being a concern. This solution, however, needs to be supported by increasing the ZEV supply, more financial support for businesses, and building out the charging infrastructure in the city.

In addition to presenting solutions to reducing GHGs in the transportation sector, the report also provides policy tools to help public officials implement these solutions, notably by offering a combination of government incentives and tax breaks.

“We are suggesting a progressive approach where all levels of government take a leadership role to create a favorable environment to carry out these solutions,” explains Andréanne Brazeau, Mobility Analyst at Équiterre. “To do this, we need to offer companies tangible incentives during an initial transition period that would otherwise be too costly for many businesses.”

The City of Montreal’s climate plan, released in December 2020, aims to curb the city’s GHG emissions by 55 per cent in 2030. When signing the One Planet Charter in 2018, the city also committed to reaching net zero by 2050.


Download Reducing Truck Emissions in Montreal: Guiding principles and a policy toolbox for low-carbon urban freight in English and French


Victoria Foote (English)
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications, Pembina Institute

Anthony Côté-Leduc (English/French)
Media Relations Manager, Équiterre


Report: Delivering Last-Mile Solutions: A feasibility analysis of microhubs and cyclelogistics for urban freight delivery in the GTHA
Report: The Next Frontier for Climate Action: Decarbonizing urban freight in Canada
Report: Using Data to Reduce Urban Freight Emissions: Recommendations for data-driven climate solutions in Canada


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