Transportation: nearly one-quarter of Canada's GHG emissions The transportation sector is second only to the oil and gas sector in terms of emissions generated....

Transportation: nearly one-quarter of Canada’s GHG emissions

The transportation sector is second only to the oil and gas sector in terms of emissions generated. Freight sources make up almost half of the transportation-related output of GHGs. This isn’t just a highway problem. In major cities across Canada, transportation contributes a significant share of carbon emissions. While transportation emissions come from the movement of both passengers and goods (freight), historically most of the focus has been on mitigating emissions from passenger vehicles.


Rapid growth of emissions

With rising e-commerce activity, a trend seen even before the pandemic-associated spike in 2020 and 2021, emissions from freight transport in Canada have also grown — by 154% since 1990. Freight is now the second-highest emitting industrial sub-sector, following oilsands mining. Yet, while national freight emissions are being measured, the picture of freight activities in cities — where the movement of goods impacts people most — is unclear.


Seeking solutions through data

Although the negative effects of the increase in urban freight are experienced most profoundly at the city level, in the air we breathe and congestion we endure, the issue is national in scope. But the current ad hoc, city-by-city approach to solving the urban-freight emissions means that municipal bureaucrats and politicians are missing important opportunities to share knowledge and learnings on decarbonizing one of the highest emitting sources of GHGs.

It is time for cities to act. With access to up-to-date information, they can move forward faster on solving this growing problem in concert with businesses and other levels of government, while saving much sought-after municipal resources.

The Urban Freight Data Hub paints a picture of freight activity in cities — and the ways policy can move the needle for change, including how we can:

Avoid unnecessary freight trips

Shift to less emitting modes of transportation

Improve the management of urban freight


Transportation emissions as share of total GHG emissions in selected cities

GHG emissions in select cities

The Urban Freight Data Hub is funded by the RBC Foundation.


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