Posted on 04/24/2012 by David Radke
A little less than a year after the U.S. introduced its new emissions standards for trucks, Canada has followed suit with its own effort to combat greenhouse gases.
On Friday, April 13, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced a set of proposed heavy vehicle emissions standards that would bring the country in line with its southern neighbor.
Trucking can make a big impactUnder the new rules, truck manufacturers will need to start meeting emissions reductions targets by model year 2014, measured as the average emissions level over their whole fleet sales. By model year 2018, regulators hope to see emissions levels drop by as much as 23 percent.
"Canada and the United States have a deeply integrated automotive industry and there are significant environmental and economic benefits to aligning our emission standards for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles," Kent said in a statement. "Today's announcement means that, by the year 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from Canada's heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by 3 million tonnes per year. This is equivalent to removing 650,000 personal vehicles from the road."
Kent explained to Reuters that roughly one-quarter of Canada's carbon emissions come from the transportation sector, making reducing the impact from trucking a major part of the environmental agenda.
Changes already underway across North America
Truckinginfo reports that manufacturers are expected to take a variety of different approaches to meeting the new emissions standards, from aerodynamic cab designs and low-rolling-resistance tires to new engine designs. Fortunately, manufacturers have already been working to meet the new Environmental Protection Agency standards in the U.S.
"The regulation is flexible in that it does not prescribe what has to be done to reach the GHG reduction targets, as was the case with the smog emissions mandate," David Bradley, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said in a statement. Though the CTA has pushed for a new labeling system to help ensure drive compliance.
Of course, regulations aren't the only way to push down greenhouse gas emissions. Bradley pointed out that carriers and drivers already have a fairly strong incentive to reduce their carbon footprint just because of the price of diesel.
"The way you reduce GHGs is through improved fuel efficiency and with diesel prices continuing to increase year by year, motor carriers are motivated to burn less fuel," Bradley said. "In fact, at no time in our industry’s history have our companies environmental goals been so aligned with society's desire to reduce GHGs."
New environmental goals
Though Canada became the only country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto protocol - the international treaty designed to limit carbon emissions - last year, the country has set its own targets. For now, the Canadian government has set its sights on 17 percent reduction below 2005 emissions levels by the end of the decade.
Reuters notes that many environmental groups insist that goal is going to be tough to meet given how Canada has been expanding its fossil fuels exploration. But Environment Canada announced earlier this month that the country actually managed to see a decline in emissions along with a rise in gross domestic product, a key economic indicator.
The U.S. saw a similar drop off, especially when the financial crisis shut down huge sections of the economy, but numbers are starting to climb again, according to the EPA. Still, the International Energy Agency notes the U.S. has also seen a dramatic one-third decline in carbon emissions per unit of GDP, so it looks like recent efforts are having a serious impact.