August 7-14, 2006

Trucking sector action plan would reduce GHG emissions by over 10M tonnes, says CTA

A action plan proposed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and smog emissions from the trucking sector would reduce GHG emissions by 10.6 million tonnes, particulate matter (PM) emissions by 3.3 million kilograms (kg) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions by 142 million kg. In its paper, "Trucking & a Made in Canada 'Clean Air Act,'" the industry group says its proposed measures would have the equivalent impact in terms of air quality of removing more than 200,000 heavy trucks from Canadian roads.

Trucks are the primary mode of freight distribution in Canada, notes the Alliance. The sector has only a few large companies, its profile predominantly made up of small-to-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and independent owner-operators. Large trucks, i.e. tractor-trailers or those weighing more than 15,000 kg, make up some 277,000 of the total 600,000 vehicles in operation, which together consume about 8.8 billion litres of diesel fuel per year, says the CTA paper.

The proposed measures address six specific areas, with the environmental benefits and challenges to implementation discussed for each. These include: accelerating the penetration of smog-free trucks; encouraging the use of anti-idling devices; reducing and/or controlling truck speeds; encouraging the use of wide-base tires; aerodynamic improvements; and expanding the extra-length, double-trailer (ELDT) network.

The 2007 model year truck engines, which will be on the market this fall, will usher in the era of the smog-free truck by virtually eliminating PM and NOX emissions. This is the culmination of decades of regulatory action by Canadian and U.S. agencies to limit truck engine emissions. A 90% reduction in PM is mandated for the 2007 models, with a 95% reduction in NOX to be in place for the 2010 model year.

The technology to achieve these reductions, however, will add $7,500 to $12,000 (Cdn) to the price of a 2007 truck and even more to that of a 2010 model, notes the CTA. Accordingly, it calls for an accelerated capital cost allowance rate for 2007-10 trucks, to recognize their environmental benefits. Other financial incentives could include a one-time rebate program on the purchase of these model year vehicles, investment tax credits, etc.

To encourage the use of auxiliary heating/cooling systems to eliminate truck idling, the CTA recommends the reinstatement of NRCan's rebate program for truck idling reduction technology. Moreover, says the paper, the amount of the rebate should be increased from 19% to 50%. These auxiliary power units (APUs) are highly effective, able to reduce idling by as much as 90%, but they are also expensive (up to $12,000 each) and heavy, weighing around 400 pounds (181 kg).

NRCan's rebate program, suspended this past March, encouraged the purchase of over 13,000 APUs which in turn contributed to reductions of about 186,000 tonnes of GHG emissions, more than 47 million grams of PM and over 4.5 billion grams of NOX, says the paper. To offset the weight of the APU (which means less payload for the individual truck), the CTA proposes a 400-pound-per-vehicle weight exemption for trucks equipped with APUs.

Reducing speed has been conclusively shown to improve fuel efficiency, and the CTA recommends that the federal government endorse the activation of speed limiters on trucks; these devices would prevent trucks from operating at more than 105 kmh. The Alliance estimates that a typical tractor-trailer unit operating at this maximum speed could save as much as 10,500 litres of diesel fuel per year. Reducing a truck's top highway speed from 112 to 105 kmh, it adds, would eliminate nearly ten tonnes of GHG emissions, four kg of PM per truck and 195 kg of NOX.

Fuel efficiency would also be enhanced, and emissions reduced, throught the use of new-generation wide-base single tires in place of the conventional dual tires. These, says the CTA, should be allowed at the same permitted weights as dual tires, with all provinces granting the same weight allowances for single-based tires and duals.

The trucking industry favours the use of alternative, cleaner fuels, provided certain operating prerequisites can be met, says the CTA. In order to develop viable alternative fuels for commercial trucks, it calls for a precise definition of biodiesel by Environment Canada, including specification of the blend amount required to meet this definition. The paper recommends that pilot programs be carried out to ensure that operational concerns are addressed (especially relating to 2007-10 truck engines) before any national biodiesel blend is considered. And, it add,s the government should introduce and enforce strict standards for biodiesel quality, manufacturing and testing; these should apply to all blends and biodiesel sources.

The main recommendation for eliminating barriers to fuel-efficient vehicle designs calls for completion of the extra-length double-trailer (ELDT) study. This study examined the environmental benefits of expanding an ELDT network. Doing so, says the paper, would cost less than $10,000 and would reduce GHG the paper, would cost less than $10,000 and would reduce GHG emissions by 255 kilotonnes, PM by 37 million grams and NOX by 1.8 billion grams in Ontario alone.

A final recommendation by the CTA addresses reducing emissions from all modes of freight transportation. They should all be required to meet regulated emissions reductions of the same order of magnitude as trucking, with a single federal government department assigned regulatory authority over the fuel and engine emissions from all modes. The paper points out that trucking is currently the only mode of freight transportation in Canada whose engine emissions are regulated. Locomotive emissions are monitored, but under a voluntary agreement between the industry and Transport Canada, and regulatory oversight is a disjointed effort involving Transport Canada, Environment Canada and NRCan, adds the Alliance.

The CTA is a federation of provincial and regional trucking associations across Canada who collectively represent more than 4,500 motor carriers. Its commitment to reducing smog and GHG emissions associated with the trucking industry is illustrated in part by its partnership in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to collaborate in exploring ways to reduce trucking emissions, its membership on the Office of Energy Efficiency board of directors and its promotion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Smartway program, an initiative that encourages shippers and manufacturers to engage the services of environmentally responsible trucking firms.

The paper may be viewed on the CTA Web site, www.cantruck.com.

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