Commentary

July 2016

Peter Boag 
President & CEO, Canadian Fuels Association
 

VANCOUVER DECLARATION

We're All in This Together


In March, provincial and territorial leaders, and our Prime Minister, agreed to work together to develop a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.  Thoughtful leadership in achieving carbon emission reductions requires a solid plan that maintains a sound economy and delivers lower carbon outcomes.  Adopting an appropriate transition timeframe for this challenging journey is essential.  A successful energy transformation plan must also acknowledge the continuing importance of petroleum-based fuels as critical enablers of the transition.  We can’t arrive at an economically sustainable lower-carbon destination if we disrupt key economic enablers like our ability to move people and goods effectively, efficiently and affordably.  

Leadership is not the sole domain of politicians. Industry has a leadership role as do all Canadians.  As the people who produce and distribute nearly all the fuels that power transportation today, our members are thinking a lot about sensible pathways to a lower carbon transportation future.  

Carbon pricing is a key tool.  A well designed, uniform and predictable carbon pricing mechanism is the most effective and efficient GHG reduction option for all sectors, including transportation; it allows fuels and technology options to compete on a level-playing field to drive the lowest cost mitigation solutions, a view shared by Canada’s Eco-Fiscal Commission.  We welcome the federal government’s commitment to a pan-Canadian approach to carbon pricing.  

Beyond carbon pricing, several pathways offer promise for road transportation emission reductions.  

Focus on fuel efficiency and conventional vehicles – improved fuel efficiency of conventional vehicle technologies is the most cost-effective way to reduce transportation GHGs.  Researchers in the United States report that by using existing advanced technologies, it should be possible to achieve fuel efficiency of under 3.5 litres per 100 kilometres by 2050.  Drivers too can play a role, that’s why we are sponsoring the Smart Drive Challenge, an innovative consumer outreach program to empower drivers to reduce their fuel consumption.  

Consider carefully the role of alternative vehicles and fuels – alternate fuel vehicles have strengths and weaknesses.  Consumer acceptance, fleet turnover rates and refuelling infrastructure needs all require more examination and understanding to better assess benefits and costs, and transition timelines.

Focus on freight transportation – freight is the fastest growing component of road transport emissions.  New vehicle technologies, modal shifts, and improved operational practices are effective ways to reduce freight movement emissions.  

Reduce demand for transportation – it’s not something that will happen overnight, but rethinking where we live and work, how we design our communities and how we get around, and making smart investments in efficient, high density transportation infrastructure can drive longer-term GHG reductions.

Find the right balance – for Canada to meet its emission reduction goals, all of these options need to be considered in a comprehensive manner, and in the context of realistically achievable timelines.  A transportation system that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and socially feasible is a destination requiring patience and perseverance.   It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re all in this together.