Purpose of the Report
The report will be developed as an outcome of a study conducted by the CEC Secretariat under Article 13 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The purpose of the initiative is to examine the environmental implications of freight transportation in North America and how regional action and cooperation on related policies, regulations, incentives and other measures can contribute to increase the efficiency, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability of the freight transportation system in North America.
- Modal: The report will concentrate on rail and truck freight transportation as well as on their connecting ports.
- Environmental: Greenhouse gases (GHGs) and energy consumption will be a key focus of the study, although other environmental aspects will be considered to the extent to which they benefit GHG reduction or result in potential trade-offs.
- Geographical: North America-wide analysis - Canada, Mexico and the United States, informed by specific case studies to illustrate key issues.
- The reduction of trade barriers in North America has resulted in increased trade among the three countries. Globalization has also resulted in increased trade flows outside the region, particularly from Asia. This has increased pressure on the environment and on the capacity of the existing transportation infrastructure, raising concerns about the sustainability and competitiveness of North American freight transportation.
- In particular, climate change concerns, notably the GHG footprint associated with transportation in general and freight transportation in particular are likely to become an increasingly important driver for change in transportation infrastructure and operations. A transition to a low-carbon economy is beginning, and will increasingly affect transportation technologies and fuels in North America and elsewhere.
- The interconnectivity and co-dependency of transportation systems between private and public entities raise significant challenges but also opportunities for deeper integration and collaboration in North America.
- As Canada, Mexico and the United States advance strategies to stimulate their economies, including massive investments in transportation infrastructure, there is a need to ensure that environmental sustainability is a key consideration. Despite the recent reduction in trade flows resulting from economic recession, trade volumes are likely to increase considerably in the long term.
- There is an immediate need for a long-term vision supported by policies, regulations, incentives and other measures to ensure that North American freight transportation systems are recapitalized and developed in an efficient, competitive and environmentally sustainable manner.
- Key policy drivers for environmentally sustainable transportation include:
- An expected significant increase in investments in transportation infrastructure throughout the continent
- Improved coordination throughout the North American freight transportation system
- GHG emissions and mitigation initiatives (i.e., pricing CO2 and emissions trading)
- Low-carbon fuel standards (based on life-cycle analysis)
- Emissions regulations and standards
These drivers and considerations are components of a robust discussion of sustainable transportation in an integrated and harmonized transportation system for North America.