New study to provide roadmap for sustainable freight transportation

Montreal, 4/11/2009 – The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has embarked on a new study to evaluate opportunities for making freight transportation more sustainable in North America.

The transportation sector contributes about 26 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in North America. At least a quarter of that share is related to transporting freight.

Billions of tons of goods are moved every year in complex industrial and commercial supply chains that span the continent. Two-thirds of these goods are moved by truck and most of the rest by rail, giving the freight sector a significant environmental footprint.

“Although freight transportation doesn’t receive as much attention as cars and public transportation, it represents, along with building-related energy improvements, one of North America’s biggest opportunities for environmental progress,” according to Evan Lloyd, CEC’s Acting Executive Director. “While people often associate NAFTA freight with border issues, this study will take a more systemic perspective, identifying broader regional action to support sustainable freight transportation throughout the region.”

To assist the Secretariat in producing the Sustainable Freight Transportation in North America report, an advisory group of representatives from transportation industries, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies will evaluate scenarios for improving the environmental performance of freight transportation by 2030 and recommend policy pathways to achieve those goals. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice Chancellor at the University of Winnipeg and a former Canadian Minister of Transportation will chair the advisory group.

“Freight transportation is inextricably linked with trade in North America,” said Axworthy. “Making our modes of transportation and the infrastructure that support them cleaner and more efficient would have a dramatic impact on North America’s competitiveness internationally while helping meet environmental commitments.”

The Home Depot, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Pollution Probe, the American Trucking Association, the Railway Association of Canada and the Mexican Institute of Transport will be among the companies and organizations represented on the advisory group.

To develop the scenarios and recommendations to the national governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States, the study will profile the current status of freight transportation in North America and look at opportunities for improving its environmental sustainability, including appropriate infrastructure development along trade corridors.

As with other reports initiated by the CEC Secretariat under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation’s Article 13, the freight transportation study will consider input from interested members of the public, as well as from the three NAFTA governments. The final report is expected by mid-2010.