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Developing a Rail Decarbonization Roadmap for Canada

OTTAWA – December 16, 2022  – Canada’s railways are setting proactive and ambitious plans to further improve fuel efficiency and decarbonize their operations. The path forward is outlined in a new report published today by the Railway Association of Canada, the Delphi Group and Pollution Probe. 

Rail Pathways Initiative –Developing a Rail Decarbonization Roadmap for Canada’ lays out how Canada’s railways can test emerging low-carbon technologies and transition to those that hold the most promise for the future. 

Canada’s freight railways have reduced emissions intensity by 25.1% since 2005. While rail is already the most fuel-efficient way of transporting goods over land, Canada’s railways are ready to go even further. 

The report includes a framework for assessing reduction opportunities in Canada’s rail sector and a standard for informing future investment decisions. 

This project was a joint effort by which the RAC and its members worked with Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the Delphi Group, and Pollution Probe. 

Canada’s railways are a backbone of Canada’s economy and are constantly innovating so they can keep Canada moving forward. Our railways are world-leaders when it comes to safety and sustainability, and this is yet more proof of their commitment to doing more on decarbonization and fuel-efficiency.” – Marc Brazeau, President and CEO, Railway Association of Canada  

“Our Government is committed to achieving its ambitious climate targets. In order to do so, it is crucial to reduce pollution across all modes of transportation. The Rail Pathways Initiative showcases the importance of strong partnerships as the Government and the rail industry collaborate and align efforts. This is key to Canada’s goals of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.” – The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport 

“The Rail Decarbonization Roadmap lays out a pragmatic approach to getting the sector to net zero by 2050, in alignment with the Government of Canada’s decarbonization target. The assessment framework that was created as the foundation for this project is designed to be used frequently in the years ahead to determine the leading options for rail decarbonization as technologies and practices evolve and are demonstrated in real-world settings. It will be as useful in 2032 and 2042 as it was in 2022.” – Cara LaRochelle, Director of Sustainable Mobility, The Delphi Group 

“The Rail Pathways Initiative represents a first-of-its-kind effort globally. This collaborative industry-government initiative has created a national roadmap and framework for assessing the decarbonization potential of leading options for rail. It can serve as a template for other jurisdictions and transportation sectors that are pursuing aggressive decarbonization to address the global climate emergency.” – Steve McCauley, Senior Director, Pollution Probe 

Quick fact

Roughly one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the transportation sector. Rail accounts for less than 4% of transportation-related GHG emissions. 

Associated links 

Memorandum of Understanding between Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada for Reducing Locomotive Emissions (2018-2022)

About the Railway Association of Canada 

The RAC represents close to 60 freight and passenger railway companies that transport tens of millions of passengers and approximately $320 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at www.railcan.ca. 

About the Delphi Group 

Proudly Canadian with global impact, Delphi is a boutique consulting firm specializing in climate change, sustainability, and ESG. As a registered BCorp with 30+ years of experience, we don’t just know our stuff…we live it. Our clients are private and public sector organizations from all sectors and regions in North America, including many of Canada’s top 100 companies. Delphi is part of a collective that includes GLOBE Series, CBSR and Leading Change Canada. Together, we are focused on achieving our vision: to achieve a more sustainable, prosperous, and socially just future in a generation. www.delphi.ca 

About the Pollution Probe 

Pollution Probe is a national, not-for-profit organization that has worked for more than 50 years to improve the health and well-being of Canadians. We pursue environmental gains by working productively with governments, industry, and the public, with a steadfast commitment to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthy Planet. Our niche in the environmental movement lies in our systems approach, which embraces three principal drivers for progress: technology and innovation, rulemaking, and behavioural change. Learn more at www.pollutionprobe.org 

Data Contact:
Ben Chursinoff

Media Contact: 
Chris Day