Policy Bundles for Reducing Transportation Emissions in Large Cities

Transportation - the movement of goods and people from one location to another - is responsible for about one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This policy brief draws on the experiences of 3 large cities using multiple policies in tandem to create behavioural change and reduce greenhouse gases.

Key Messages:

  • The bulk of transportation-related emissions arise from the road travel generated by individual choices about where to live, work or study and how to travel between these locations, and by the shipment of goods by road. This Policy Brief focuses on passenger emissions, the major contributor to growth in transportation GHGs.
  • Municipalities have many policy tools to manage these emissions. Fiscal measures can reinforce land use, transit investment and other mode shift strategies. For example, marketbased instruments (MBIs) make GHG-intensive transportation choices more expensive and lower the relative cost of alternative modes of transportation, while complementary services and regulations increase the availability of these alternatives and reduce urban sprawl.
  • This Policy Brief draws on the experiences of three large cities that have successfully bundled a mix of policy tools to revitalize and expand their public transit - London, New York and Paris. Each city has used regulation, services, and MBIs in different combinations to induce behavioural change and make alternative modes of transportation more accessible.
  • Canadian policy makers can learn from these international experiences. Canada is the only G8 country without a national, long term public transportation funding strategy, and this paper identifies the importance of co-ordinated multi-level government strategies to support the shift towards sustainable transportation.
  • Reducing transportation-based emissions in Canadian cities would improve urban living, and set an example for other urbanizing jurisdictions around the world. However, change of the scope and scale required will require federal and provincial governments to support city governments by providing resources and facilitating regional and national policy coordination.

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About the Project

The goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment by exploring the linkages between changes in our natural capital and our measures of productivity generally, and through the construction of an environmentally adjusted measure of productivity specifically.

While it is now commonly accepted that economic activity and the state of our environment are linked, many economic measures still fail to incorporate the environment – both the things we draw from it and the pollution we release into it. By developing and calculating measures of productivity that include natural capital, Canada may be able to better understand these linkages. This, in turn, may lead to the identification of strategies that can help Canada become more efficient and innovative in the use and protection of natural capital, and thus more productive and more prosperous.

Using the forestry sector as a case study, this project aims to construct an environmentally adjusted measure of multifactor productivity. In doing so, we aim to add another layer of understanding to the environmental and economic performance of this sector. The proposed measure will have relevance to the Canadian economy as a whole.