U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra will team “to fight climate change and limit the environmental impacts” from the countries’ transportation networks, USDOT and Transport Canada announced on Feb. 25.
“We will work together to accelerate policy actions that help our transport sectors grapple effectively with the climate challenge,” Buttigieg and Alghabra said in a statement. “A healthy environment and economy support the goals of both countries to ‘build back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, and leverage actions at the state, provincial, territorial and local levels.”
The move is said to “reinvigorate” and support the bilateral Memorandum of Cooperation on “Transport Matters of Mutual Interest,” signed in 2016. And it follows President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Feb. 23 announcement of their “Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership,” which they explained “establishes a blueprint for an ambitious and whole-of-government effort against the COVID-19 pandemic and in support of our mutual prosperity. It creates a partnership on climate change, advances global health security, bolsters cooperation on defense and security, and it reaffirms a shared commitment to diversity, equity, and justice.”
Among Buttigieg and Alghabra’s land transportation goals:
• Work on “new innovative solutions to decrease emissions and to advance the use of cleaner fuels in rail transportation.” (See Railway Age’s “The ‘H’ Factor” and “Hydrogen Strategy for Canada’s Railways.”)
• On roads, together with other federal departments and agencies, aim “toward a zero-emission vehicle future through ambitious vehicle standards to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases from light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.”
• Explore “best practices on how to help incentivize the installation of electric charging stations, and refueling stations for clean fuels, including through the ongoing coordination of electric and alternative fuel corridors and the alignment of technical codes, standards and regulations, to enable the seamless transportation of people and goods.”
Buttigieg and Alghabra will also work with the aviation and maritime industries. For aviation, they look toward “reducing the sector’s emissions in a manner consistent with the goal of net zero emissions for our economies by 2050, and on robust standards that integrate climate protection and safety,” among other initiatives. On the maritime side, Buttigieg and Alghabra’s plans include teaming with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). They said they will work toward halving emissions from ships by 2050 compared to 2008 levels, an “ambition reflected in the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions.”
“This new focus on climate will reinforce our already vast cooperation portfolio across all modes of transportation to ensure safe, secure, and efficient transportation networks of today, while preparing for the innovations of tomorrow, and recovering our economies in a way that promotes employment, sustainability and equity,” Buttigieg and Alghabra said.
In a Tweet about the Buttigieg and Alghabra announcement, CN noted:
“CN is committed to playing a key role in the transition to a lower carbon economy. Consuming ~15% less locomotive fuel per GTM [Gross Ton Mile] than industry average, CN continues doing its part to reduce the footprint of the safe, reliable movement of the products that move our economy forward.”
Railway Supply Institute Vice President of Government & Public Affairs Nicole Brewin released this statement:
“Increased investment in our rail and public transportation systems will vastly improve the safety, efficiency and productivity of moving goods and people across the United States. Investments that encourage greater use of rail in moving both people and goods will help to reduce harmful emissions and growing congestion on our nation’s roadways. Implementing green measures like the Freight Railcar Act—which would provide tax credits to incentivize production of more efficient and environmentally friendly railcars—will also directly support and sustain the more than 125,000 jobs tied to the rail supply industry, including high-value manufacturing jobs spread across all parts of the country.”