By Elsa Joly, Technical Advisor (eng.jr., M.Sc.)
While the debate on Ecotax rages in France, let’s look at what Quebec does to reduce Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from freight transport. As a reminder, the HGV (heavy goods vehicles) Ecotax that will be implemented in France in January 2014 is in line with the polluter-pays principle and aims to make trucks pay the actual cost of their road use in order to finance alternate transport infrastructures (rail and water).
In Quebec, the Action Plan on Climate Change (PACC) 2006-2012 targeted two measures to reduce GHG emissions from freight transport: Measure 8 was intended to foster the implementation of intermodal projects, while Measure 9 aimed to improve energy efficiency in freight transport. These measures have resulted in two government programs: PAREGES (Assistance Program Aiming to Reduce or Avoid Greenhouse Gas Emissions through the implementation of intermodal Rail and Marine Transport projects) and PEET (Assistance Program for Improving Energy Efficiency in Road, Rail and Marine Transportation), both closed in March 2013.
According to the report of the Ministry of Transport (MTQ), 40 projects were funded through the PAREGES, for a total of $ 52 million and reductions of up to 300,000 tonnes of CO2eq/yr. Several projects funded consisted in building transhipment centers to facilitate the transition from truck to rail or to maritime transport. Others projects implemented through this grant program included installation of conveyors, ferry construction or the extension of railways.
The PEET, in turn, reduced GHG emissions by nearly 60,000 tonnes of CO2eq/yr, with a total government assistance of $ 18 million. Projects such as electrification of ferries, modernization of ships equipment, green locomotives or route optimization have seen the day thanks to the program.
Many companies in Quebec which are proactive and keen to reduce their environmental footprint have benefited from these assistance programs, the results of which are tangible in terms of GHG emission avoidance. GHG verification by GHG experts was indeed required for all projects to ensure their real environmental benefits.
With the publication of the PACC 2013-2020, new programs are being prepared and will, we hope, continue efforts to reduce the impact of transportation in terms of GHG emissions.by