Reduce Emissions, Improve Efficiency and Increase Employment in Renewables

Futuristic electric rail photo

The freight industry CEO calls for action in an open letter to political candidates and leaders

As we approach another historic election, Canada’s three main political parties are largely silent on the most important issue of our time: climate change. If we cannot keep the majority of the fossil fuels in the ground, and switch on time to renewables before crossing the 2 degree Celsius threshold, we put our entire civilization at risk.

As CEO of a freight transportation company, I want to take a moment and ask Canada’s political leaders: “What will the Liberals, NDP, or Conservatives do differently, and implement immediately, to make Canada run largely on renewables by 2030 or 2050?” This question extends to business leaders as well: “What can we do to transform businesses and industries to drastically reduce CO2 emissions starting now?”

The freight industry is one of the biggest polluters. Twenty-five percent of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Ten percent comes from freight, and seven percent from heavy-duty diesel trucks alone. The tragedy is that 80% of these trucks are driving one way empty, and almost 100% of this freight can be moved across the country by rail, reducing emissions by 65%.

If we just systematically fill the trucks and move all possible long-haul freight to rail, we can cut emissions immediately by over 60%. This can be done right now, with no new technology, just by giving shippers the option to use rail or empty trucks.

Over a twenty-year period, the trains can be converted to renewable source electric, up to 100% of our transportation can be renewable electric, and our cities can be powered by solar, wind, and hydro. Which party is laying the blueprint for this?

Due to correct planning, subsidies, and policy, 30% of total electricity in Germany is already coming from renewables, and Germany will be using 80% renewables by 2025. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created in the sector.

In Canada, clean energy already provides more jobs than tar sands and this number can grow dramatically with correct policies and investment. Show me the major party that includes this program as a key part of their platform.

Visualize the future. Freight is picked up by renewable electric trucks, transferred to electric rail for the long haul, with last-mile delivery by renewable electrics again. The long-haul fleet, serving areas with no rail, is 100% powered by zero-emission hydrogen-electric hybrids. It’s not science fiction, it’s all entirely possible with the technology we have right now. It is just a matter of vision, political will, policy, and implementation.

Eric Beckwitt, CEO of Freightera

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