Week 12, March 23: Zero Emissions Railways, Freight and Heavy Equipment
This is one of the 26 segments of Guy Dauncey’s Climate Emergency: A 26-Week Transition Program for Canada. Excerpted by permission.
Canada has 46,000 kilometres of railways, almost all of which operate on diesel. In 2017, GHGs from the rail sector were 6.6 Mt CO2e, representing 0.9% of Canada’s 716 Mt. Only 129 kilometres are electrified. Studies indicate that electrification costs around $5 million per kilometre. This suggests that spread over 20 years, complete electrification would cost $230 billion, $11.5 billion a year, or $32,400 per tonne of avoided CO2e.
- We will commission a Railways Zero Emissions Study of Canada’s most-used stretches of railway to consider and cost electrification and the use of hydrogen, zero lifecycle emissions biofuel or synthetic diesel as more cost-effective alternatives. Cost: $1 million one-off. (#28)
- We will commission a Passenger Rail Study to recommend changes to management practices to make passenger rail use faster and eliminate delays due to commercial traffic. Cost: $200,000 one-off. (#29)
High-speed rail would cost a lot more. High Speed Railways in China: A Look at Construction Costs indicates that China may have reduced costs to US$17-$21 million per kilometre for a 350 kilometres/hour line, compared to $25-$39 million in the Eurozone. In 2014, a 300-kilometres route from Calgary to Edmonton was costed at $20-$33 million per kilometre. We will postpone any decision about investing in high-speed rail until we properly understand the cost of operating a zero carbon railway network across Canada.
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Heavy-duty trucks produce 60 Mt of CO2e a year, representing 37% of Canada’s transportation GHG emissions and 8.4% of total emissions. Industrial projects depend on diesel-burning equipment.
- To assist the transition to hydrogen, electric drive or synthetic fuels, we will expand Canada’s Green Freight Assessment Program to include a Green Freight and Equipment Investment Program, supported by $500 million a year in interest-free loans,. Cost: $500 million pa. (#30)
- We will become active partners in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), supporting its work for greater fleet efficiency. NACFE recently reported that commercial battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell trucks will reach a lower total cost of ownership than conventional fleet vehicles by 2030.
Global shipping runs on dirty heavy fuel oil, which is exempt from all energy taxes under the European Union’s Energy Tax Directive, and which benefits from a fossil fuel subsidy of €24 billion a year.
GHG emissions from shipping and aviation were omitted from the 1997 Kyoto protocol and have been excluded from carbon regulations ever since. Shipping companies have agreed to halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under a 2018 plan brokered by the International Maritime Organization, but this is insufficient to enable a phaseout of Canada’s emissions by 2040. The Danish shipping company Maersk has pledged to operate carbon-neutral vessels by 2030, targeting net zero emissions by 2050, and is investing US $1 billion a year to achieve its goals.
- We will seek to form a partnership with Maersk.
- We will invest $500 million a year in Zero Emissions Ship Design Research and Development for application in Canada’s shipyards. This will expand on Natural Resources Canada’s existing Hull Design Efficiency Challenge. Cost: $500 million a year (#31)
- We will work with other nations to levy a global carbon tax on all shipping.