The Transportation Sector Can Drive Us Towards Sustainability

Did you know that the oil and gas and transportation sectors are the single largest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane) in Canada? In fact, together they account for 52 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Today we are talking about the importance of sustainability in the transportation sector, and how you can contribute to a cleaner and healthier future. 

We discussed the concept of a low carbon economy last week, which essentially involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions without significantly affecting its economic growth. The transportation sector can play a pivotal role in the transition towards a low carbon economy while also improving air quality and overall human and ecosystem health. 

Sustainable transportation refers to any mode of transportation that supports the mobility needs of a society while causing the least impact on the environment. This enables current and future generations to meet their mobility needs.

Sustainable transportation modes make use of renewable energy sources (like solar, wind, or hydro) and are not based on non-renewable resources like gasoline, propane, and natural gas. Some examples of sustainable transportation modes include walking, biking, electric vehicles or public transportation, such as buses or light-rail transit, especially those powered by hydroelectricity.  

Some of the benefits of sustainable transportation include reduced traffic congestion on the roads and minimizing environmental impacts such as air pollution associated with idling in traffic jams. Many of these modes of transportation are also economically cheaper. Biking or walking also increases our physical activeness, which can help prevent various health problems. Public transit can help improve our social interactions thus giving us a better sense of community. Reducing cars on the roads can also help reduce respiratory diseases, such as asthma, by reducing smog. 

The role of the government and the private sector is critical for encouraging people to shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation. There are various ways to encourage this transformation by making public transport infrastructure more reliable, convenient and accessible for all, increasing the affordability of electric vehicles, designing carpooling programs, and having well-developed bike lanes in cities. This will not only contribute to minimizing our carbon footprint and the impacts of climate change due to transportation, but it will further help us to improve the air quality and health of our community. 

The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg and Sam Gauthier) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

Photo Caption - "An example of sustainable transportation via public transit systems"