A new study for the three NAFTA countries’ environment ministers, shows that trucks are taking a leadership role over rail in cleaning up to address health concerns over emissions.
Due to the expected reduction in emission rates for trucks, by 2020 total trade-related emissions of two of the most dangerous pollutants in terms of human health will decline or remain constant compared to current levels.
These emissions consist primarily of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which cause smog and is linked to respiratory problems, and particulate matter (PM-10), which has been linked to lung cancer. This will occur despite trade volumes that grow by two to four times. In the U.S.-Canada corridors, truck emissions of NOx and PM-10 per ton-kilometer will drop to about one-tenth their current levels.
Lower emission rates are also expected for railway locomotives, but the rates are not expected to decline as rapidly as truck emission rates because standards will not be as strict. Since vehicle turnover happens at a dramatically slower pace.
Consequently, in corridors with higher trade growth, like Toronto-Detroit, Vancouver-Seattle and Winnipeg-Fargo, NOx and PM-10 emissions from rail will increase by anywhere from 50 to 100 per cent by 2020.