Transportation is key to reaching our climate goals

Sustainability used to be regarded as a buzzword – a way to bolster a company’s corporate responsibility identity.  Today due to the undeniable effects of climate change and the persistence of the academic, advocacy and non-profit sectors, sustainability has become a priority for policymakers at all levels of the political spectrum.  


Sustainability is now recognized as a competitive advantage, and a critical component to a company or government’s risk management strategy. Those that can adapt accordingly will thrive in a low-carbon economy, while those that don’t will suffer the costs of inaction.


In Canada, federal and provincial governments have committed to action through carbon emission targets, including here in Ontario, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a reduction in annual CO2 emissions by 17.6 megatonnes.


2030 is only eight years away and any action to make real change towards our targets must be swift and strategic. Transportation in particular has been regarded as one of the “highest stakes plays” when it comes to a low-carbon future, according to the Institute for Sustainable Finance at Queen’s University.  Unlocking emissions reductions in this sector will have the “most substantial impact on provincial and jurisdictional targets”. 


The megatrends of urbanization, digitization, globalization, and demographic change, all mean the demand for mobility will continue to increase rapidly. Without an intentional focus on decarbonization and dematerialization in our supply chains, we won’t be able to effectively tackle climate change through transportation. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment’s recently forecasted that its current policies only enable the province to achieve less than 20 per cent of the planned emission cuts by 2030, as detailed by Ontario’s auditor general.


Encouraging the use of more sustainable mass transit is an important lever.  The transportation industry needs to apply this sustainability lens throughout the entire lifecycle of its products, including their procurement. This particularly applies when it comes to procurement decisions – which can either progress or delay long-term sustainability goals and protect constituents from the harmful impacts of climate change.  In short, procurement must be done through a lens of sustainability.


It has been encouraging to see Montreal’s public transit Exo’s decision to invest in Siemens Mobility’s Tier 4 Charger locomotives, which compared to existing Tier 0 locomotives, have 95% particulate matter reduction and 89% emissions reduction capability. Continuing to prioritize more sustainable travel – which require more capital up-front but have a longer-term payoff – are the types of investments that future-forward governments must make to improve the communities in which we live.


Climate change has shifted from the political into our everyday lives -- taking away homes and destroying more lives as we gird ourselves for storm after storm and wildfires that refuse to extinguish.


We need to ensure that each and every one of us work responsibly in building up our next generation infrastructure.  We need to ensure that it will be with technology, products, and vendors each doing their part to position us all better in the future.


Our planet demands it.


Written by:
Yves Desjardins Siciliano, CEO
Siemens Mobility Limited