WWF-Canada Blog:
Climate


Finding the most efficient way to get from point A to B

Part three of the National Sweater Day blog series:  Three practical Canadian solutions for saving energy and the climate.

Did you know that if each person in Canada avoids driving their car for one day every month, it would be equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road every year? This is just one day of working from home or taking public transit. That’s just one of many ways we can reduce the climate impact of transportation in Canada. With transportation being 30% of our country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, we can’t afford to ignore any opportunity to be more efficient in how we get from A to B. Thankfully, virtually all sustainable transportation options are or can be more cost effective, healthier, and less polluting than relying on the fossil-fuel-powered car.

A light rail transit train, powered by wind-generated electricity and part of the city's public transit system, moves forward on its own right of way beside a traffic jam in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. © Michael Buckley / WWF-Canada

A light rail transit train, powered by wind-generated electricity and part of the city’s public transit system, moves forward on its own right of way beside a traffic jam in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. © Michael Buckley / WWF-Canada

Leaving the car at home is the most obvious solution, though for many, not a practical choice (at least at present). If you have to use the car, look into the less polluting, more efficient electric variety. The electric vehicle (EV) motor transfers 75% of the battery power to the wheels, compared to the traditional internal combustion engine, which converts only 20% of gasoline power into motion. This equation looks even better when the electricity for your car comes from clean, renewable sources. That’s why, in addition to working to increase renewable energy, WWF is calling for more government investment support for electric-powered transportation and infrastructure, such as installing more charging stations and offering EV purchase incentives. We’ve set a goal of 30,000 workplace and public charging stations by 2020 and more provinces to offer consumer incentives like the ones currently offered by Ontario, Quebec and B.C. Find out how Canada is doing on its road to 600,000 EVs on the road by 2020.

Electric cars tent outside the Bella Centre where you can get a lift to copenhagen in a choice of electric cars. COP 15, United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark. © WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse

Electric cars tent outside the Bella Centre where you can get a lift to copenhagen in a choice of electric cars. COP 15, United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark. © WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse

In order to give people more options to leave the car at home, we need more investments in our public transport system as well, and more incentives for people to use it. When you have well-planned, accessible, affordable and convenient options available, travelling by public transit is no sacrifice or hardship: it becomes cheaper, faster, safer and more convenient than commuting by car.

In the end, sustainable transportation is not just about giving up our car completely (though if you can, it’ll sure save you a lot of money!). Your choices will depend in large part on where you live and work: growing up in small town in Northern Ontario, my transit options were rather different than what my son will experience where we live now near downtown Toronto. Reducing our energy use requires us to explore solutions in our community, and make smart choices that still allow us to travel with comfort and ease. It’s also about encouraging governments to make smart investments that, over time, give us better choices.

Thanks to everyone who participated in National Sweater Day last week!  Just because the day is over, we can still do our part to help conserve energy and call on decision-makers to do the same. Learn more about climate change and energy issues and stay tuned for Earth Hour on March 29th