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SFU researchers develop essential roadmap to drive down B.C. vehicle emissions

August 24, 2020
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Ground transportation is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally—and account for about 40 percent of emissions in British Columbia.

Increasing emissions from this sector suggest further growth despite current policies. Continuing down this path puts into question whether we can meet the Paris Agreement requirements to slow the planet’s warming.

Jonn Axsen, an associate professor in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, hopes to change that.

In a study funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Change Solutions, Axsen and collaborators Michael Wolinetz, an SFU adjunct professor, and Patrick Plötz, from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, carried out an in-depth evaluation of policies and policy combinations to reduce road transport emissions, and to determine which road transport policies work, in what combinations, and why.

Their findings, which lay out how we may achieve climate goals, have been published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The co-authors identify three regulations that need to lead the way: vehicle emission standards, low-carbon fuel standards, and a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) sales mandate.

The researchers point out that B.C. currently has the toughest versions of two of these policies. But that’s not all – complementary measures are also needed. These include road pricing and other efforts to improve active travel and public transit, as well as smart growth in cities.

They conclude that policymakers across the world need to implement a stringent mix of these policies, though the exact combination may vary by context.

Jonn Axsen is an associate professor in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.