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Environment & Safety

Energy and Environment - Impact of Transportation

Growing Source of Canadian Emissions

trafficTransportation sector is Canada's second largest sector for energy use. It accounts for  29% of Canadian energy demand. High energy use means significant emissions impact. According to Environment Canada, transportation contributed 27% of Canada's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2008.

Growth in carbon emissions from on-road vehicles is concentrated in two areas: (1)  medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; and (2) pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. In each of these categories, the growth in emissions between 1990 and 2008 has exceeded 90%. Medium- and  heavy-duty trucks and buses weighing 4.5 tonnes or more represent only 4% of the on-road vehicles, but they accounted for one-third of the growth in carbon emissions since 1990. About 95% of the energy currently used for on-road vehicles in Canada is derived from crude oil.

Deploying Natural Gas Vehicles to Reduce Emissions

Natural gas is a lower carbon transportation fuel. On a well-to-wheels or total lifecycle basis, the use of natural gas reduces carbon emissions by an estimated 20-25% compared with conventional transportation fuels. Natural gas vehicles can also operate on renewable natural gas (RNG) produced from biogas from waste sources. Use of 100% RNG results in an 85-90% lifecycle carbon emission reduction according to Natural Resources Canada. While the supply of RNG or green gas is at an early stage in North America, early transportation projects in California include transit buses, refuse trucks, and milk delivery trucks operating on RNG.

Carbon Benefit of Natural Gas Vehicles

Annual Mileage
Carbon Benefit - CNG
Carbon Benefit - RNG

transit bus

Transit Bus










refuse truck

Refuse Truck





















pickup truck

Pickup Truck










Less Impact on Air, Land & Water

Transportation is a major contributor of air pollutants in communities in Canada. With the introduction of new emission standards in 2007 and 2010, new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles now match natural gas vehicles for tailpipe emissions. Natural gas continues to provide a significant carbon advantage with 20-25% lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. With 1 in 5 trucks and buses in Canada being more than 20 years old, encouraging the replacement of older vehicles with new natural gas vehicles would result in significant emissions benefits - both in terms of air quality and carbon reduction.

Natural gas is lighter than air. There is no risk of evaporative emissions from refuelling as the entire fuelling system is sealed. At station sites, natural gas will not contaminate soil or groundwater. Natural gas consists primarily of methane which is a greenhouse gas. The entire natural gas supply chain works to ensure that methane emissions from the production, transmission, local delivery, and use of natural gas are minimized.

Safe Vehicles & Stations

Canada has well-established codes, standards, and regulations to ensure that compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles are safe and that CNG refuelling stations are installed according to verified acceptable standards. As there are no commercial liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles or stations in Canada, this is an emerging area of activity. Just as in the past with the development of CNG codes and standards, the Canadian natural gas vehicle industry is engaged with governments and standards setting bodies to determine the best approach to LNG codes and standards development for the Canadian market.

Natural gas vehicles were first commercialized in Italy following World War II when conventional fuel was in short supply. Today there are an estimated 11 million natural gas vehicles in use in more than 30 countries around the world. In Canada, natural gas has been used as a transportation fuel for more than 25 years. The safety record of natural gas vehicles is strong and the industry works with local authorities to ensure the ongoing safe handling and use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Canada has particular expertise in the safe storage of compressed natural gas (CNG). Canadians have played a leading role in the development of Canadian and international codes and standards for CNG fuel storage tanks. Former Natural Resources Canada official Bernard James chaired the International Standards Organization working group that developed the standard for high pressure natural gas fuel storage cylinders.  This work provided the basis for standards used around the world today that govern the safe storage and use of CNG as a vehicle fuel. Mr. James was recognized for his work in this area by the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles in 2008.