Sustainable transportation

We are working with governments and stakeholders to get Canada moving with affordable, dependable, low-carbon transportation options.

Why is transportation important?

Transportation accounts for a quarter of Canada’s carbon emissions. Fortunately, many low-carbon solutions are readily available. With more than 80 per cent of Canadians now living in urban areas, fast reliable public transit and active and shared transportation options have never been better investments.

Active transportation and transit support healthy lifestyles, reduce illness and offer choice. We all breathe easier when air quality improves.

Low and zero-emissions vehicle technology is improving every year, giving consumers more choices than ever. Fossil-fuel-powered cars and trucks will soon be a thing of the past.

Canada can join other leading countries in shifting to a sustainable transportation network if we push leaders to enact proven policies and to invest in the infrastructure people need to avoid gas pumps. With your help we can get there.

People in Canada understand the role that transportation plays in worsening climate change. Forward-thinking transportation planning knows the most sustainable options are also often the most practical.

Ian Bruce, Director of Science and Policy

Reducing your carbon footprint starts with clean transportation

Most people know that tailpipe pollution is a major source of carbon emissions. They may believe there is no alternative to using fossil-fuel-driven vehicles. Most of us need to get places every day. It is critically important that we have practical, reliable options that don’t compromise the long-term health of the planet and ourselves.

Solutions are available. It’s time to speed the transition to sustainable alternatives. Governments need to invest in the necessary infrastructure and enact supportive policies, businesses must make zero-emissions vehicles available to consumers and people in Canada can show support by choosing sustainable transportation options.

Everyone benefits from cleaning up our transportation system. Canadians need access to affordable electric vehicles, bike lanes and fast public transportation.

Ian Bruce, Director of Science and Policy

Has Canada stalled on electric vehicles?

Mandatory sales targets are needed to get the wheels rolling!

Take action now

Building a sustainable transportation network for Canada

The David Suzuki Foundation advocates for sustainable transportation in Canada by focusing on electric vehicles, public transportation, active transportation and clean fuel standards. We provide opportunities to take action that will have real results for people throughout Canada.

Electric vehicles

Improvements in battery technology over the past decade have made electric cars and trucks more realistic options for everyday drivers. Not only are these vehicles more climate-friendly, they also save owners money by requiring less maintenance and running on cheaper power sources. Some provinces, including Quebec and B.C., are leading the way, but progress is slow in other parts of the country. We’re working to change that.

Photo: National Renewable Energy Lab via Flickr

Public transportation

Fast, affordable, reliable public transportation networks in urban environments provide massive benefits to the communities that invest in them. Providing options other than driving a personal vehicle helps get cars off the road, reduces congestion, alleviates stress and significantly improves health. Fewer cars on the road also means smoother movement of goods, a boon to local economies.

Active transportation

With more people than ever in Canada living in cities, alternative modes of travel are becoming increasingly popular. Riding a bike or walking to work not only reduces a person’s carbon emissions, but also offers health, lifestyle and financial benefits. There’s still a lot of work needed if we want safe bike routes and walking paths in Canadian cities. When local governments invest in active transportation infrastructure and design communities in a smart way, more people have the freedom to leave cars at home. They may even choose to stop owning a car at all or use car-share alternatives.

Clean fuel standard

It may be the least flashy of our focus areas, but clean fuel standards can have a major effect in reducing carbon emissions from gasoline during transition phases. As Canada shifts to options like electric vehicles and public and active transportation, cleaner-burning fuels reduce pollution impacts. Cleaner fuels are transition options as we move toward a fossil-fuel-free transportation future.

Photo: National Renewable Energy Lab via Flickr

The facts on sustainable transportation


Canada is ready for an electric vehicle boom

Most electric cars in Canada will be powered by clean electricity. But even in provinces that are still working to phase out coal, EVs are up to three times more efficient than gas-powered cars and create less carbon pollution.


Transit improves air quality

Traffic-related air pollution in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is responsible for about 1,000 early deaths and 3,000 to 4,000 hospital admissions each year for strokes, heart attacks, lung infections and asthma.


Clean fuel standards are working in B.C.

B.C.’s clean fuel standard is responsible for one-quarter of the province’s emissions reductions between 2007 and 2012.

Advocating for sustainable transportation investments

The Foundation is a leading voice in advocating for sustainable transportation options throughout Canada. Our experts meet with governments, publish reports and present at conferences. Our supporters call on governments to adopt effective and funded transportation policies.

Our work with the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council helped secure federal funding for major transit improvements throughout the region. In Toronto, we worked with local groups to support safer cycling along one of the city’s main arteries. In Quebec, we found that car transportation costs Quebeckers $43 billion a year! Costs include more money for public health, road safety and environmental emergencies.

We are advocating at federal and provincial levels for policies to make electric vehicles more available to people across the country.

Science and Learning Centre

More EVs needed in Canada

In 2018, electric vehicles accounted for just 2.5 per cent of total vehicle sales in Canada, far from the global goal of 30 per cent by 2030. We need to ramp up the transition to electric vehicles!

The federal government wants to boost electric vehicle sales to 10 per cent by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.

Mandatory targets for electric vehicle sales and a temporary purchase incentive program for consumers to help boost sales in the short term are needed to reach these goals.

In B.C., we’re asking the government to start the CleanBC climate plan off on the right foot by introducing an electric vehicle standard that isn’t watered down by industry.

Government actions are needed to get EVs in the hands of Canadians who want them. It’s a great way to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Ian Bruce, Director of Science and Policy

EVs are great! Help spread the word

Transportation is a big contributor to climate change emissions. Your letter to the editor can encourage more people to make the switch to electric.

Write your letter

Cycling and active transportation

Making cycling and walking easier is a great climate response. Switching from gasoline-powered cars to cycling is a great way to reduce carbon pollution. People will only make that switch if they believe that cycling infrastructure is safe. This is why we’re supporting safe, separated bike lanes, especially in urban environments.

We’re helping build a network of protected bike lanes across Canada’s most populous city. Lessons we learn in Toronto will help us grow support for bike lanes throughout Canada. We inform city councils about benefits, poll residents to understand values, advocate for policy reform and educate.

Aerial view of cars, bikes and pedestrians sharing the road

Did you know?

Bike lanes aren’t just popular for cyclists. A 2018 Ekos poll we commissioned found 75 per cent of drivers support Toronto bike lanes!

Where we’re at:

  • In 2017, we helped convince Toronto city council to build a protected bike lane on Bloor Street, the city’s main east-west thoroughfare.
  • In 2018, we helped to pass a 25-year plan for downtown Toronto that prioritizes cycling, walking and public transit over private car use.
  • Now, we’re urging council to build more protected bike lanes and extend the Bloor lane westward to High Park. We’re also advocating for new lanes on the main arterial in the city’s east end, Danforth Avenue and Yonge Street, a central north-south route.

Most of the fuel used to power a car is either lost or used to propel the massive vehicle, whereas fuelling a bike’s engine — that’s you — requires only a healthy diet.

David Suzuki

Extend the popular Bloor bike lane!

Tell Toronto council to extend the popular Bloor bike lane westward to High Park and support clean air, safe roads and climate change mitigation.

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