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Evaluation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) Pilot Project on Reducing Emissions from Vehicles and Engines (PPRE)

6.0 Lessons Learned

The evaluation identified a number of lessons learned, and suggestions to improve the delivery of similar projects that are complementary to regulatory development.

Key lessons learned from the PPRE:

  • Allocating an appropriate amount of time for designing a program/project can lead to relevant and valuable results. The evaluation noted that the first year of program delivery was dedicated to designing a program that was relevant and met a demonstrable need that was not duplicative of other federal efforts. In this case, Environment Canada consulted with relevant federal partners and commissioned a study to identify an appropriate gap to be addressed by the pilot project.
  • Partnering with organizations that maintain expertise and existing networks can lead to effective results. For this project, Environment Canada elected to work with NGOs that maintained existing networks and had a comprehensive understanding of municipal fleets across Canada. Smart decision making around who to partner with can not only enhance program efficiencies by creating immediate access to existing networks, it can also provide greater assurance that project deliverables will be useful and credible and that they can effectively achieve results.
  • When provided with the appropriate tools and funding, Canadian municipalities can engage in actions to reduce emissions from their fleet vehicles. According to the FCM, up to 45% of Canada’s GHG emissions are under the direct/indirect control of municipal governments, and municipal fleets are responsible for 3–5% of total municipal GHG emissions as well as significant local health impacts. The PPRE has shown that by building the capacity of municipalities, providing tools, and providing assistance with accessing funds, emissions reductions can be supported and achieved. One of the key drivers for municipalities is the cost efficiencies that can result from fuel savings, along with emissions reductions.

Suggestions for future projects:

  • A one-window approach, providing information and resources to reduce emissions from all types of vehicles in the municipal fleet, would be beneficial. There is merit in addressing the emissions from all vehicle types that are present in municipal fleets more broadly, rather than focusing on HDD. Fleet managers deal with multiple types of vehicles and make integrated decisions that can best be informed and supported by a more comprehensive approach. Developing a one-window approach / portal that consolidates multiple information sources and provides information that is applicable to emissions from all vehicle types would be beneficial to fleet managers.
  • Long-term funding is required to ensure action is taken to reduce fleet emissions. The pilot project has increased the level of awareness of a group of municipal fleet managers and provided them with resources for reducing the emissions from their municipal fleet. However, municipalities continue to be forced to do more with less and an enhanced understanding alone is not sufficient to ensure that action is taken to reduce emissions. This pilot project has demonstrated that long-term funding sources from other sources should be identified.
  • The Government of Canada can play an important role in identifying innovative technologies for reducing vehicle emissions. The Government of Canada can play an important role in testing technologies for reducing on-road vehicle emissions. The PPRE-funded project in Ontario identified retrofit technology that has a proven ability to reduce emissions produced by school buses.
  • Environment Canada is best placed as an enabler for reducing vehicle emissions. The evaluation highlighted that this was a unique opportunity for Environment Canada to lead a pilot project that addressed an identified gap, was complementary to HDD regulations, and addressed both GHGs and air pollutants. However, other federal departments such as NRCan are now better placed to lead comprehensive capacity-building programs in this area, because of their mandate and their emerging work under programs such as FleetSmart.
  • A national emissions baseline for municipal fleets is required. The pilot project was unable to develop a national emissions baseline for municipal fleets. In order to target cost-effective emission reduction activities and measure change with municipal fleets, a baseline is required. However, the municipal fleet operating environment includes multiple players, with some municipalities working with partners/third parties (e.g., private fleets) to provide services to their jurisdiction. Therefore, calculating an estimate of the emissions produced by municipal fleet vehicles across Canada requires an in-depth study of municipal fleet management and operating systems. Although emissions data are available for the 12 largest urban areas in Canada, little is known about the level of emissions in the remaining municipalities.
  • The impact of capacity-building / outreach programs is maximized when delivered jointly with a suite of like-minded programs, including regulations/standards. Although education and capacity building are important tools to help municipalities take action to reduce their emissions, a suite of complementary and reinforcing initiatives, including regulations, provides them with the push and pull required for taking substantive action within their jurisdictions.
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