Montréal (Québec), Peterborough (Ontario), April 21, 2022 - On this eve of Earth Day, Équiterre and Green Communities Canada are thrilled to launch the new Canadian Electric School Bus Alliance (CESBA): an initiative that aims to accelerate the electrification of school buses in Canada.
Funded by the Consecon Foundation, the Echo Foundation and the Trottier Family Foundation, CESBA is steered by a diverse and well-versed committee in the issue of electric school buses. These members include the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Ecology Action Center, For Our Kids, the Pembina Institute and Pollution Probe.
CESBA’s charter : a shared vision
CESBA rallies provincial and federal school bus stakeholders, as well as school bus electrification advocates in education, health, economy and technology development across Canada. CESBA will produce new research and organize knowledge-transfer events that will help set up measurable Canada-wide policies in order to greatly accelerate the electrification of school buses by 2040.
Therefore CESBA will seek policy commitments at the federal, provincial and local levels of government that will enable all Canadian school bus fleets to transition from diesel to electric power by 2040. Five guiding principles in the CESBA Charter inspire the Alliance’s work : (1) recognizing the significant role of the transportation sector in urgently addressing the climate crisis; (2) placing the health of children and future generations at its core; (3) creating inclusive low-carbon communities that secure climate justice; (4) acknowledging the necessity for a just and fair transition of the school bus manufacturing and operations sectors and (5) promoting sustainable procurement and manufacturing practices relating to transport electrification.
Canada’s current school bus ecosystem
Sustainable mobility and road transportation have become key issues in a world where the climate crisis impacts couldn’t be more tangible on our collective well-being. An estimated 2,2 million children per year take school buses in Canada, and are therefore exposed to air pollution from diesel-fueled vehicles, which represent 70% of the current school bus fleet.
The famous yellow North American school bus has been transporting children to school since the 1930s, fuelled almost exclusively by fossil fuels. That is still the case today, despite the fact that Canada has set the goal of attaining 100% zero-emission for medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV) by 2040 in its Emissions Reduction Plan. The federal government has also committed to support transit agencies and school boards in transitioning their bus fleets to zero-emission technology through the planning and the purchasing of at least 5,000 zero-emission buses along with the necessary supporting infrastructure.
Canada needs to transition to electric school buses
Transitioning to electric school buses shows great potential for reducing reliance on fossil fuel in Canada’s transport sector. The transport sector is responsible for 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while diesel and gas powered school buses add to the concentration of air pollutants. In fact, transport is one of the remaining two sectors, along with energy, whose GHG emissions have steadily increased over the last 30 years. Scientists have urged governments to decrease their GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Air pollution is not only linked to environmental impacts but also long-term acute respiratory problems. Sustaining a school bus fleet that runs mainly on fossil fuels exacerbates public health concerns, including air quality and noise pollution.
CESBA welcomes new members
CESBA is proud to confirm the participation of eight members including Propulsion Québec, Positive Zero Transport Futures (University of Toronto), Association of School Transportation Services of British Columbia (ASTSBC), Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE), David Suzuki Foundation, Electric Mobility Canada, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), the Climate Reality Project Canada and Bus Carriers Federation.
With this launch, CESBA is thrilled to open the door to new members that have an expertise or an interest in school bus electrification and wish to contribute with their knowledge to the conversation on sustainable mobility.
Electrifying school buses can reduce our transportation emissions, can help improve air quality and reinforce Canada's electric automotive industry with 'Made in Canada' buses. It is high time that Canada fast-tracked the electrification of its school bus fleet — for the sake of today’s and tomorrow’s youth.
Visit CESBA’s website: eschoolbusalliance.ca
Notes to Editors:
2.2 million : According to the latest data provided by Transport Canada, last updated in 2017, Task Force on School Bus Safety
Scientists : According to the third IPCC report.
Air pollution: Based on a report run in Quebec for Mon Autobus Branché: reducing air pollution and therefore improving air quality and public health. Diesel-powered school buses are responsible for emissions of air pollutants (NOx, CO, fine particles (PM2.5)) that affect people's health, especially children, who ride the buses. Conversely, electric buses produce no such emissions during vehicle operation. CESBA will be working with experts to collate Canada-wide data.