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Decarbonizing urban freight transport

Reducing GHG emissions from trucks in Montreal

With online commerce on the rise, Équiterre co-published a report in 2021 entitled “Reducing truck emissions in Montreal: Guiding principles and a policy toolbox for low-carbon urban freight”, which explores four concrete solutions for reducing freight transport’s environmental footprint.

The challenge

The explosion of online commerce during the pandemic has resulted in a proliferation of home deliveries, which in turn has generated more traffic congestion, noise, threats to community safety and, it goes without saying, air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Current practices in urban freight transport and deliveries are keeping Montreal from meeting its socio-environmental and climate objectives.

It is high time that we reform urban freight transport and delivery practices. There are many solutions to reduce the impacts of urban deliveries on their “last mile.”


Share of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in Montreal

 If you got it, a truck brought it to you. 

Jimmy Hoffa

Équiterre's work 

In collaboration with Pembina Institute and Jalon, Équiterre undertook a vast field research project comprising:

  • A series of interviews and workshops with public servants, businesses, industry actors and non-governmental organizations to discuss ways to overcome common challenges and obstacles to deploying low- or zero-emission urban delivery vehicles and related practices in the Montreal region.
  • The identification of best practices and lessons learned from the experiences of communities that have limited the use of polluting vehicles in neighbourhoods.
  • The analysis of policies, regulations and other applicable considerations for urban planning and transport to restrict the use of polluting vehicles, hasten adoption of zero-emission delivery vehicles and better manage urban freight transport activities with respect to last mile delivery.
  • The development of a guide and toolbox to identify and define solutions and to catalogue actions that can be taken to accelerate their rollout in the Montreal region.
  • The dissemination of the guide to Montreal’s officials and elected representatives, as well as other stakeholders.

At the end of this process, Équiterre and its partners identified four solutions to reducing truck emissions in Montreal:

  1. Increase the use of electric-assist cargo bikes and mini-hubs;
  2. Optimize urban delivery systems and logistics;
  3. Increase direct delivery to customers through parcel lockers;
  4. Accelerate the deployment of zero-emission delivery vehicles in cities.

In its report, Équiterre and its partners also provided strategic tools and recommendations to help governments implement the proposed solutions. Recommendations included regulatory incentives and deterrents, including tax relief and green taxation.


1 year of research

+35 stakeholders interviewed

1 advisory committee composed of representatives from 8 key organizations

4 concrete solutions

3 levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal) recommendations

1 city working to reduce its emissions

Project history 


Publication of final report

The Pembina Institute, Jalon and Équiterre, supported by their advisory committee, saw the fruit of their labour released into the world.


Project launch in collaboration with Pembina Institute and Jalon 

Bringing together its respective expertise in urban logistics, sustainable mobility, and consumption and research, the three partners began their work to help reduce GHG emissions from trucks and improve the well-being of neighbourhoods in Montreal.


Équiterre was ably assisted by the Pembina Institute, a longstanding partner on the federal scene, and by Jalon, renowned for its urban mobility expertise within the Montreal region.