Posted on

Daily Car Trips in Edmonton Have Peaked (if We’re Serious About Climate Change)

traffic jam

Transportation is responsible for about one third of greenhouse gas emissions in Edmonton¹. 78% of trips are taken in SUVs (and cars)². And Edmonton needs to reduce its transportation emissions by about 90% to reach its goals. The city has two main strategies:

  • Strategy #1: Increase the number of bus/bike/walk trips from about 22% to 50% of all trips by 2040³
  • Strategy #2: Convert the other 50% of trips to electric cars, powered by a green electricity grid (the City doesn’t mention a timeline).

50% of trips by bus/bike/walk, the other 50% by electric car. The concept is simple, and we have all the tools, but as any city watcher will tell you, the politics around transportation in Edmonton are…complicated.

How big is the challenge of making 50% of trips climate-friendly in the next 19 years? 

  • Edmonton residents made 2.45 million SUV/car trips per weekday in 2015 (source
  • We made another roughly 700,000 walk/bike/transit trips per weekday. 
  • To achieve our climate goals:
    • SUV/car trips need to remain the same from now on. They’ve peaked!
    • All of the new growth in weekday trips, about 1.6 million new trips, needs to be in walk, bike, or transit trips (calculations - growth in walk/bike/transit daily trips). 

If we want to meet our climate goals, this transformation of how we move around has to happen in the next 19 years. Questions abound. How do we make non-car modes more desirable? And what about the other side of the coin, dare we make car trips ever so slightly less desirable? If future posts, we will explore both questions. And we’ll talk about electric cars too. They can help, but maybe not as much as we think.

References

  1. Revising Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy, November 2020, page 9
  2. 2015 Edmonton and Region Household Travel Survey – released April 2018, page 31
  3. Revising Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy, November 2020