Environmental impacts of the freight sector in Canada - ON-170

Preferred Disciplines: Environmental Science, Transportation (Masters, PhD or Post-Doc)
Company: The Pembina Institute 
Project Length: 4-6 months (1 unit)
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Toronto, ON
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: None

About the Company: 

The Pembina Institute is working to solve today’s greatest energy challenges — reducing the harmful impacts of fossil fuels while supporting the transition to an energy system that is clean, safe and sustains a high quality of life. We provide our expertise to industry and government leaders, and we advocate for a strong, science-based approach to policy, regulation, environmental protection and energy development.

Project Description:

This project will focus on the environmental impacts of the freight sector in Canada and will identify alternative fuel technologies to advance the decarbonization of freight and the goods movement sector.

The project will require the intern to produce credible third party knowledge on the financial viability of the different alternative fuel technologies for Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs) and their potential to support deep decarbonization (electric, natural gas, biodiesel, hydrogen, etc.) The intern will provide information on the cost of compliance to alternative fuel technologies and the current HDV emission standards currently in place in Canada. Additionally, research will include emission standards of the United States of America and how they differ from those in place in Canada

Additional research activities to include:

  1. Engage industry stakeholders (provincial trucking associations, Canadian Trucking Alliance, major owner-operators like loblaws, courier compaines like UPS) to understand the realities, timelines and business considerations for fleet replacement and how policy and investment can support it
  2. Engage industry and policy stakeholders to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of alternative refueling stations for HDVs
  3. Document existing federal and provincial investment programs in alternative refueling stations including through outreach to government representatives; research other opportunities to fund HDV electrification through the federal and provincial budgets
  4. Work with Pembina’s Environmental Policy Stimulator tool to Estimate the reduction potential of key measures where government has not provided these estimates
  5. Research and charactierize the off-road transportation sector in Canada (including construction, agriculture and off-road freight) and policy and program options to decarbonize this sector

Research Objectives:

  • Identify viable alternative fuel technologies for HDVs in Canada
  • Document current emission standards in Canada and how they compare to those in the U.S
  • Document existing provincial and federal investment programs that support alternative fuel
  • Document a list of preferred policy and program pathways with clear steps for implmenetation and identification of lead agency 
  • Document existing provincial and federal policies that support or deter alternative fuel usage


  • Desktop research (literature and grey literature review)
  • Expert Interviews
  • Transportation modelling
  • Quantitative GHG/energy analysis

Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Transportation/energy modelling
    • Understanding of GHG quantification
    • Broad understanding of Canadian transportation sector 

    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects
    2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform; or directly to Wilfred de Vega.