Overview

The transportation sector contributes approximately 12% of Alberta’s annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), making it the third largest contributor after oil and gas and electricity.

National and Provincial\/Territorial Greenhouse Gas Emission Tables show that in the transportation sector, nearly 90% of all Alberta GHG emissions come from the movement of freight (heavy-duty trucks and rail) and people (cars, trucks and motorcycles).

Personal transportation

Using their personal vehicles is the primary way Albertans travel, including within our major cities and between rural and urban centres:

  • 79% of all vehicles registered in Alberta were gasoline-burning engines
  • diesel comes in second at 11%, with diesel sales seeing a downward trend in recent years
  • alternative fuel types make up less than 1% of total registered vehicles

Passenger vehicles by fuel type in Alberta

Fuel Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Convert
(can switch between butane and gasoline)
2,948 2,716 2,446 2,171 1,915
Diesel 149,575 157,985 160,755 158,540 154,621
Electric 84 122 190 339 583
Flexible
(can use ethanol up to E85 or gasoline)
205,081 237,833 252,093 255,323 260,487
Gasoline 2,347,465 2,406,226 2,432,213 2,396,766 2,420,786
Hybrid
(has an electric and gasoline hybrid engine)
11,217 12,611 13,460 14,249 15,629
Multi
(burns both propane and gasoline)
210 213 190 177 171
Natural Gas 68 62 66 58 54
Propane 1,050 905 834 696 603
Other
(no firm description of the fuel source provided)
22 21 23 23 20
Total Passenger Vehicles in Alberta by Fuel Type 2,717,720 2,818,694 2,862,270 2,828,342 2,854,869

Source: Alberta Transportation

The data provided in this table is derived from the MOVES Vehicle Research File, and cannot be directly compared with data in tables sourced from the Alberta Vehicle Geographical Reports due to both datasets not being compiled simultaneously.

In 2018, more than 80% of new vehicle sales in Alberta were for:

  • trucks
  • minivans
  • SUVs
  • vans
  • buses

Find the most recent data on:

Alternative fuel opportunities in Alberta

A number of alternatives to gasoline and diesel are currently available, including:

  • battery electric
  • hydrogen fuel cells
  • compressed natural gas
  • ethanol (E85)
  • liquefied natural gas
  • biodiesels
  • propane

Battery electric vehicles (EVs) make up only 0.018% of total registered vehicles and 0.24% of 2018 new vehicle sales in Alberta, however, the province has seen a 70% growth in EV registrations since 2017.

When considering an EV, prospective buyers often consider:

  • affordability (upfront costs, and ongoing fueling and maintenance costs)
  • battery range
  • their awareness about EV technology

If you are interested in purchasing an EV, you may also want to consider that:

  • battery prices continue to decline making EVs more affordable
  • charging stations are increasingly appearing throughout Alberta (see if there’s a charging station near you)
  • if your daily travel mileage is 100 km or less, charging overnight at home can give you enough battery range

Learn more about electric vehicles, including which models and brands available in Canada.

Freight transportation

As Alberta’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for goods delivered by freight transportation, or commercial trucks. Alberta has nearly 27% of the registered trucks (>4,500 kg) in Canada, and has seen a 5% increase in registrations between 2013 and 2017.

Even though commercial vehicles make up only 16% of all vehicles registered in Alberta, heavy duty freight trucks release about 57% of all transportation-related emissions.

The federal government offers a number of resources for commercial transportation carriers to reduce their fleets’ fuel consumption, including:

Impacts on transportation

The Climate Atlas of Canada provides information about climate change impacts in Alberta and across Canada.

Climate change is already affecting our transportation system:

  • an expected 20% increase in the frequency of freezing rain, and a general increase of wet snow and winter rain, can increase the risk of road traffic disruptions and traffic accidents
  • an increase in freeze and thaw cycles can damage transportation infrastructure, such as bridges and overpasses, and soften and distort road pavement
  • higher precipitation levels, warmer temperatures and extreme weather events increase the risk of overwhelming storm management facilities, which can result in:
    • landslides
    • road washouts
    • blocked roads due fallen trees or power lines
  • during warmer, drier periods, the risk of wildfires caused by lightning strikes will increase, which could increase demand on or compromise access to roads

Read the Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Report (PDF, 625 KB) for more information.

Programs

Several programs are working to address the impacts of climate change on transportation systems and infrastructure:

GMC Task Group

The Greening Maintenance and Construction Task Group was formed in response to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Alberta Transportation, the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association and the Consulting Engineers of Alberta.

Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan

The Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta strategy designed to:

  • diversify our economy
  • create jobs
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change

The plan will help us transition to cleaner sources of electricity and provides opportunities for research and innovation that may help improve the environmental performance of electrified transport going forward.

Read the Climate Leadership Plan.

Alberta carbon levy

The carbon levy is a component of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan which encourages Albertans to reduce carbon pollution from their cars and homes by charging a levy on all transportation and heating fuels that emit greenhouse gases when burned.

Read about the carbon levy.

Emissions Reductions Alberta

Emissions Reductions Alberta is partnering with the Government of Alberta to address the province’s climate leadership priorities. Under its Biotechnology, Electricity, and Sustainable Transportation (BEST) program, ERA provides funding for clean, innovative technologies that promote:

  • sustainable transportation
  • biotechnology
  • electricity production

Read about Emissions Reductions Alberta.

Contact

For information on climate change and transportation in Alberta:

Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-638-9413
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: rupesh.patel@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Public Transportation and Climate Leadership
Alberta Transportation
3rd Floor, Twin Atria Building
4999 98 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 2X3