Canada has been a world leader in defining and developing the concept of sustainable transportation. In 1996, Canada’s Centre for Sustainable Transportation (CST) began operation as a federally chartered non-profit membership organization. CST drew participants from government, industry and academia who sought to understand the implications of climate and energy shifts for the transportation sector, and to prepare for such changes. With start-up funds from Environment Canada and Transport Canada, CST provided leadership in pursuing sustainable transportation, first by defining what the concept meant and envisioning what such a future would look like. The CST proposed a definition of sustainable transportation in 1997, updated in 2000 to the following:
A sustainable transportation system is one that:
- allows the basic access needs of individuals and societies to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations.
- is affordable, operates efficiently, offers choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy.
- limits emissions and waste within the planet’s ability to absorb them, minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level, reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise.
Canada’s leadership in defining sustainable transportation has been widely recognised beyond our borders, and has been adapted for use by other jurisdictions, including the European Union and California.