CN has pioneered a modal shift protocol that will create new carbon offset project opportunities for British Columbia’s transportation sector, CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau announced today.

Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a Crown corporation and leading provider of offsets in British Columbia (B.C.), has agreed to recognize the protocol for modal shift offset projects in B.C.

The modal shift protocol allows companies to generate carbon offsets by shifting freight shipments to rail from truck. An offset protocol is a detailed, specific set of instructions on how to carry out an offset project. A protocol may include information on procedures and requirements for project development, operation, and monitoring, as well as detailed instructions on how to quantify the offsets.

Shippers that demonstrate lower emissions from using a modal shift and meet the British Columbia Emission Offsets Regulation can use the resulting offsets to generate revenue through the sale of the offsets to PCT. Emission reductions may also help reduce carbon taxes and/or help companies meet their emissions reduction goals.

Reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions are two of the environmental benefits CN offers its customers. Rail has been shown to be up to six times more energy-efficient than heavy trucks, because rail consumes a fraction of the fuel to transport one tonne of freight one kilometer.

Mongeau said: “Freight transportation is an important part of the North American economy and a major producer of greenhouse gases (GHG). The modal shift protocol is a powerful tool for shippers seeking ways of reducing GHG emissions, and will simultaneously help to reduce heavy truck activity on highways. We hope other jurisdictions across North America will also adopt this innovative modal shift protocol as they develop new measures to combat climate change.”

B.C. Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap said: “CN is showing the type of low-carbon mindset that we would like to see all industries in B.C. follow. Finding ways to creatively lower emissions in all sectors of our economy is the way to stay competitive in the global marketplace and meet our target of reducing provincial emissions by 33 per cent.”

PCT Chief Executive Officer Scott MacDonald said: “We’re working across multiple sectors to stimulate the growth of a low-carbon economy in B.C. We congratulate CN for taking leadership role in this important sector and look forward to seeing new projects added to our diverse inventory of offsets.”

According to the 2007 B.C. Provincial Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, transportation accounts for 37 per cent of provincial GHG emissions, the largest share by sector.

In addition to pioneering the modal shift protocol, CN is taking comprehensive steps to reduce the energy and carbon footprint of its operations.