Ecology Ottawa advocates for the electrification of school transportation

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Éecology Ottawa pleads for the electrification of school transportation

In Ottawa, switching to electric school buses would reduce emissions by 17 to 20 tonnes, a local environmental group calculates. (File photo)

Ottawa environmental group is advocating for city and Ontario school bus fleets to be powered by electricity instead of grid fossil fuels.

Earlier this month, Ecology Ottawa released a report advocating for this transition and detailing the health and environmental consequences of diesel buses.

The organization set up an air quality monitoring program in 2020, which allowed them to find that lower socioeconomic groups were more exposed to CO2 emissions, which includes more risk.

The list of negative health effects of diesel emissions is incredibly long, explained Ecology Ottawa Climate Change Campaigner Cheryl Randall in an interview with CBC.

< p class="e-p">The latter focused in particular on the effect of diesel emissions on the health of the youngest.

Children are particularly vulnerable due to their small stature and less developed respiratory systems, she reports.

Converting Ottawa's diesel buses to electric buses would reduce the city's carbon emissions by 17 to 20 tonnes, Randall believes. diesel buses, this would reduce emissions by 340,000 tonnes, calculates Ecology Ottawa.

That's a really significant reduction we could see, insists Ms. Randall.

In 2017, the province started a pilot project with 13 electric school buses, but when the government Progressive Conservatives came to power the following year, the program was eliminated.

This means that the province did not collect data from these buses which are still in circulation, says Randall.

It's a really unfortunate decision, because the money had already been spent and if [the Progressive Conservatives] had kept the pilot going, they would have at least had some data.

According to Ms. Randall, the main obstacle to the electrification of school transport is the higher initial cost of electric vehicles.

She adds that a federal program already makes it possible to reimburse 50% of the cost of buses and charging infrastructure, but the provincial government still needs to offer its support.

In the rest of the country, the provinces where this transition has taken place have all had provincial support, argues Ms. Randall.

The latter adds that Ecology Ottawa intends to lobby the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to fund the transition to electric school transportation.

< em>With information from CBC News

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