Canadian government to curb vehicle emissions

The Canadian government has pledged large-scale investment in urban transportation, fuel-cell technology, increasing fuel efficiency and marketing of low-emission vehicles in a bid to curb its number one source of greenhouse gas emissions.

On 11 June, the government announced that more than $109 million (US$72 million) would be invested in new initiatives, as part of an all-encompassing $500 million (US$ 329 million) action plan on climate change (see related story), which, even if fulfilled, will only take Canada about one-third of the way to the greenhouse gas reduction target that it set during the international Kyoto Protocol negotiations in 1997. In a report last year, Canadian greenhouse gas emissions were already found to be 19% above the level set under Kyoto (see related story), making transport emissions even more of a priority to control.

Among the initiatives announced are:

  • a $40 million (US$26 million) Urban Transportation Showcase Programme to demonstrate ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, among other challenges;
  • $30 million (US$20 million) over five years allocated to fund the development, integration and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) across Canada, which include advanced systems for traveller information, traffic management, public transport, commercial vehicle operations, emergency response management and vehicle safety;
  • a $23 million (US$ 15 million) investment in the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance to investigate different fuelling options for fuel-cell vehicles; and
  • the $16 million (US$10.5 million) Motor Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Initiative to improve new motor vehicle fuel efficiency through negotiation of a voluntary agreement with the automotive industry and the United States.

Another major part of the plan is a voluntary agreement on the control of emissions from passengers’ cars and light-duty trucks between the environment ministry, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the member companies of these associations. The agreement formalises a commitment from vehicle manufacturers to market the same low-emission vehicles being offered for sale in the United States in Canada for model years 2001 to 2003.

“CVMA and its members are pleased to be part of this voluntary initiative to bring cleaner vehicles to Canadians,” commented the organisation’s president, Mark Nantaisement as an example of industry government cooperation delivering further reductions in emissions from vehicles. “When operating on properly-formulated gasoline, which these vehicles are designed to use, smog-causing emissions will be reduced up to 70% relative to current regulated levels. This will ensure that Canadians will continue to drive vehicles that are among the cleanest in the world.”

Later this year, the federal government also plans to release draft regulations to phase-in further emission reductions for vehicles beginning with the 2004 model year. This will see the level of sulphur in gasoline reduced to a limit of 30 parts per million from 2005, a 90% drop in current average levels. The government will also bring in a regulation setting a limit of 15 parts-per-million for sulphur in on-road diesel fuel for 2006, down from today’s average of 330 parts per million.

“Efficient, effective transportation is vital to all Canadians, yet meeting that need also contributes significantly to smog and greenhouse gases,” said David Collenette, Minister of Transport. “Putting together an urban transportation strategy that brings vehicle emissions down…is essential.”

“Transporting goods and services across Canada contributes to one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions,” commented Ralph Goodale, Minister of Natural Resources. “Our economy, however, depends on moving people and goods over great distances. By focusing on fuel efficiency and innovative vehicle and fuel technologies, we can reduce our emissions, while maintaining our productivity and enhancing our competitiveness.”

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