Canada, automakers announce agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

On April 5, the Canadian government and automobile manufacturers signed an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles by 10 million tons between 2007 and 2010 and 5.3 million tons in 2010. If implemented correctly, this reduction will be consistent with the first phase of the California Clean Car Law (known as the Pavley Law).

According to the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, to achieve the reduction objective, the Canadian automobile industry will deliver on a broad action plan that will:

  • Offer and promote a wide variety of fuel saving vehicle technologies including hybrid powertrains, cylinder deactivation technology, advanced diesel technology, alternative fuel compatible vehicles and other emerging technologies.
  • Pursue design and engineering improvements without compromising vehicle occupant safety.
  • Bring forward technologies that promote fuel savings such as on-board diagnostics and tire pressure monitoring systems.
  • Help Canadians understand what they can do to reduce GHG emissions and will support positive consumer and driver behavior with respect to the purchase, maintenance and operation of cars and light duty trucks across Canada.
  • Encourage the appropriate use of alternative fuels such as ethanol, clean diesel and bio diesel and will work with the government and fuel providers in this regard.
  • Work with the government to support Canadian-based research and development related to future technologies with the potential to significantly reduce GHGs after 2010 such as hydrogen fuel cells, the development of a hydrogen infrastructure in Canada and other emerging technologies.

"This agreement is a breakthrough because it will both cut global warming emissions in Canada, and set the stage for similar reductions in the United States," said Dan Becker, Washington Director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program.

Right now, California and seven eastern states either have, or are in the process of adopting clean car laws. With the addition of Canada, one-third of the North American auto market will have to meet California's tougher emissions rules.

This new agreement is sure to be closely monitored by groups on all sides of the debate in the United States. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the California Clean Car Law, which is the basis for Canada's action.

"Automakers have long claimed they cannot cut global warming emissions -- and won't. Now they are promising Canada that they will. The (U.S.) automakers have now lost their last excuse for inaction," according to the Sierra Club.

The Memorandum of Understanding is available here: http://www.cvma.ca/supportfiles/mou-en-20050405.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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