Monday, 21 January 2008

Proposed Fuel Efficiency Standards Are a Step Backward

Even if Quebec and Manitoba go it alone among Canadian provinces and adopt the same fuel efficiency norms that California wants, they’ll still be far behind the benchmarks established by auto manufacturers and the Canadian government 1995. That’s the astounding conclusion to draw from a study of international fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT.)

The study, released last summer, looks at Canada, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Western Europe, Louis-Gilles Francoeur reported in Saturday’s Le Devoir. It shows that automobiles in Canada currently have an average fuel efficiency of 30 miles per US gallon (mpg), compared with an average of 25 mpg in the US and 23 mpg in California. But according to a voluntary agreement worked out by the Paul Martin government and the auto industry, the average is already supposed to drop to 34 mpg by 2010, while the much-acclaimed California norms would only hit 33 mpg in 2016. George W. Bush and Canada's Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon propose hitting that target in 2020. (For details, see "Passenger Vehicle Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Economy Standards: A Global Update " found under the Car and Light Truck Fuel Efficiency category on the ICCT's website.)

The 1995 agreement is supposedly still in force, but nobody is talking about it, certainly not when the current Conservative government wants to set a target of 35 mpg or 6.7 litres per 100 km by 2020.

And to think that in 1974 the dog and I drove to Toronto in a VW hatchback and made 34 mpg! The winds were with us, but talk about being ahead of our time!

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