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Canada will control greenhouse gases, although only when the US does. Last week, Canada and the US jointly announced stricter limits on GHG emissions from new cars (light-duty vehicles). This is the first-ever federal regulation to directly control GHG emissions across Canada. Our federal government also announced proposed regulations to require an average renewable fuel (ethanol) content of five per cent in gasoline by September 2010.

The greenhouse gas regulation will have the following highlights:

§  The regulation sets targets for model years 2011-2016. Work on 2017 targets will begin soon.

§  The Canadian regulation uses the same size-based GHG emissions functions as in the new EPA rule. This means that the Canadian standards are technically the same as the American ones, but the effect on cars sold in Canada will likely be different. Since Canadians buy smaller cars, on average, our effective GHG emission target, per car, should be lower. This is an important win for environmentalists, such as Bob Oliver of Pollution Probe.

§  Environment Canada estimates that fleet-average GHG emissions of new vehicles in 2016 will be 25 per cent lower than the 2008 average. That’s about 5 per cent better than the level projected for the U.S. fleet.

§  The regulations will be issued under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), which has a quasi-criminal enforcement framework. Thus, automakers could be prosecuted and convicted if they do not meet the new emissions targets.

§  For 2017 and beyond, Environment Canada and the EPA are planning to collaborate on regulations that do more to recognize the different characteristics of U.S. and Canadian vehicle fleets.

Lobbying is continuing to extend similar rules to heavy trucks.

I suspect it was no accident that the federal Conservatives made this important announcement, just as they were cutting back federal environmental assessment, and issuing a Budget with no mention of climate change. This government does want some support from the environmental community, even as it pursues its agenda; that must be why Pollution Probe was invited to be part of last week’s announcement, alongside the Federal Minister of the Environment, the CEO of Ford of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.  See:

§  http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Canada/ID=1457894627

§  http://watch.ctv.ca/news/#clip283905

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