Friday, September 22, 2006

Details of new Canadian emissions policy starting to emerge

Today's Globe and Mail reports that the Conservative government in Canada is preparing to release the long-waited new "emissions policy" that will include tougher rules for automobiles, based on California's "stringent" standards.

The Canadian government has been very careful in the use the generic word emissions in public statements this year Greenhouse gas emissions? Or smog-forming emissions? Or both? We are finally starting to get some clarity with this latest leak. Some.

It appears that the new policy will adopt something along the lines of the tough regulations on smog-forming emissions - NOx, VOCs, etc. - enforced by California's Air Resources Board for several years. If so, this is a sensible decision. Whatever you think of air quality concerns, having tougher standards in different states or provinces is ridiculous. Right now, automakers are actually constructing different versions of the same car. The Honda Accord you buy in California (or New York) will have lower smog-forming emissions than one bought in other states or Canada. So the technology exists.

On greenhouse gases, though, the sources quoted in the article are more vague. The Environment Minister has suggested the new policy are looking at a California plan to reduce CO2 emissions from automobiles (ie. via increase fuel efficiency). No details are given.

The California plan called for a 30% reduction, originally by 2016. A collection of eight northeastern states have suggested they may also adopt the rule, although nothing is definite. For a couple years, there have been calls from people on both sides of the border for Canada, the Kyoto signatory, to also join the initiative. The previous government was reluctant to put pressure on the automotive industry and instead adopted a toothless voluntary plan.

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