Thursday, October 18, 2007

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cars and Light Trucks in Canada

Apologists for the Gateway Program have begun to claim that we can expand highways and reduce ghg (greenhouse gas) emissions because cars are getting "cleaner" and "total emissions continue to decline."

The problem is that they are confusing different types of emissions. It is true that emission controls for automobiles have reduced some types of toxic emissions. But these controls do NOT reduce CO2 - the major ghg emission.

Fuel efficiency does reduce ghg emissions. But after a sharp decline in fuel efficiency in the 70s and early 80s the combined fuel efficiency of light duty vehicles started rising in the 1990s (partly because people started switching to SUVs, vans and trucks from cars). see:

GHG emissions from cars actually declined from 1990 -2005 but the total ghg emissions for car and light trucks increased (again because people have been shifting to SUVs, vans and trucks). In fact the total ghg emissions from light vehicles increased by 16%.

Here are the totals for light vehicles:

1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
73.82 71.66 73.27 75.06 76.91 76.97 76.03 79.63 81.78 81.55 80.8 82.75 84.28 85.01 86.18 85.9

It is clear the trend for GHG emissions from vehicles is up. If we encourage even more vehicles to take to the roads by expanding highways how can we meet Premier Campbell's target of a 30% reduction?

Update: Some people asked for trends specific to the GVRD for ghg emissions. So here it is:

"In 2003, the Greater Vancouver Regional (GVRD) published the report 'Forecast and Backcast of 2000 Emission Inventory for the Lower Fraser Valley Airshed 1985-2025'. Emissions in the report were calculated using an emissions model. GVRD greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles are estimated to have increased 28% between 1990 and 2000."
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