First in-depth analysis finds federal greenhouse gas regulations may have little or no effect

OTTAWA, ON —Proposed federal
regulations to cut emissions from cars and trucks may have little or no effect,
according to the first in-depth analysis of the regulations, conducted by the
Pembina Institute.

Environment Minister Jim
Prentice has presented the regulations, which apply to vehicle model years
2011-16, as the centrepiece of the federal government's climate change
initiatives, claiming that they will "generate substantial benefits for the
environment, consumers and industry alike." But Pembina's analysis shows the relatively
weak level of the standards, plus a major loophole in the regulations, may allow
automakers to avoid improving fuel economy beyond business-as-usual levels before
2016, or even for the regulations' entire lifespan.

"When we looked closely at
the government's own numbers, we found that the regulations, as currently
drafted, may simply allow the auto industry to carry on with
business-as-usual," said Matthew Bramley, Director of the Pembina Institute's
Climate Change Program. "Doing better than business-as-usual is essential,
because total emissions from Canada's cars and light trucks are projected to
increase steadily in the absence of new action by governments."

Assuming manufacturers
continue the historical trend of making new vehicles more fuel efficient
without regulations, Pembina's analysis shows that the targets in the
regulations may be no better than business-as-usual before 2015 at the
earliest, and for light trucks, possibly not before the end date of the
regulations. This first conclusion is provisional, because of a lack of transparency
in how the government has calculated its numbers. But even if the targets in
the regulations were more ambitious, the draft regulations still allow automakers
to claim volumes of "early action credits" that appear to be more than
sufficient to allow full compliance with the car standards up to and including
2015 - without needing to make any improvements to fuel economy.

"We believe that our
analysis is the most accurate possible based on currently available information,"
Bramley said. "But it remains uncertain because of the complexity of the
regulations and serious inadequacies in the government's calculations. We
believe Minister Prentice must provide a fully transparent evaluation of the
regulations before they are finalized this fall."

Minister Prentice has said
the proposed regulations will be harmonized with those being implemented in the
U.S. However, Pembina's analysis shows that harmonized Canada-U.S. standards
would allow the Canadian personal vehicle fleet to lose its traditional
efficiency advantage over the U.S., by requiring a 19.5 per cent efficiency
improvement for the average Canadian vehicle from 2011-16, compared to a 23.1
per cent improvement in the U.S. Pembina's analysis also highlights areas where
the draft Canadian regulations are, in fact, weaker - notably, by providing a greater
volume of early action credits per vehicle.

Pembina notes that Canada
could meet more stringent greenhouse gas standards than the U.S. without
automakers needing to produce Canada-specific models - because the standards do
not apply to individual vehicles, but rather to a firm's fleet average tailpipe
emissions. Pembina suggests that the government address the problems highlighted
in its analysis by adopting much simpler regulations that set a single
corporate average emissions standard for cars and light trucks combined. The
Institute believes this standard should be set at a level that reflects and
maintains Canada's traditional vehicle efficiency advantage over the U.S.,
declines over time more quickly than business-as-usual trends, and does not
allow early action credits.


Download the analysis at




The Pembina Institute is a non-partisan sustainable energy think tank.

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