Canadian Auto Industry Agrees to Limit Greenhouse Gases

WINDSOR, Ontario, Canada, April 6, 2005 (ENS) - Canadian automakers such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz have signed an agreement with the government to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to help Canada meets its commitments under the Kyoto climate protocol. The pact focuses on immediate action to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed Tuesday at Auto 21, an automotive engineering facility at the University of Windsor.

Under the MOU the industry will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles in Canada so that by 2010, annual emissions reductions will reach 5.3 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. All major companies of Canada's automobile industry are part of the agreement.

Canada agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to six percent below 1990 levels by 2012, or by 240 million metric tons, when it agreed to the UN Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in February. Cars account for a quarter of Canada's greenhouse emissions, said Minister of Natural Resources Canada John Efford.


Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Canada John Efford (Photo courtesy Natural Resources Canada)
The MOU was signed by Efford; by Joe Hinrichs, chairman of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association and president and CEO, Ford of Canada; and by Marcus Breitschwerdt, chairman of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and president and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Canada.

"This is a good deal for the economy, the environment and consumers," said Efford. "Ultimately, it's a deal that all Canadians will benefit from as the new technologies needed to reach this target come on the market."

"Canada's automobile industry has a long history of introducing new technologies that make the vehicles we produce more environmentally friendly and safer," said Hinrichs. "As we look to the future, we remain committed to doing our fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while contributing to economic growth."

The voluntary agreement is not legally binding and there are no penalties if companies fail to reach their targets.

"We're very proud that we were able to forge a strong voluntary agreement," said Breitschwerdt. "Our success with the voluntary approach in Canada is well known, and this agreement will be a valuable tool for this industry and government to continue to work toward achieving our common goals."

The automobile industry has a strong track record of achievement with voluntary agreements. Since 1977, it has agreed to and successfully implemented more than a dozen agreements. These range from vehicle-safety advancements such as vehicle side-impact protection and air bags to energy improvements and emissions-reduction issues.


Traffic on a highway in Ontario (Photo courtesy Ministry Municipal Affairs)
Under the MOU, the industry will offer and promote a wide variety of fuel saving vehicle technologies, including hybrid powertrains, cylinder deactivation technology, advanced diesel technology, and emerging technologies. The industry also agreed to work with the government and fuel providers to ensure that appropriate fuels, including alternate fuels, are available.

Some of these initiatives are already underway. Ford delivered the first-ever Canadian fleet of five Focus fuel cell vehicles to customers in British Columbia on March 31.

Five customers, BC Hydro, BC Transit, Ballard Power Systems, the city of Vancouver and the city of Victoria are now using Focus Fuel Cell vehicles. They will be using these Focus Fuel Cell vehicles in everyday conditions, providing reports on performance and fuel usage.

"This real life test will assist Ford in making adjustments to the next generation of fuel cell vehicles, as we move closer to providing that technology to our customers everywhere," Hinrichs said in Vancouver Friday.

"More and more, we see environmental sustainability as one of the fundamentals of economic competitiveness," said Environment Minister Stéphane Dion. "This agreement represents a strong commitment on the part of the auto industry to work with the Government of Canada and all Canadians in the pursuit of economic and environmental prosperity."

The industry agreed to pursue design and engineering improvements without compromising vehicle-occupant safety, while at the same time bringing forward technologies that promote more fuel efficient driving behavior.

"A great many people in my riding of Whitby-Oshawa rely on the auto industry for their livelihoods," said Judi Longfield, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing. "They take great pride in the contribution their industry makes to our economy. Today, they can be equally proud of their contribution to protecting our environment."

The industry agreed to help Canadians understand what they can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and "will support positive consumer and driver behavior with respect to the purchase, maintenance and operation of cars and light-duty trucks across Canada."

"A strong auto industry is a key part of Canada's and Ontario's economy," said Industry Minister David Emerson. "As they continue to grow, this industry and others will continue to develop the new technologies and processes that are needed to provide high-skill, high-paying jobs for Canadians and Ontarians and improve our environment."

The Kyoto Protocol under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change requires 35 industrialized countries, including Canada, to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases during the five year period 2008-2012. Gases such as carbon dioxide produced by the combustion of oil and gasoline form a layer in the atmosphere, trapping the Sun's heat close to the planet.