Transportation a major factor in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions

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Big trucks and sport-utility vehicles are exacting a price on Canada’s environment, says a new federal government report that blames transportation for generating more than a quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2004. The report, which comes on the heels of the federal government’s proposed clean-air act, says emissions of some smog-forming pollutants have been on the decline, but it contends highly polluting transportation trends have slowed or inhibited the decrease and contributed to poor air quality in and around urban areas.

“More than one-half of all nitrogen oxides, a quarter of volatile organic compounds and upwards of 17 percent of fine particulate matter came from transportation activities in 2004,” said the report, released Thursday, Nov. 9. “The nation’s transportation activities are emitting less and less of these smog-forming pollutants as time goes on, thanks in large part to catalytic converters and cleaner-burning fuels. But these emissions continue to be a concern because of their potential impact on human health and the environment.”

The minority Conservative government tabled sweeping legislation in the House of Commons on Oct. 19, saying it would develop new regulations for vehicle fuel consumption by 2011, harmonize vehicle emissions standards with those of the United States over the next year and, by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 45 and 65 percent from 2003 levels. It also promised to set national targets for smog and ozone levels by 2025 and discuss and set “intensity-based” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next three years.