Canada Moves Towards Cleaner Motor Transport

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, April 5, 2002 (ENS) - Canada is imposing strict new emissions standards for on-road vehicles and engines that will come into effect for the 2004 model year.

Announced in Toronto Thursday by Environment Minister David Anderson, the new rules are intended to progressively cut annual emissions of pollutants that form smog.

The proposed On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations call for cleaner vehicles to be available in Canada starting September 1, 2003.

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Highway traffic in Ontario (Photo courtesy Transport Canada)
"Vehicles are a major source of the air pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog," said Anderson. "This measure to bring cleaner vehicles to our streets and roads will help clear the air and reduce the impacts of pollution on our natural environment and our health."

The proposed regulations set out technical standards for vehicles and engines respecting exhaust, evaporative and crankcase emissions, on-board diagnostics systems and other specifications related to emission control systems.

To support the integrated North American vehicle manufacturing market, the technical standards corresponding to the U.S. EPA standards are incorporated by reference from the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations to ensure that the standards are identical in both countries.

By 2020 the new regulations will cut nitrogen oxides by 74 percent, particulate matter by 64 percent, carbon monoxide by 23 percent and volatile organic compounds by 14 percent, Anderson said.

The measure will result in decreased emissions of several pollutants, including benzene and acrolein, which have been declared "toxic" under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999.

The environment minister is taking into account the effect of global warming on air pollution in framing these regulations.

"The warmer weather brought about by climate change will contribute to increased air pollution and the number of "bad air" days in Canada," said Anderson. "Industry and government have come a long way in reducing smog causing pollutants from vehicles. Now is the time for industry to go that extra step and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles."

Transport Canada recognizes the effect of vehicles on greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, accounting for 25 percent of the total.

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Incomplete combustion of fuel produces pollutant laden emissions. (Photo courtesy Freefoto.com)
If current trends continue, the agency says, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are expected to exceed 1990 levels by 32 percent in 2010 and 53 per cent by 2020.

Phase in schedules for the new regulations vary by vehicle class. Updated standards for light duty vehicles, light duty trucks, motorcycles and medium duty passenger vehicles will be phased in from 2004 to 2009. A two phase approach for the new low emission standards for heavy duty engines introduces phase one from 2004 to 2006, and phase two from 2007 to 2010.

In February 2001, the government of Canada announced a Clean Air Agenda supported by a C$120 million investment in new measures to accelerate action on clean air.

The Canadian government has already introduced cleaner fuels initiatives including the proposed low sulphur diesel regulations and the existing low sulphur gasoline regulations, as well as the regulations governing benzene in gasoline.

The government has announced a C$16 million motor vehicle fuel efficiency initiative to improve new vehicle fuel efficiency through negotiation of a voluntary agreement with the automotive industry and the United States.

There has been an investment of C$23 million in the Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance to investigate different fueling options for fuel cell vehicles, and a further C$20 million for the National Research Council's fuel cell research and development at its Innovation Center in Vancouver.

The federal action plan also includes the development of regulations to reduce emissions from off-road gasoline engines including snowblowers, portable generators, lawnmowers and chainsaws and from diesel engines used in off-road vehicles including construction and agricultural equipment.

Proposed regulations for these previously unregulated engines are planned for the autumn of 2002.

In another move towards cleaner transportation, Canada is supporting new research to help turn plant fiber into an environmentally friendly fuel for vehicles. A C$2.7 million investment announced today will focus on the enzymes that break down the fiber and seek to make the process 10 times faster.

Environment Minister Anderson joined Minister of Natural Resources Canada Herb Dhaliwal, and Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief today in Ottawa to announce the financial support for Ottawa based Iogen Corporation, an enzyme developer in the bioethanol field.

The funding will go towards improving the efficiency of enzymes over the next three years. The company will match the government of Canada funding, bringing the total to C$5.4 million.

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Bioethanol research in the Iogen laboratory (Photo courtesy Natural Resources Canada)
"Using and producing bioethanol and bioethanol blended fuels is an effective way for Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and create a new homegrown source of energy," said Dhaliwal. "By increasing the efficiency of bioethanol production, we can offer a renewable fuel at competitive cost to the Canadian consumer."

Unlike conventional fuel ethanol, a high octane alcohol produced from grains such as corn and wheat, bioethanol is made from the fermentation of sugars derived from the plant fiber in substances such as wood and agricultural residues. Enzymes make the process possible.

Compared to gasoline, ethanol made from plant fiber releases 70 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions the major greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Ethanol blended gasoline is currently offered at many retail gas pumps.

Iogen Corporation, an established commercial developer and manufacturer of industrial enzymes, sells enzyme products to the pulp and paper, textiles and animal feed industries. The company has built a $35 million bioethanol demonstration plant in Ottawa, the first of its kind in the world to integrate cellulase enzyme research and development into the industrial process required to manufacture bioethanol fuel.