Falling in line

Published: Monday 28 February 2005

us automobile manufacturers are facing rough weather following Canada's move to adopt stringent auto emission rules that have been adopted by California (see Down To Earth, 'World's First', October 31, 2004, p 16). The move might force them to make more fuel-efficient vehicles that emit much lesser quantity of greenhouse gases. It will also be a blow to them because they have challenged California's emission rules in the court (see Down To Earth, 'Pollution lawsuit', January 15, 2005, p 12).

Canadian environment minister Stephane Dion, along with the country's transportation minister, visited California on January 17, 2005, in this regard. "I think industry sees that we are serious. Our trip is a way to show we are resolute," Dion said.

Seven other US states have also expressed their desire to adopt California's rules. According to an estimate, Canada and the eight states constitute nearly 30 per cent of the North American passenger vehicle market. Environmentalists hope that if Canada adopts the tougher norms, its market will put considerable pressure on the auto industry. "If Canada joins the eight US states, it gets us very close to a tipping point where the manufacturers realise they are going to have to make cleaner cars for the North American market," says Bill Magavern, a lobbyist for the non-profit organisation Sierra Club, Sacramento.

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