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Survey: Canadians Support Higher Fuel Economy Standards as Top Measure to Counter Global Warming

Globe and Mail. A Strategic Counsel survey for Canada’s The Globe and Mail and CTV found that higher fuel-economy standards and forcing consumers and industry to switch to alternative fuels rank No. 1 (86%) and No. 2 (80%) in terms of what Canadians are most likely to support to counter global warming.

Only 31% voiced support for charging significantly higher prices for gasoline and home heating fuel, but 72% were willing to pay more for a fuel-efficient car.

The survey, which polled 1,000 Canadians, also found that 62% of those polled said Canadians would be willing to have the economy grow at a “significantly slower rate” to reduce global warming.

The dramatic rise in production from Alberta’s oil sands has played a key role in Canada’s economic strength in recent years, but the survey suggests a willingness to give up some of that growth.

When asked if Canadians would support slowing or reducing the development of the tar sands in Northern Alberta, 48 per cent said there would be support and 32 per cent predicted opposition to the idea.

The survey was taken between Jan. 11 and 14 and is accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Survey: Which of these measures would you support to reduce carbon emissions?
Raising fuel standards for vehicles and appliances 86%
Consumers and industry switching to alternative fuels 80%
Banning coal fueled electrical generating facilities 62%
Setting limits on fossil fuel consumption 56%
Reducing development of Alberta’s oil sands 48%
Higher prices for gasoline and home heating fuel 31%

(A hat-tip to Bob!)




These polls are so stupid. The results are meaningless because people don't know and are not told of the consequences. Take this one for example:

"Banning coal fueled electrical generating facilities 62%"

This is reference to the coal plants in Ontario that the current Liberal government is trying to shut down. Turns out there are no replacement sources available. We are now planing to build nukes to replace them, but then people are against the nukes as well.

So say we do this, shut down coal plants TODAY. What are the consequences? Clearly all manufacturing plants are affected big time. At worst they simply don't have sufficient electricity supply and at best they have to pay 2x and 3x more money to find alternative power suppliers. At this time GM and Ford are already closing plants. Imagine what happens when this electricity problems shows up. The remaining manufacturing packs up and leaves Ontario for China and other cheaper places.

So the consequence of taking this action is yet more lost jobs. Now the question becomes:

"Banning coal fueled electrical generating facilities and risking your job loss"

Of course, reduced electricity supply also means less electricity for consumers. Forget AC in summers. Forget AC in shopping malls and restaurants. etc. Another consequence is power restrictions for consumers. Now we have:

"Banning coal fueled electrical generating facilities and risking your job loss and having electrictiy supply restrictions (brownouts and blackouts)"

Now I ask do we still have 62% approval rate??? Take a wild guess ;)

Same goes for all other questions. Certain person may accept personally higher prices, but will they also accept concordant inflation?



From everything that has been going on so far id say most countries are going to fail to keep the lights on past 2040 or so. Some will likely anage to blow whatever cance they had to do so and others never had a chance in the first place.

Mark A

Even though I am not Canadian, count my vote in support higher fuel economy standards. Actually, I wonder why that number is 86%, and not 100%. Who woudn't want that?

The other measures all hit consumers in the pocketbook. But like someone said, a meaningless survey.....


I'm surprised it's as high as it is. Maybe most people don't realize that would mean sacraficing horse power, or else a more expensive vehicle. Either way, us Canadians seem to love our huge trucks(not a lot different from Americans, although i think we prefer our trucks, over your SUV's, just speculation though) and I don't think the majority of Canadian truck owners would be willing to adopt a smaller engine.

tom deplume

The reason some people oppose higher fuel economy standards is that they bought into the corporate propaganda about it being impossible for auto companies to make a profit on small cars.

Harvey D.


There are alternatives to dirty coal fueled electric generating plants to supply Ontario with clean electricity:

1) Apply a conservation program to reduce consumption by 10%.

2) Import (10 000+ MW) hydro electricity from Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador.

3) Install Wind power (10 000+ MW)

4) If required, build more up to date nuclear (10 000 MW)

This would replace all current and future coal fueled plants in Ontario and eliminate a major source of GHG and other air pollutants in Canada.


Yea, right.

In 2006 Canada produced 143 million tons of oil (#8 world producer, 3.6% of world total), 187 billion m^3 of natural gas (#3, 6.5% world total), and about 100 million tons of coal.

Canada exported 87 millions tons of oil (#9 world exporter, and by far the biggest supplier of oil to US), 106 billion m^3 of NG (#2 in the world and 90% of US NG import), and 28 million tons of hard coal of best metallurgical quality (#8 in the world).

Not to mention more than 30% of world production of uranium, and huge export quantities of virtually all metals, most ores and minerals, cement, fertilizers, and agricultural products. All of it requires energy, and Canada is #7 world nuclear electricity generator (3.3% of world total), #2 hydro electricity (12% of world total), and generally #7 electricity producer (3.4% world total), and #4 electricity exporter in the world, all to US, naturally.

All of it having about 0.5% of world population.

It would be nice to see what will happen with world economy if Canada will really decide to go Kyoto.


Under Kyoto wouldn't we still be able to produce nuclear/hydro electricity, since therre are no CO2 gasses emited(minus mining the uranium, they'd just have to buy carbon credits) we'd just have to bump up the amount of nuclear and hydro electricity we produce, and we'd still be able to function close to normal.



That is splendid. Let's do it. Where is stopping us?

I've been reading about wind power projects here. Those same people who claim they want green power are the ones who complain about wind turbines ruining their previous vistas and figthing wind power projects?!?!

How about conservation? You tell me who is taking conservation seriously in Ontario, especially during summer heat waves? Even during the big blackout crises most people in big cities were ignoring conservation pleas from authorities (because it was taking some time to restart nuclear plants). And so on.

People are hypocrites. We say one thing and do exactly the opposite.


People will always agree to a solution that makes the problem someone else's. This is a culture that tries to get other people to take responsibility for our own decisions. Thats why North Americans like "higher fuel efficiencies" to be mandatory. Now the problem belongs to the manufacturers. You can mandate all you want, if the consumer continues to buy big vehicles with big engines then the problem will never be fixed. Time to raise the price of gas and make people live with their own decisions. Europeans and Japanese don't buy smaller cars because they are smarter or somehow better people, they buy them because gas is expensive and parking hard to find. Let's make the gas cost what it really costs (how about a war tax on gas in the states and a carbon tax in Canada).


Brad, Harvey:

Well, you are right. The only small snag remains: try to convince environmental extremists to allow construction of new nukes and dams. Good luck.

Harvey D.


Conservation DOES NOT mean going without the confort level we are used to. It can be achieved with a lot less energy.:

1) Replace all old SEER 9 to 10 A/C and Heat pumps with recent SEER 23 units to reduce energy consumption used by HVAC by 50+ %.
2) Replace all incadescent light bulbs with more efficient florescents.
4) Replace all electro-mechanical thermostats with high precision programmable one. Decrease temp. while away from home and during night hours.
5) Buy only best energy star appliances, TVs, Computers etc.
6) Check doors, windows and house insulation and improve where required.


Quebec (after 10+ years of negotiation) has signed a peace treaty with native people to allow construction of future dams. It cost a few hundred millions $$ + more involvment but it works.



Glad to hear about dams in Quebec. On mountain rivers it could work big way without negative environmental and social impacts. Here in BC we have troubles to cell our hydro electricity surplus to, say, Alberta, due to lack of power lines.

Coal power plants in Ontario was a mistake, and they should be replaced as soon as alternatives will be available. We do not need additional air pollution. Good alternative would be our CANDU reactors, which by the way have huge export potential. But renewables of course should also have their share, even with higher initial cost. Combine cycle and co-generation with NG also will do.

As far as your and my provinces have near 100% of clean, cheap electricity and inadequate ability to ship it to neighbors, electricity conservation makes sense only from monetary point of view (to lower your utility bill). Retrofit of old inefficient appliances is expensive, and is not generally economical. No one buy new TV or computer to lower their electricity bill. So new energy efficient appliances are introduced when new homes are built or old appliances are breaking up. It is slow process. Government role should be to impose standards on new products on best available technology.

As for me, electricity conservation does not work at all. I do not have AC (do not need one in our climate), my appliances are pretty new and efficient, and electricity bill in summer is minuscule. In winter whatever electricity I save on efficient lighting and alike is exactly compensated by electrical heaters, which have to work harder to keep me warm. My home is insulated pretty well, and no gains could be achieved, save choke ventilation to uncomfortable level. Still my electricity bill is only fraction of what I pay for cable and cells. And again, all electricity I use is renewable hydro. In future I definitely prefer to drive PHEV and have home with geo-exchange heating.


As a Canadian looking to buy a truck, I am unable to find one that's suitable for towing a small boat and relatively fuel efficient, generally that means a small turbo-diesel engine... I'm looking at importing a used vehicle from Japan for the job.


Harvey D.:

The light quality (spectrum) on most CFL's -- even the newest models in stores today -- tends to bother me a great deal. I've put in a few where I can tolerate them, but I find myself having to go for standard or halogen bulbs for many applications. There still are some limits...

Rafael Seidl

Ironically, increased prices for i.e. taxes on transportation and home heating fuels would be the surest way to get people to translate their lofty ambitions into actual purchases of efficient equipment. The extra tax raised could be disbursed via flat income tax credits to everyone or else targeted at subsidies/soft loans for low-income families looking to buy said equipment.

In concrete terms: diesel engines on trucks and SUVs, cylinder deactivation on large-displacement gasoline engines, downsizing + turbocharger or Comprex + GDI + VVT on mid-sized passenger cars, idle stop with combustion-assisted warm start etc.

Plus, heat pumps or district heating where possible.



Some local Vancouver info, last I heard the Burrard NG plant was running pretty much all of the time now. We have become net importers of electricity and they are planning three new coal plants (not CGCC with capture)as well as some new renewable (run of the river) sources. Have you heard anything different?

P.S. the thought that Ontario will be shutting down it's coal fired plants any time soon is sadly laughable. Harris made such a mess out of that province I moved back to B.C. (where Campbell will privatize hydro if he gets the slimy chance).

Harvey D.


We are in a very different position (no Rockies) with easy access to Ontario + New England States power grids to sell our clean electrcity surpluses.

Due to the 10 years used to negotiate the treaty with the native people + the slow start of the 4000 MW wind power installations + time required to upgrade the cross connections with Ontario, our export have been reduced and will not return to previous high levels before 2009. Exports should average 5 000+ MW by 2011 or equivalent to the conservation program current in place.


Correction - two new coal fired plants in B.C. ... not three.


NKB: I had the same reaction as you did when I first brought home some CFLs (my bulb shape paradigm threw me off as well). I have found with time that I have gotten so used to the CFLs that they have worked their way into every room of the house. The only place I now use the incandescents is in places where I view Computer screens or TVs with flicker.

Harvey D.

NBK & Neil:

The new miniature twisted CFL (9-11-13-15-18-23-27 watts) + the R-20 and R-30 'dimable' and 'regular' replacements are available in warmer light as oppose to previous Day Light and Cool White tubes.

It is very difficult to tell the difference with incadescent bulbs, specially under a lamp shade.

We get a 50% refund (up to $50) on the first 20 CFL purchased from the Q-Hydro energy conservation program and a similar refund (up to $90) on the first 5 electronic thermostats. This same program refunds $100 on front loading washing machines, selected energy star friges and much more on ultra-high SEER heat pumps.

Mark R. W. Jr.

I honestly don't understand why people (Canadian, American, or otherwise) oppose or just aren't interested in higher fuel economy standards.

Every SUV and passenger car out there should be getting 40+ mpg rather than just a few models.



From official BC Hydro web site:

"BC Hydro generates 43,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually.” Thermal generation consists of “the 46 MW Prince Rupert” and “the 47 MW Fort Nelson” NG powered plants, which are peanuts.

“The Burrard Generating Station is a 950 MW conventional natural gas-fired generating station. It plays an important role to provide back-up for the hydroelectric system during low water years, and also to provide transmission support and electrical supply security for the Lower Mainland. As the energy available from our dams becomes fully committed due to increased demand, Burrard will be required to operate at greater capacity until new generating facilities are added to the system. As a system resource it also supports electricity trade from the BC Hydro integrated system.”

Most time I drive along Burrard inlet, they have only one (or none) boiler operational from four installed.

As for BC Hydro privatization, my opinion is: “if it is not broken, do not fix it”.

Closure of coal fired power stations in Ontario is a matter of decade or two, I agree. But it is not nuclear station, and could be closed or converted to NG way faster.

Never heard about plans for coal plants in BC. What is your source?


Andrey: I first heard about the Tumbler Ridge project on the CBC morning news almost a year ago. I remember reading an article in the Sun that mentioned both projects. A quick search of the web brought me to the sierra club site and this hand out.


The biggest logjams in fuel efficentcy right now are...

1 the road conditions. Where we used to live near highway 101 in california ou either had a powerful,engine or you prayed REALY fast every time you got on the freeeway. And MANY people with weak engines wound up dead or maimed as a result. A freeway I had walked across as a boy had become a nightmare even professional drivers were afraid to make a left turn on.

When you are faced with a floor it or die world you buy a bigger more powerful car. Nothing sells a 350 hp tankmobile then an 18 wheeler doing 90 comming over athe hill behind you as your doing 20 uphill trying to merge with a guy riding your ass in the merge lane. And thousands of glittering bits of cars that failed to make it... everywhere.

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