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Canada’s Cars Are World’s Worst Gas Guzzlers, but BC May Be Tipping Point

Canada’s Cars Are World’s Worst Gas Guzzlers, but BC May Be Tipping Point

Surge in electric vehicle sales a silver lining to high pump prices.

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Without BC’s carbon tax on fuel, UBC researchers figured, demand per capita would be seven per cent higher and the average vehicle’s fuel efficiency would be four per cent lower. Photo via Shutterstock.

[Editor’s note: Accelerating gasoline prices in B.C. have triggered an investigationby the B.C. Utilities Commission and are helping to fuel a boom in electric vehicle sales in the province. Refining more crude locally might eventually cause gasoline prices to drop but that would take years and a major investment, says one analyst. “I can’t see anybody wanting to invest at least a billion [dollars] for a new refinery in British Columbia because you’ve got electric vehicles coming over the hill. They’re in the market, they’re available, and they are a viable alternative to gasoline powered cars.” 

Is that a tipping point we hear? The Tyee’s Geoff Dembicki predicted in December that might happen. Earlier this month, University of Calgary professor Blake Shaffer revealed Canadian cars are the world’s top gas guzzlers, but B.C.’s carbon tax along with provincial and federal electric-car-friendly policies are mapping the road to redemption. Given trends at the pump and in the atmosphere, Shaffer’s findings are more relevant daily.]

Usually when Canada is at the top of an international ranking, it’s cause for celebration. Not this time.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency shows that Canada’s vehicles have the highest average fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre driven. They are also the largest and the second heaviest in the world.

In short: Canadian vehicles are bigheavy and guzzle a lot of gasoline. For a country that is championing its climate action, how do we square these facts?

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