Canada’s drivers emit the most carbon per kilometre driven in the world, and it’s due to our taste for SUVs and pickup trucks, according to research from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
An IEA study released earlier this spring found that the passenger vehicles on Canada’s roads emit 206 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, higher than the second-place U.S., at 198 grams per kilometre, and about 50 per cent higher than many Western European countries.
Overall fuel efficiency in Canada improved from 2005 to 2013, then stagnated and started moving backwards around 2016, the IEA report stated, and it’s because of the mix of cars on Canada’s roads.
“In 2017, 61 per cent of new sales were SUV/pickup trucks, the highest share in the world and nearly double Canada’s market share in 2005,” the report said.
Watch: Why electric cars are more popular in one Quebec region. Story continues below.
Canadians have also been slow to adapt to hybrid and electric cars, with sales of hybrids 40 per cent below U.S. sales, relative to population, the IEA said. A GoCompare study released earlier this year found Canada is “among the worst-equipped countries” for electric cars, with among the lowest rates of EV charging stations.
The data highlight the challenges Canada faces as it strives to meet its carbon-reduction commitments under the Paris Accord.
The federal Liberals this year introduced a carbon tax in the four provinces that had not set up their own carbon pricing regimes: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
The tax adds 4.4 cents per litre to the cost of gas, rising to 11.1 cents per litre by 2022. Taxpayers in those four provinces are eligible for a carbon tax rebate, which for many households will be as large or larger than the cost of the carbon tax.
The federal Liberals also introduced a new electric vehicle rebate of up to $5,000 on models up to $55,000 in price. Similar rebates in British Columbia, California and elsewhere have been credited with boosting electric car sales.