Letter: Forget price gouging protection, offer green incentives instead

Dear Editor:

The article ‘MPP Mantha agrees gas price difference in Northern Ontario is “totally unfair”’ (May 8) raises the possibility that companies are price gouging here. If oil companies are gouging us, the government needs to stop them. But Mr. Mantha should be calling for non-polluting price breaks for the North, not for lower gas prices. If you lower the price of a commodity like gasoline, demand will increase and greenhouse gas emissions will increase and we will continue our rush toward a runaway climate crisis. Transportation already accounts for one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

One litre of gasoline produces five pounds of carbon dioxide out the tailpipe. It may be hard to wrap our heads around the idea that carbon dioxide can be measured by weight, but air is not empty space, and neither is carbon dioxide. Fill up a 40 litre tank and you will produce 200 pounds of carbon dioxide driving around. That’s just one tank. Then think about how often you fill up the tank.

When I ask my friends how much gasoline they use, mostly they can’t tell me. They know the price to fill the tank, and whether it is up or down from last week. Most also can’t tell me how many kilometres they can drive per litre of gas, even though it’s easy to find. Natural Resources Canada publishes fuel economy data, updated for every model every year. Compare a few 2020 popular vehicles. Dodge Journey 4-cylinder SUV tailpipe emissions are 58 pounds per 100 kilometres, Ford Edge emissions are 51 pounds, Toyota RAV4 emissions are 41 pounds and the Ford Escape Hybrid (not a plug-in) emissions are just 30 pounds. Plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles are of course even better.

The fact is Canada’s vehicles have the highest average emissions per kilometre driven in the world, according to an International Energy Agency report. Our vehicles are inefficient. They are big, heavy, and they guzzle gasoline.

It’s not because of cold weather and distance. That doesn’t explain why the Swedes, Germans, Finns, Irish and British all drive vehicles that perform better than ours. The biggest reason? The rock bottom cost. The cost of purchasing and operating a gas guzzler is far less in North America than most other countries, even here in Northern Ontario!

Instead of making gas guzzlers cheaper to drive, the government should be putting in policies that make efficient vehicles cheaper, especially here in Northern Ontario. You won’t get anything like that out of Doug Ford, champion of the greenhouse gas industry. He’s even fighting against the federal government’s cash-back carbon pricing, which is the best single policy for reducing our risk of runaway global heating. If you care about the climate crisis, and even if you don’t, ask for help for North Ontario to reduce greenhouse gases. We need it.

Jan McQuay