Now how about some incentives to get people out of cars?
That's former astronaut Marc Garneau, now Canada's Minister of Transport, with Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna pretending to fill up an electric car, as if you stand beside an electric car for an hour, like when you are pumping gas. But hey, it's a press release announcing a the start of a new incentive program for zero emission vehicles. The Feds say, "We know that the higher cost of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) can make it more difficult to adopt this clean technology. The iZEV program and new tax write-offs for businesses will help make it more affordable."
McKenna at least is smiling and doesn't look like she is at a hostage taking like all of the Ontario MPPs did when they were forced to fill their SUVs before the federal carbon tax came into force last month. Here's Garneau explaining:
Climate change is real. That is why our government is taking action. Today, #Budget2019 is providing critical funding to help Canadians on the road reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as the #ZEV rebate officially comes into effect https://t.co/8AGW1SDcCf pic.twitter.com/ABHqitchtA— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) May 1, 2019
But many (including me) are disappointed with the continuing obsession with cars, which still have huge upfront carbon emissions from their manufacture, and which still run on concrete highways that governments keep expanding to handle all those new cars.
Canada's offering rebates, eh? How about these "electric zero-emissions vehicles": They carry just about anything. They easily cover the distances Canadians typically travel in a day. They prevent cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart disease.. https://t.co/LN4smM1o7T @CurbsideCycle pic.twitter.com/mQmgV8JrVK— Anders Swanson (@SwansonAnders) May 2, 2019
There's no tax credit or subsidy for bikes, e-bikes or cargo bikes, where even just giving a sales tax holiday would make a big difference.
I'll add a few more:— Anders Swanson (@SwansonAnders) May 2, 2019
They weigh far less than the car they replace for most trips cars take.
Because of that, they also pose almost no risk to the people around you.
Because of that they take a fraction of the energy to power.
They are way easier to park.
Kids LOVE them.
And what about transit? In 2017 this same Liberal government took away a 15 percent tax credit on transit passes. So now they are essentially taking tax money from transit users and giving it to electric car buyers.
40% of car journeys in England are under 2 miles. 68% are under 5 miles. These are walkable, cycle-able trips that can be integrated w public transport with the right infrastructure. Business as usual car culture is unimaginative and economically illiterate— Rosalind Readhead (@Privatecarfree) May 2, 2019
They are having the same discussion in the UK, where the government recently declared a "climate emergency" but is taking the same windshield view, that It's All About Cars. Sure, that's how most Canadians get around, but it wouldn't cost very much to do something for the people who use transit, walk or bike, instead of always throwing money at cars.
At some point, the Ministers of the Environment and Transport have to admit that if we are really serious about dealing with carbon emissions, we have to encourage alternatives to cars. Despite recent articles saying otherwise, there is no question that overall, electric cars have far lower carbon footprints than gasoline powered cars, particularly in most of Canada where the electricity supply is pretty low carbon.
But enough with the windshield bias, there are other ways to get around. We have noted before that the upfront carbon emissions from making big things like cars are an overlooked issue, but it's time to take them seriously and promote modes of transport with the lowest emissions of any kind.