Auto industry agrees to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Canada

After years of halting negotiations, the auto industry has reached a deal with the Canadian government to voluntarily reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by some 5.8 million tons by 2010. Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion had previously threatened to impose strict fuel-economy standards if the automakers didn’t agree to voluntary cuts. According to government sources, the automakers insisted the deal be made in terms of total emission reductions rather than fuel economy (though the end result will be the same); they feared that explicitly agreeing to fuel-economy standards would imperil their pending lawsuit against California, which recently imposed strict standards. Enviros expressed the only sort of optimism of which they are capable — that is, guarded — saying that the need to make fuel-efficient vehicles for Europe, California, and now Canada might finally push automakers to just make their entire fleets more efficient. While government officials touted the happy, shiny, voluntary compromisiness of it all, the Sierra Club’s Dan Becker was more blunt: “The Canadian government has managed to bludgeon the auto industry into submission.”