Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leading By Example

You can offer all the excuses you like, but that doesn't distract from a simple fact- if you want others to follow, you have to lead by example. The government is sending a clear message to Canadians, we are not serious about reducing greenhouse gases:
Led by the new gas-guzzling black SUVs in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motorcade, the federal government nearly doubled the amount it spent on sport-utility vehicles during the first full year of the Conservative government.

Documents show that government spending on SUVs purchased through Public Works and Government Services Canada reached more than $31 million in 2006-07.

Even as the government offers rebates to encourage Canadians to drive more fuel-efficient cars, Public Works ordered 844 new sport-utilities last year, a large leap from the 500 purchased the year before and the 366 in 2004-05, the last full fiscal year under a Liberal government.

Public works spokesperson Lucie Brosseau attempts to put lipstick on the pig:
She said more than one-third of the SUVs purchased had gas-electric hybrid engines, which cost more, but offer improved fuel efficiency over conventional SUVs. The department now purchases only "greener" passenger vehicles and mini-vans, except for law enforcement or security uses, Ms. Brosseau said.

One-third? Why not every vehicle, was there a study that showed hybrid's don't perform well during border patrols? In reality, there is no logical reason to explain why the government has not only failed to go "green', but has more than doubled its fleet of gas guzzlers. Seems to me, if you are "modernizing" the fleet, you should use the latest technology. In other words, a perfect opportunity to purchase more fuel-efficent vehicles and send a clear message to Canadians.

In the grand scheme, a few government vehicles are a miniscule part of the equation. However, in terms of symbolism and messaging, the government's apparent lack of commitment contradicts much of the rhetoric (how surprising). Flaherty tells us to buy fuel efficient cars, offers rebates, while the government simultaneously moves in the other direction, puking out carbon at an unprecedented rate. And, these people wonder why nobody buys their commitment to dealing with climate change.


northwestern_lad said...

Steve... when I first saw this article, I thought to myself that 1/3 was a very paltry number. But then I started to think about what kinds of SUV's a lot of these groups buy and what possible alternatives there might be. For example, the RCMP uses big GMC Suburbans for patrol vehicles in remote communities that are quite powerful pieces of equipment. They need that to be able to haul and tow, and also go over rough terrain. So what other green options are there to the Suburban that would meet the same requirements? I personally can't think of one. Sure, there are Hybrid SUV's, but they have tended to be smaller, lighter duty SUV's that wouldn't meet those requirements.

Could they do better than 1/3, of course. But a bigger problem is that there are not the alternatives to turn to. We don't have GM, Ford or anyone else for that matter producing these larger vehicles which some do need in a hybrid. The Feds and the provinces should be pushing for the automakers to produce these kinds of vehicles.

So I agree, this government should be showing leadership on this, but simply buying fewer larger heavy duty vehicles isn't going to solve this problem alone. We need this government to show leadership in pushing the automakers to make green alternatives in all kinds of vehicles. But that's just my two cents worth.

Steve V said...


Is the PM going over "rough terrain" on his way to Parliament Hill?

Anonymous said...

Why do they all need SUV's? What's with Harper and the number 31? 31 million for polling and 31 million for vehicles....

Trying to copy G Dubya?

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... Not all places in Canada are as nicely grommed as Parliament Hill (i.e. Northern and Rural Canada where the RCMP also works). Like I said, they can do better than 1/3rd, but for some situations, alternatives aren't in place for those places that need the heavier duty vehicles. This government is not only not showing leadership by buying these vehicles (some of which they need) but by also not pushing the major automakers to make hybrids or other alternatives for those heavy duty vehicles. If anyone has the buying power to push a company to make such a vehicle surely it would be the government, right?

Steve V said...


I understand what you are saying, I'm just pointing to any easy symbolic gesture that speaks to commitment.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... I understand the point you're trying to make. I was just trying to bolster it.

I agree that if these Conservatives were truly interested in climate change, they'd be going about things in a different way. But like I pointed out over on my blog last week, I really think that Harper is just giving up on this charade that he cares and has just said "shag it".

burlivespipe said...

It's been long evident that the only real climate change this gang of oil-bloods cares about is the one measured by Ipsos-Reid every few weeks.

Oldschool said...

I guess the Dion led liberals all ride around in the lowly Prius!!!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that since CAFE was implemented, more than 46,000 traffic deaths would have been avoided if people had been driving heavier cars. Many tens of thousands more, of course, have been needlessly injured. The NHTSA concluded in an October 2003 report that CAFE standards are even deadlier than the agency previously thought. Every 100-pound reduction in the weight of small cars (those weighing 2,950 pounds or less), for example, increased annual traffic fatalities by as much as 715, according to NHTSA. For larger cars and light trucks, the agency estimated that each 100-pound reduction in weight would increase annual traffic fatalities by as much as 303 and 296, respectively. "When two vehicles collide, the laws of physics favor the occupants of the heavier vehicle (momentum conservation). Furthermore, heavier vehicles were in most cases longer, wider and less fragile than light vehicles. In part because of this, they usually had greater crashworthiness, structural integrity and directional stability. They were less roll-over prone and easier for the average driver to control in a panic situation," explained NHTSA. And just in case you're thinking that air bags will save you or a loved one in a lighter, more fuel efficient car, you may need to reconsider depending on your height. A study presented this week at the 2007 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Annual meeting reported that air bags actually are harmful to short and tall people. Dr. Craig Newgard, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, analyzed crash data for over 65,000 front-seat occupants and found that air bags, while effective for people of medium stature (5-foot-3 to 5-foot-11) were actually harmful to people shorter than 4-foot-11 and taller than 6-foot-3. Despite CAFE's acknowledged risks to life and limb, are these risks outweighed by any potential "energy security" or economic benefits?

Its about comfort and safety!!!

Anyone ever figure out the "Carbon Footprint" of the battery in the Prius??? Its equivalent to driving a Hummer for a year . . . that is before the Prius ever leaves the dealer's lot!!!

As Anthropogenic Globull Warming is just a THEORY . . . and China increases emissions by more than Canada's total every year . . . your concerns are misplaced.

Raphael Alexander said...

I saw electric cars in Europe a decade ago. They are so far ahead of us on this issue it's almost not even funny.

Anonymous said...

This is splitting hairs. Outlawing things like plastic diapers, plastic bottles, plastic anything would be a real start.

Do you have tupperware or tupperware like products in your cupboard? Do you use disposable diapers?

When I was a kid, we got our milk in glass jugs, our pop in glass bottles etc...

There are a thousand places to start, SUV's are just one of them.