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February 2009
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Protecting Tomorrow: Pollution Probe is a Leader in the war on Climate Change

Ever heard of Pollution Probe?
It is a non-profit environmental group which is presently focusing on clean air and water, climate change, energy conservation, mercury mitigation, children’s health and transportation. Through policy change, research and public education the goal is to achieve positive and tangible environmental change.

What do they do?

Remember the ecoAuto program? I wrote about it back in September. It was a program developed by the Federal Government to influence more people to purchase more fuel efficient cars. Pollution Probe had a hand in that and continues to advocate it; although the program has ended now with no new program in sight.

Policy Direction

Bob Oliver, the Executive Director of Pollution Probe came into my policy class yesterday to give a presentation. His presentation focused on automobiles and fuel efficiency.

Did you know we are still operating on the same fuel efficiency standards today that were implemented in the 1970’s?

That doesn’t mean that the innovation has stopped. Instead we know have cars that have the same fuel efficiency of the 70s that are more powerful, faster and larger; there weren’t too many SUV’s on the road back then. Now that society has become accustomed to this more powerful, faster, bigger car we have to work with consumer demands and develop technology that can make these cars more fuel efficient. According to Oliver the technology is in place it is just a matter of implementing it.

Size vs Fuel Efficiency

There are two schools of thought for comparing the fuel efficiency of vehicles, either by weight or by size. Either way you tend to see the following trend, as size or weight increase there is a decrease in the fuel efficiency.
Oliver said he liked the size comparison better. Instead of penalizing or rewarding heavier or light cars this looked the wheel base. Size is a measurement of the area of the wheel base; from centreline to centreline longitudinally and horizontally. The problem with weight he said is that that big and small cars get grouped into the same buckets. Since the line on the graph is the trend, a lighter SUV could be shifted towards the smaller, fuel efficient cars. Because it is the outlier, one light SUV compared to many small, ‘normal’ weight cars the SUV weight is virtually excluded; it is the outlier. Instead with size the fuel inefficiency of size is recognized.

Improving Fuel Efficiency

Oliver said we need new standards for fuel efficiency. That doesn’t mean that all the cars, light trucks, SUVs, etc should have to achieve the same standard. Instead go back to the graph, make the overall trend for all cars to be more fuel efficient. Oliver stated again that there was a grocery list of technology that could be used on modern cars that could make them more fuel efficient.

It looks like Pollution Probe can help lead the way in the climate war. Together with other NGO’s and government agencies we can help to preserve our environment for future generations.