Congratulations to Toronto mayor David Miller for his smart decision to test the viability of plug-in hybrid cars. Exhaust from motor vehicles is Toronto’s, and just about every other city’s, primary source of air pollution and smog.
As I have argued in another article in this blog, plug-in hybrids are the most promising technological route to dramatic reductions in emissions from vehicles.
And, as I have also pointed out, plug-ins in provinces like British Columbia, Newfoundland-Labrador, Manitoba, and especially Quebec, will be extremely clean. Grid electricity in these provinces already comes with uncommonly low emissions per kilowatt-hour.
In Ontario, where the emission intensity of electricity generation is around 200 grams per kilowatt hour, cars powered with grid electricity would still be far more environment friendly than cars powered with straight gasoline or diesel.
But shifting from petroleum to electricity as the primary motive fuel in motor vehicles will require a significant expansion in generating capacity.
Governments at all levels, all across the country, need to collaborate in bringing this about. The feds need to support private investment in low- or non-emitting generating capacity. Provinces need to loosen rules that prevent this and develop new rules that encourage it. And cities have to start transforming their vehicle fleets.
On this last note, it’s great to see the mayor of Canada’s biggest city taking the first right steps to deal with auto emissions.