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I was listening to a piece on CBC the other night, talking partially about Schwarzenegger’s trip to Ontario. They started talking about emissions standards and how Ontario was considering increasing them. California’s standards were discussed and they brought on an auto industry lobbyist.
The lobbyist talked about how California’s standards were destroying the US auto industry and then said (paraphrasing): “… let the industry set these standards itself, that will get the best results.”
Really? Considering North American governments have basically done nothing to setup tough emissions standards, we’ve seen the results of the industry setting the standards itself. A big, fat, nothing. But, we should trust them to now, right?
The industry’s behaviour really puzzles me because there’s no way they can win at this game, and they’re making it worse. Toyota builds the most efficient fleet of vehicles and dumps tons of money into R&D, which is why their vehicles are superior to the “big 3.” What do Ford and GM think they’re gaining by lobbying to allow themselves to stay 10-20 years behind current technology? They are scared that when their vehicles prices increase slightly from new R&D even more people will leave their brands.
There are cases where I think our governments overreach in what they do, but settings emissions standards is not one of them. Individuals, by ourselves, are often short-sighted, which is one of the reasons we have governments. If a money-conscious person is choosing between 2 cars with say a $2,000 difference between them, they might choose the cheaper one even though it’s much less fuel efficient, based solely on sticker shock.
But, first of all, if they were to think ahead they’d probably save a lot of that on fuel costs. Secondly, how much will their taxes increase in the future to pay for the damage and clean-up of an environment ravaged by climate change? Lastly, there’s a bit of game theory involved. If no one else bothers to buy an efficient vehicle, the damage will still be the same, therefore should I bother buying one?
That’s exactly why we need the extra guidance of emissions standards.