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Statistical Tidbit – Give Up Your Car. Who’s First?

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2019

Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant, former public servant and diplomat. His full bio is here. 


In 2017, there were 22.7 million light duty vehicles (cars, SUVs and pickup trucks) registered in Canada. They represented 12 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in that year.


The current federal government target is to reduce GHG emissions by about 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. In practice, that means a reduction from 716 megatonnes (Mt) of emissions in 2017 to 512 Mt in 2030, or 28.5%. The Green Party and a number of municipalities have called for a reduction of 45% from 2015 levels by 2030, of about 43.5 %.


Presenting these goals in terms of percentages of emissions means little to the average citizen. What if we used some simple assumptions and some simple mathematics to illustrate what it would mean in one sector of the economy if the government chose to seek comparable percentage emissions reductions in all economic sectors?


Let’s ignore for the sake the argument the fact that Canadians buy about two million new light duty vehicles each year, and junk a similar but slightly smaller number of older vehicles, and just treat the number of vehicles as constant.


Reducing light duty vehicles by 28.5% means a reduction of 6,470,000 vehicles, or almost 500,000 vehicles a year from the roads from 2017 to 2030. Reducing light duty vehicles by 43.5% means a reduction of 9,875,000 vehicles, or 760,000 vehicles per year from the roads from 2017 to 2030.


So, the next time someone says that Canada can make these reductions without a problem, ask them how we would remove that many vehicles per year from the roads, and whether they will be the first to volunteer to give up their car.



The 85 Million Tonne Obsession

cover 85 million tonne obsession

You Can’t Get There from Here 


  1. Ron Hartlen

    Related questions. What is the last date on which it would be OK/prudent to acquire a new gas-fuelled vehicle? Who will be the Canadian who buys the last litre of gasoline, at what gas station will it be sold, and what will it cost? When we are all on EVs, where will the electricity be generated and how delivered?
    When there are no longer any gas stations, how will cross-border commerce and tourism function?

    • Andrew J Roman

      You may want to consider a related question. If you have to stop driving a gasoline powered car by a certain time and no one will be allowed to drive anything but an EV, what will your car’s trade in value be?

  2. Clive Edwards

    Turdo is coming to confiscate your personal vehicles…right after he confiscates your personal firearms.

  3. rogerthesurf

    In my country, the government is touting electric cars.

    I guess they think this will help lower the CO2 content n the atmosphere.

    But of course the government doesn’t believe that because approx. 30% of the electricity generation in New Zealand is from a single large coal burning facility.

    I does not take much brain power to figure that any extra demand on the grid is most certainly going to be supplied by the above mentioned thermal generation plant.

    Therefore the most accurate description of electric cars around here is beginning to be “Coal Powered” cars.

    So very appropriate and so much for the government trying to delude the gullible public.



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