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B.C., feds want beater owners to scrap them

Program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases

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Are you wondering what to do with your malfunctioning 1989 LeBaron? Are you stuck in traffic spewing gas out the tailpipe of a beat-up Datsun?

Then your provincial and federal governments want to hear from you.

The federal government announced last week that it is contributing $92 million in incentives to a National Vehicle Scrappage Program, which builds upon the B.C. Scrap-It program already operating in the Lower Mainland

Drivers with cars that were manufactured prior to 1996, when new environmental standards were introduced, are being asked to put those vehicles to rest in exchange for various incentives including public transit passes, bicycles, membership in car-sharing programs, or $300 cash.

The program is being initiated in an effort to reduce the level of greenhouse gases being emitted by cars.

A government news release on June 5 said that vehicles produced prior to 1996 account for as much as two-thirds of smog-forming pollutants caused by vehicle use, despite the fact that they only make up one-third of the vehicles on the road.

“1995 and older is when cars were 15 or 20 times more polluting than they are today,” Chuck Strahl, Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, said on a conference call. “I've heard this argument from car dealers, who said the number one way to clean up the environment in terms of emissions and greenhouse gases, is just to get the old clunkers off the road.”

Strahl said in a news release that the recycling of cars would conform to standards under a National Car Recycling Code of Practice, though it did not specify what standards those would be.

The national program has yet to be implemented, and until it is the Government of Canada will contribute $3.4 million to B.C. Scrap-It, a provincial program that was the first vehicle-scrapping program aimed at getting old, licensed, insured and running vehicles off the road.

The provincial government announced in March that it would be investing $15 million to expand the Scrap-It program across British Columbia, money that has helped double the program’s biggest incentives to $2,000.

The B.C. Scrap-It program initially only took in vehicles insured in the Lower Mainland and produced prior to 1993, but has since expanded to accept vehicles produced in 1995 and earlier, according to Dan Gilmore, a spokesman for the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

Once retired, a car’s tires and gas tank are removed and the rest is shredded. No other parts of the car are removed for re-use or re-sale, Gilmore said.

Financial incentives are calibrated to the amount of greenhouse gases reduced by using a cleaner form of transportation, he added. The government measures the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through a GHG calculator developed by AirCare.

The Ministry of Environment said in its March announcement that the program could scrap between 10,000 and 20,000 vehicles over a three-year period.

However, it added that if 15,000 cars were retired each year, and each produced an average of three tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in a year, then the program could reduce emissions by 135,000 tonnes over three years.

Nick Heap, an energy and climate policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation, said that the auto sales market is seeing a fundamental shift towards smaller cars.

“There’s a very, very definite shift away from SUVs and pickups towards smaller and more compact vehicles,” he said. “The fleet that is being purchased today seems to be significantly more fuel-efficient than those in the past.”

As for the Scrap-It program, he said it will not result in reduced greenhouse gases on its own, but the trend towards smaller cars will contribute to lower emissions much more effectively.

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