Challenge for Canadians

Most of the energy we use each day produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. On average, each Canadian generates just over five tonnes of greenhouse gases per year by driving vehicles, heating and cooling homes, washing and drying clothes and using other appliances. By making choices that reduce our GHG emissions, we are doing our part to address climate change.

“Canadian motorists idle their vehicles an average of five to 10 minutes per day,” said a Natural Resources news release. “A recent study suggests that in the peak of winter, Canadians voluntarily idle their vehicles for a combined total of more than 75 million minutes a day – equivalent to one vehicle idling for 144 years.”

If idling was avoided – most cars are ready to go after 15 to 30 seconds – Canadians would save 1.8-million litres of fuel per day, preventing 4,500 tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. Natural Resources Canada goes on to argue that, beside wasting money, fuel and contributing to pollution, idling damages an engine. That’s because an idling engine runs at a cool temperature and does not burn all the fuel that leaves residue on the cylinder walls and can cause damage.

Furthermore, idling an engine does nothing to warm up other parts of the car. Other “myths” include the suggestion that starting and stopping a car causes wear and tear and that it uses up more fuel. “Believe it or not, more than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel that restarting the engine,” Natural Resources found. More frequent use of the starter and battery adds $10 a year to the maintenance of a car, far less than the money saved by using less fuel.

  • Transport – Cars travel about 15,000 km a year, creating six tonnes of greenhouse gases. You can cut greenhouse gas emissions now, by using your vehicle less.

  • Drive less. Reduce the number of car journeys you make, by planning ahead. Can you do without your car? Live close to your workplace, use public transport, cycle, walk, car pool or use a taxi. They are all options for helping take vehicles off the road.

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