WINNIPEG, Man. – Regulation is absolutely critical to dealing with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and past successes in dealing with dire environmental situations show that regulation can make a difference, Steve Ashton Manitoba minister of infrastructure and transportation told a heavy duty truck emissions conference hosted by the University of Manitoba Transport Institute.
“Clearly climate change is here to stay. The question is do we continue to debate the problem or focus on solutions? …It’s important to recognize that setting emission standards is going to be absolutely critical to getting any kind of progress.,” Ashton said. “We’ve proven internationally that regulations can make a difference. We used to have as much discussion about acid rain. When was the last time you read about acid rain in the newspaper? …A few decades ago the challenge was the hole in the ozone layer. How often do you read about that now?”
He also challenged the federal government, which recently released its plans to reduce heavy duty truck emissions, to reach higher.
“Most of the public is ahead of the government on the issue. Talk to people and you see that most assume that development has to be sustainable. That was a revolutionary idea in the 90s,” Ashton said.
Manitoba, Ashton added, is well positioned to see its transportation industry grow as the province evolves into a true hub for North American activity. But that growth will also place pressure on the province’s GHG emissions.
Ashton said it’s important to use regulations to drive a structural shift in the industry, which in turn will drive technological advances.
“Over the next 20 years I believe we will see a quantum shift in fuel efficiency and emissions,” he said.
Ashton also preached patience with first generation green products, which may not be delivering the kind of performance truck owners would expect.
“We can’t give up on the first generation products and assume they are the best we can do. The early diesels had numerous problems too,” he pointed out.