TORONTO -- Auto industry lobbyists met with Prime Minister Paul Martin last week to oppose a possible fee on gasoline-guzzling vehicles.
Canada has signed the Kyoto climate change treaty and is looking for ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The government is considering a "feebate" program, under which it would add a fee to the price of vehicles with poorer mileage and give money to consumers who buy gasoline sippers.
The government hasn't received a policy paper that it asked for on the idea, but the industry launched a full-court press last week, meeting with Martin, cabinet ministers, opposition leaders and bureaucrats.
Feebates "don't work," Huw Williams, chief lobbyist for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association told Automotive News. Incentives to scrap the 2 million pre-1987 vehicles still on the road would be much more effective in cutting emissions, he says.
Last spring, Ottawa asked the government-backed panel of experts, called the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, to look into feebates.
On Aug. 31, the panel presented auto and environmental lobbyists a consultant's study showing that feebates work, says John Bennett of the Sierra Club, who was at the meeting. "It was vehemently opposed by the car industry," he told Automotive News.
The Sierra Club is suggesting a fee of $300 Canadian (about $256) on low-mileage vehicles. The club proposes rebates as high as $7,260 for such high-mileage vehicles as diesels and hybrids.
Meanwhile, the free market is already discouraging sales of gas guzzlers. Gasoline prices have climbed well above the price used in the consultant's report, and already are hurting sales of less-efficient vehicles, September sales figures show.
The United States has not signed the Kyoto treaty, designed to reduce industrial production of gases, such as carbon dioxide, that cause global warming.