Speeding toward global warming

The Provincial government is currently undertaking a review of speed limits on rural highways in the province.


The Provincial government is currently undertaking a review of speed limits on rural highways in the province.  Although the need for this review or the motivation behind it has not been adequately explained, it appears to be in response to a grass roots campaign to raise speed limits.

It is strange that speed limits being too low would be one of the first priorities for a new minister.  I guess everything else must be in good shape in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure? I have read through the public discussion paper and it is clear that the provincial government has chosen to ignore a key factor that should be considered when determining highway speed limits.  That is the relationship between vehicle speed and green house gas emissions (GHG).

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that,

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes.  It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

According to the B.C. government’s budget and fiscal plan for 2008/09 we were “legally committed to reducing 2020 emissions to 33 per cent below the 2002 level.”

Household GHG emissions constitute over 30 per cent  of the provincial total and 44 per cent of Household GHG emissions is from cars and trucks. Most cars, vans, SUVs and pick-up trucks operate most fuel efficiently when travelling between 50 and 80 km/h.  Above this optimal speed zone, vehicles consume increasingly more fuel the faster they go.   At 120 km/h, a vehicle uses about 20 percent more fuel than at 100 km/h.  On a 25-km trip, this spike in speed — and fuel consumption — would cut just two minutes from your travel time (Natural Resources Canada).

Are we all that important that we can’t spare the few minutes it takes to drive a little slower?  We should all try to slow down, relax and enjoy the scenery.  You will be doing your part to reduce emissions; you will reduce your fuel costs and will likely be reducing your risk of being in an accident.

B.C. residents have until Jan. 24, 2014 to express their views. Go to engage.gov.bc.ca/safety and speed review.

Keith Monroe

150 Mile House