I love driving diesel trucks. So why does Canada exempt me from the emissions law?

Editor’s Note — In the CX: Vancouver, B.C. company Effenco’s energy-efficient light trucks are winning new converts and could save energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions all around. This report showcases those products and the competition with its counterparts.

(CNN) — I always wanted to own a big-rig truck.

I love to go on long hauls on multi-lane highways, enjoying the beautiful landscapes and scenery that the skies can offer. To me, driving a truck is easy, a joy to do, and quite convenient. And I love the challenge of navigating the country roads in the middle of the night.

But last year, I met with something all truck drivers dread: a fuel inspection. And though fuel could easily pay for my new truck, I found that engine and exhaust emissions standards in Quebec were impacting my options.

Dense cities

I know a diesel-powered truck sounds like it’s emitting a lot of air pollution. But I also know that diesel-powered trucks that carry a lot of freight are required to comply with various HEV and emissions standards designed to reduce vehicle fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. And truck emissions account for anywhere from 4% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions — a huge portion of the environmental impact from industry.

In France, which has the highest concentration of trucks, the government recently introduced new rules requiring 8% of all heavy-duty trucks that transport goods of more than 10,000 pounds to be electric, fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) by 2023. The mandate applies to all new heavy-duty trucks, not just ones that actually use diesel. Diesel trucks are often thought of as dirty and polluting. Yet the new legislation does not require HEVs to meet all of the specific truck emissions standards under the Euro VI (Euro VI HEV) regulations.

Unfortunately, Quebec has not followed suit. While it is possible to qualify for the HEV standards and qualify for HEV credits on a diesel truck, it is not possible to qualify for HEV credits on a diesel truck that has predominantly combustion engines.

That means when I drive my diesel truck in the province of Quebec, I have to accept the fact that if the government requires I meet the HEV regulations for my diesel truck and because of that, have to pay a premium for the diesel-powered, HEV version, that I’m not able to fulfill my emissions goals using my diesel truck as the car I want to buy.

Fast-changing model

That’s not what I want.

Rather than competing with HEVs or buying diesel, I could invest in a diesel-electric hybrid option, which generates both electricity and gasoline and therefore leads to lower emissions. Or, I could invest in a truck with reduced aerodynamic drag, an improved fuel efficiency and other efficiency improvements. To me, these are some of the best bang-for-the-buck options available. But my diesel truck is exempt from the restrictions and reverts to burning diesel, even if I choose to order a diesel truck with a HEV hybrid option.

Follow the rules?

The problem with this, of course, is that diesel trucks account for the lion’s share of commerce in Quebec and therefore account for much of the pollution.

Fortunately, as diesel and natural gas transition into the world of electricity and renewable energies, regulation related to transportation (like those in France) will begin to have less of an impact on truck emissions. New transportation energy resources will improve our options to meet emissions regulations. As more and more of our energy needs are met by the energy that we create, cars, airplanes, ships and trucks may have to struggle to meet stringent emissions standards.

Yet for me, that will not be my choice; I’ll continue to drive my diesel truck, whether for efficiency, energy independence or other reasons.

But if you do choose to drive a diesel-powered truck in Quebec, be sure to look for the potential environmental benefits of investing in the HEV option — or any other clean-energy option — as opposed to the more expensive diesel option.

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