Green Cars To Get Green Plates, Added Benefits

Ontario's Liberal Environment Minister Laurel Broten announced yesterday that motorists who choose to drive "green" cars and light trucks (like a Prius, or a Smart car) will be awarded with a green-hued license plate. This special plate will allow them certain freedoms that other motorists do not get, such as free parking and the ability to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

The new plates, which are expected to appear next spring (as long as the Ontario Liberals are voted back in at election time this October), will be issued to drivers with vehicles that are deemed low-emission. Consultations with vehicle manufacturers and environmental groups will determine which cars are the most worthy of the new "eco-license".

The purpose of this new plan is to motivate drivers to make greener decisions, but the opposition finds it hard to believe a green license plate will have any influence. New Democrat critic Peter Tabuns called the announcement "small potatoes given the scope of the problem before us". He goes on to say, "My guess is it would be a very minor impact in terms of people's decision-making in these matters."

Photo by blogTO Flickrite CurlyCam.

In my opinion, being environmentally friendly has become fairly trendy as of late, and I think the green license plates may be popular enough as a symbol of this. Plus, every little bit counts! I hope this program starts the ball rolling for more environmental breaks, like the suggestion made by Environmental Defence policy director Aaron Freeman; he'd like to get the eco-license drivers a discount on their annual vehicle registration fees, too. And how about more tax breaks (or other advantages) for those of us who choose not to drive a car at all?

The fact that some politicians are against this simple step towards a heightened awareness of climate change makes me believe there's something deeper in the opposition. I bet it's a matter of finances- it always is. There's no mention as to how much a project like this will cost, but it's one of three aggressive new incentives that were announced by the Liberals yesterday. The other two are a $15-million pilot project to help businesses convert to more environmentally friendly technologies, and the installation of two new ethanol fueling stations- one in London and another in Peterborough.

What do you think? Will the opportunity for free parking and faster commuting be enough of an incentive to buy an environmentally friendly vehicle? Do you think more attention should be given to public transit riders and cyclists/bladers/skaters/walkers? Do you think this announcement is a "last gasp" for the Ontario Liberals, hoping to gain votes for the October election?

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