If you think that Canadians are leading the way in the fight against climate change, think again. According to a new report by the International Energy Agency, Canada's vehicles fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are the highest per kilometre driven in the world. Canada's cars also clinched the number one spot for being the largest vehicles in the world and were also ranked the second heaviest, reports The Chronicle Herald.

The report found that the United States was ranked second worst for average grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, followed by the Philippines, Russia, Chile, Australia, Peru, and Egypt.  Portugal was ranked as having the best fuel efficiency.

So, in simple terms, what does this mean?  Well essentially, Canadian vehicles have been branded as massive, hefty gasoline-guzzlers.  Although some like to argue that Canada's substantial geographical area is to blame, others elect to justify the need for larger vehicles by pointing to our cold climate.

Scientists, however, claim that these arguments don't really hold any weight. According to The Chronicle Herald, 80 percent of Canadians reside in urban or suburban areas where "modest" vehicles are sufficient to handle most driving conditions. The article also explains that vehicles that travel vast distances actually result in better fuel efficiency, not worse.

As far as the "cold weather" argument is concerned, Blake Shaffer, PhD, of the University of Calgary, compares Canada's climate to that of Sweden, Finland, and Iceland - how have those countries functioned and flourished using lower-emitting vehicles?

In terms of vast distances, that actually calls for better fuel efficiency, not worse. And if cold weather is the excuse for buying an SUV, similarly frigid countries — Sweden, Finland and Iceland — have all managed to survive with lower-emitting vehicles.

Based on Shaffer's analysis, Canada's preference for large, inefficient cars stems from North American vehicle manufacturers push towards SUVs using clever marketing campaigns and economies of scale in production.  Over the past decade, consumers across Canada have been shifting towards trucks, including SUVs, crossovers, and minivans.

Shaffer also explains that the most significant reason for Canada's fuel inefficient vehicles is the relatively lower cost to purchase and operate gas guzzlers.  Compared to the rest of the world, upfront charges for vehicle registration and gas prices are much cheaper for larger vehicles in Canada.

Despite our constant complaining about rising gas prices, gas prices in Canada and the U.S. are relatively low compared to the rest of the world, which leads fuel consumption to be higher.

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