Two top Canadian ministers said on Wednesday that they had resolved to cut global-warming emissions of cars and trucks sold in Canada by 25 percent by the end of the decade.
The commitment means that the auto industry faces steep cuts in greenhouse gases in Canada as well as in California and the Northeastern US, a geographic expanse that encompasses nearly one-third of the cars and trucks sold in North America.
The Canadian ministers said they expected to conclude soon several years of negotiations with the auto industry over the government's 25 percent emissions reduction goal, and they made clear in a joint interview Wednesday that they would not settle for a lower reduction number.
"We're very clear where we want to go," said John Efford, Canada's natural resources minister. "We are not backing off from our position. Are we going to say 10 percent is OK? Fifteen percent? No. Twenty-five percent is our goal, and the auto industry clearly understands that."
Stephane Dion, Canada's environment minister, said "the fact that California has moved, the fact that some northern states like Maine and New York are saying that they are considering to take the same regulations as California, if you add Canada to that, it's a third of the market. I don't see why North America can't be a leader instead of a follower."
Several Northeastern states follow California's air quality regulations, and in a meeting earlier this month representatives from those states indicated they were likely to follow California's new greenhouse gas regulation, adopted in September, which lays out a 30 percent emissions reduction by 2016.
The California regulation still faces an almost certain legal challenge from the auto industry.
Dion and Efford also met with Fran Pavley, the California assemblywoman who sponsored that state's greenhouse gas regulation. Pavley brought a letter from a top official in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration seeking to work cooperatively with Canada on the issue.
"We can drive the market forces," said Pavley. "We can leverage the market forces if California joins with some states in the United States and Canada, which will help encourage the automobile manufacturers."