Canada's government is announcing new regulations to lower greenhouse gas emissions in cars and trucks that will bring the country's auto sector in line with what the United States has already announced.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq is in New York for the UN Climate Summit, and will announce the federal regulations, which will extend and deepen emission cuts that are currently in place.

But the NDP's environment critic, Megan Leslie, said the some of the regulations were first announced by former environment minister Peter Kent nearly two years ago.

"What this comes down to is that Leona Aglukkaq couldn't show up (at the Climate Summit) empty handed," Leslie told reporters Monday. "And so she's gone down there to announce something they already announced two years ago and that just really brings us in line with what the U.S. is already doing. This is not leadership."

Kent first announced draft regulations for light passenger vehicles two years ago. Aglukkaq announced Monday that those regulations have been finalized and will take effect on Oct. 8, running until 2025. The government has estimated that by 2025, cars will use 50 per cent less fuel than 2008 models.

Aglukkaq also announced:

  • The government intends to further regulate fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Draft regulations for further cuts to smog-producing emissions from cars, including sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.
  • Draft regulations to lower the amount of sulphur allowed in gasoline by as much as 80 per cent once the regulations are fully implemented.

Aglukkaq's office said the draft regulations would be posted in the Canada Gazette Sept. 27.

Aglukkaq made the announcement at an auto sector round table during one of a series of climate change meetings leading up to the session organized by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.

Calgary Toll Roads

The new emissions regulations announced Monday bring Canada in line, once again, with the United States. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

During that session, countries are expected to recommit to greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, in order to reach a new international treaty by the end of 2015.

Government leaders from more than 100 nations are attending Ban's summit Tuesday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in New York but is not attending the summit. Aglukkaq, instead, will address the summit Tuesday afternoon, while Harper will address the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Asked Monday about his decision to skip the leaders' Climate Summit, Harper said climate change is just one of "any number of significant challenges that are before us."

"We look at this year [and] we have obviously new and emerging peace and security threats that range from ... terrorist organizations to major countries, in the case of the threat against Ukraine," Harper told reporters on Parliament Hill following a meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

"We have challenges of development, humanitarian aid, pandemics. We have challenges of human rights and governance. We have, obviously, trade issues and the economy. And obviously I try and touch on a number of these, including climate change," he said.

Harper added he would attend a dinner with Park and other leaders, hosted by Ban Ki Moon, Tuesday night, and was looking forward to a discussion "on how we can work together collectively to address [climate change]."

CONSERVATIVE CLIMATE TALK

Mobile users, view The Canadian Press graphic here

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated from an earlier version to make clear what part of Monday's announcement is new.
    Sep 22, 2014 5:46 PM ET