July 8, 2020

Above photo by Patrick Spencer / Spoke News

All around the world, in Canada and even here in Kitchener, Ont., activists have been stopping traffic for different lengths of time to spread awareness about climate change. But there’s something quite ironic and counterproductive in this equation.

In a story by Patrick Spencer for Spoke News, 12 climate activists stopped morning traffic momentarily for two minutes at a time in early October. The activists are a part of a local chapter of Extinction Rebellion. This didn’t just happen in Canada, it happened in various places around the world. 

The ironic part in all of this is that when a vehicle is stopped to a halt and idles it wastes more gas, costs drivers more money and produces more CO2 emissions. 

“For the average vehicle with a 3-litre engine, every 10 minutes of idling costs 300 millilitres (over 1 cup) in wasted fuel – and one half of a litre (over 2 cups) if your vehicle has a 5-litre engine,” reports Natural Resources Canada. 

The article also said idling longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more CO2 compared to restarting the engine.

The average driver owns a four-litre engine and if you do the math, every 10 minutes of idling uses 400 millilitres of fuel. When activists stopped traffic in early October, they protested for about an hour. If we calculate it to just one vehicle: 2400 ml or 2.4L of fuel was wasted for every hour that a car was stopped. All across the globe, this was happening, just imagine the amount of CO2 emissions that resulted because of this. 

According to Natural Resources Canada, an average gasoline vehicle emits roughly 2.3 kilograms of CO2 per every litre of gasoline. One hour of idling uses 2.4 litres in an average four-litre engine, resulting in 5.52 kilograms of CO2 emitted per each hour a car idles.

Don’t get me wrong — they were doing this in good spirit — saving the planet and all. 

But isn’t there a better way to spread awareness than stopping traffic? People are just trying to get to work. In places like San Francisco, people got angry. 


The 2016 Canadian census indicated that there were a total of 33.8 million registered vehicles in Canada. According to statista.com, in 2017 about 26 million people held a driver’s license in Canada.  

According to a census study released on Feb. 25, 2019, 12.6 million Canadians reported that they commuted to work by car. Out of that 12.6 million, 854,000 commuters spent at least 60 minutes travelling to work, and many of them all live and work in the same area.

With this info, if you divide the number of commuters by the Canadian population (37.59 million) you find that 33.5 per cent of Canadians commute to work.

When you look at this info at a grand scheme, Canadians aren’t going to stop going to work — especially when they travel a far distance. 

So let’s talk green alternatives. 

Oh, you can’t afford a $30-$50,000 electric vehicle? 

The government will take up to $5,000 off any electric vehicle and $2,500 off any hybrid that costs less than $55,000. The cheapest electric car on the market is $29,050, which is pretty comparable to non-electric vehicles.

If you can afford to make the switch, go for it.

If not we understand. 

The truth of the matter is we can’t stop Canadians from commuting to work, a lot of the jobs are in the big cities. But we could make the change to electric. 

And then maybe we wouldn’t be stopped by protesters on our way to work in the morning.

Leave a Reply