Canada's Liberal government wants all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be zero-emissions vehicles by the year 2035, but it won’t legislate the means to reach its objective. At least not yet.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra on Tuesday said the government was pulling ahead its ZEV sales goal by five years. The government had initially set 2040 as the year in which it wanted to see all light-duty vehicles sold to be of the zero-emissions variety.
Alghabra said the government “will pursue additional mandatory zero-emissions vehicle measures to ensure we get to our 2035 goal,” if the transition doesn’t happen fast enough.
He said the government is looking at the expansion of incentives, qualifying the purchase of used ZEVs for incentives, investing in charging and more.
"Let me just say, our target is ambitious, undoubtedly, but it is a must," Alghabra said of the new target. "We believe that it's doable. It needs determination, it needs focus, it needs effort."
The Global Automakers of Canada, which represents 15 overseas car companies that sell vehicles in Canada, criticized the plan.
“We share the government’s ultimate objective of carbon elimination but find today’s announcement lacking in the details that will be required for Canada to successfully make the transition to 100 percent ZEV sales by 2035,” GAC President David Adams said in a statement.
Adams said the industry has already made plans to move to carbon neutrality by or before 2050.
The industry globally is investing over C$330 billion ($267 billion U.S.) to bring ZEVs to market and GAC members will have more than 125 models in the Canadian market by 2025, he said. The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association says it’s ready to work with the federal government when it comes to hitting the target, but the association would like to see policy with more teeth.
“Achieving this target requires ambitious policy actions from government to encourage and support Canadians to make the transition to ZEVs by building a comprehensive charging network across Canada, enhancing consumer purchase incentives for ZEVs and educating Canadians about the benefits of ZEVs,” CVMA CEO Brian Kingston said in a statement.
The International Energy Agency says that to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050, all new light-duty vehicle sales would have to be ZEVs by 2035, a year in which General Motors aims to have an all-electric lineup, for example.
According to the IEA, more than 20 countries to date have announced the full phase-out of internal combustion engine (ICE) car sales over the next 10-30 years. Moreover, more than 120 countries have announced economy-wide net-zero emissions pledges that aim to reach net zero in the coming few decades.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said with the tougher goal the country would work with the U.S. on fuel efficiency and consult with stakeholders on new regulatory measures.
He said harmonized rules would drive more accelerated ZEV deployment in the two countries.
“We are not alone in committing to 2035. This is absolutely where the world is going. This where the world needs to go,” Wilkinson said. “We must reduce our emissions.”