Legislation, economics charging up zero emissions vehicles feasibility

Legislation, economics charging up zero emissions vehicles feasibility

By Lawrence Belanger

Local Journalism Initiative


Under new rules proposed Wednesday by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, beginning in 2026, 20 per cent of all new vehicles sold in Canada must be zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). The rules come on the heels of Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, a sector-by-sector approach announced last spring by the federal government to cut emissions by 40 per cent from 2005 levels and to have net-zero emissions by 2050. The rules codify targets the Federal Government set over 2021 and 2022 by creating a sales mandate. By 2030, the mandate will triple to 60 per cent. By 2035, 100 per cent of new cars sold in Canada must be ZEVs (electric, hybrid, or hydrogen).

While reactions to the announcement varied from lukewarm to excited, there remain many barriers to achieving this goal, from a lack of infrastructure to a lack of the cars themselves. Based on Transport Canada’s analysis, the ZEV share of light-duty vehicle sales was 5.6 per cent in 2021, and 3.8 per cent in 2020, up from 3.1 per cent in 2019 and 2.3 per cent in 2018.

Julien Bourque, Quebec Coordinator for the Canadian Climate Institute, called the news “a step forward,” noting the two provinces with the highest sales of ZEVs, British Columbia and Quebec have mandates of their own, which in his view (and that of the Federal Governments) prove the effectiveness of a mandate. A report released last week by the Climate Institute concluded that these provincial mandates, in place since 2019 and 2016 respectively, drove ZEV sales ahead of the rest of the country.

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