To meet their goal that all cars in Canada be electric by 2035, the Liberals must make it the law, according to a new study.
In June, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced he was advancing the target to make all cars electric by 2035, five years ahead of schedule.
Canada’s going electric! ⚡️
To build a greener economy, create good jobs, and put Canadians in the driver’s seat to a net-zero future, our government is accelerating its mandatory sales target of 100% zero-emission vehicles from 2040 to 2035. pic.twitter.com/jpF7ubSyLc
— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) June 29, 2021
The Liberal platform then upped the ante by promising a “regulated sales requirement” that “at least 50 per cent of all new light-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission vehicles in 2030,” bringing Alghabra’s pronouncement closer to concrete policy.
A “regulated sales requirement” — code for a sales mandate — forces vehicle manufacturers to ensure that a certain percentage of cars they sell in the Canadian market are electric.
All political parties supported an electric-vehicle (EV) mandate during the election campaign, with the Conservatives and NDP promising something similar.
The proposed mandate is the only way to meet the government’s EV goals, according to modelling by Clean Energy Canada.
While policies exist to stimulate both the supply of and demand for EVs, current measures won’t get Canada anywhere near the target, the study shows, so an EV mandate is the way to go.
“Canada could achieve 24 per cent EV sales by 2030, at best, under (U.S. President Joe) Biden’s new rules, with no additional measures” — well short of Canada’s goal, according to modelling done by Simon Fraser University professor Jon Axsen for Clean Energy Canada.
“Biden’s new rules” refer to regulations for tailpipe emissions the president announced on Aug. 5. They’ll apply from 2023 to 2026, and will replace former U.S. president Donald Trump’s weaker regulations.
Since 2012, Canada has been applying the regulations — the only federal policy designed to increase the supply of EVs across the country — which require that new cars sold by 2026 get at least 38.2 miles per gallon (61.5 kilometres per gallon).
They’re the “most stringent (emissions standards for) federal light-duty vehicles” ever set, according to a release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But the EPA doesn’t expect the new standards will result in many more EVs on American roads, departmental figures show.
In 2023, the first year the standards are applied, the EPA expects American drivers will buy 3.6 per cent more battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Battery-powered vehicles (BEVs) are true zero-emissions vehicles without a combustion engine. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) run largely on electricity, but still have a combustion engine.
By 2024, the EPA estimates that the number of BEVs and PHEVs will have gone up by 5.1 per cent, with increases of 5.8 per cent by 2025, and 7.8 per cent by 2026, the final year the new standards apply.
EV uptake in Canada has been increasing over the years, but is still very low compared to gas-powered vehicles.
In 2020, 3.5 per cent of new vehicle registrations were for EVs, StatCan data show. That’s up from 2.9 per cent in 2019, 2.2 per cent in 2018, and one per cent in 2017.
Canada has several programs already to boost EV sales, including federal and provincial rebates, which can be combined to increase demand.
But a shortage of supply-side policies is a “key barrier to (EV) adoption” in Canada, the Transport Canada study said.
The federal government wants to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and getting more EVs on the road is key to that effort.
In Canada, the transportation sector accounts for 25 per cent of total emissions, with cars and light trucks making up nearly half the sector’s total, according to figures from Environment and Climate Change Canada.