B.C. proposes mandate for electric vehicles

unced a ban on the sale of new gas and diesel cars or targeted 100 per cent clean vehicle sales by 2030, Scotland has done the same by 2032 and France and the UK by 2040

The ideas could become a “powerful suite of policies for reducing emissions” that will show B.C. is ready to “shift back into a position of leadership on climate change,” says Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada.

Woynillowicz told me former premier Gordon Campbell is responsible for getting the ball rolling. In 2007, the Campbell government set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050. At the time, Campbell said the target was the most aggressive in North America.

Those targets have not been met. B.C. reduced emissions by only 4.7 per cent between 2007 and 2015, government data shows.

In 2008, Campbell also implemented the continent’s first broad-based carbon tax.

Under former premier Christy Clark, those policies stalled, Woynillowicz said.

“At the same time, we had a growing population and increased economic activity, so without that sustained effort, that has led to emissions starting to creep up again.”

The NDP government set new targets this year, including a 40-per-cent reduction by 2030 and a 60 per cent reduction by 2040. The 80 per cent reduction by 2050 target remains in place.

Gasoline and diesel cars could be banned by 2040

Under the proposals, automakers would have to make sure they sell a certain percentage of zero emissions cars – 10 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030. One idea is banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and India have already either announced a ban on the sale of new gas and diesel cars or targeted 100 per cent clean vehicle sales by 2030, Scotland has done the same by 2032 and France and the UK by 2040, the report says.

“These are the types of policies packages that we’re seeing in those jurisdictions that have really been at the leading edge of climate and energy policy,” Woynillowicz said. “They’re also looking beyond personal vehicles and looking at what they can do to encourage more electrification of everything from cargo trucks to ferries.”

Heyman said he has been told by auto manufacturers that the price gap between zero-emission vehicles and internal combustion vehicles is rapidly closing and that there may be no difference in price by 2025.

The proposal looks beyond cars and suggests incentives for clean heavy duty vehicles, buses, transport trucks, motorcycles and heavy equipment, as well as electric charging and hydrogen fueling stations at ports, service yards and truck stops.

“Buses are a huge opportunity,” Woynillowicz said. “BC Transit is looking to replace almost half of its fleet over the next five years. Whether those purchases are diesel buses, diesel electric hybrid or pure electric is going to make a significant difference to the emissions associated with the transit system in our province.”

Some critics, like Eric Doherty, a Victoria-based transportation planning consultant and president of Ecopath Planning, say the new transportation proposal is “weak, and incomplete – with more ideas promised later.”

He may be right, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Without a plan, strict targets and accountabilities, B.C. will never reach its targets. The intentions papers are a starting point.