New ZEV Mandate for Canada

February 25th 2024
On December 19 Environment and Climate Change Canada released an Electric Vehicle Availability Standard that applies to new light duty vehicles that now account for about half of Canada's transportation sector emissions. Under the standard manufacturers and importers must meet zero emission vehicle (ZEV) targets, beginning at 20% of total sales in 2026, 60% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. ZEVs include battery electrics, plug-in hybrid electrics (with battery ranges of at least 80 km) and fuel-cell vehicles. Enforcement of the targets uses a credit system, whereby manufacturers that exceed targets generate credits that they can bank or trade. Manufacturers that miss their targets generate deficits, which must be discharged in three model years.

The claimed benefits of the standard include ensuring that the supply of ZEVs keeps up with consumer demand, enhancing consumer choice (as long as the only choice is ZEV) and reducing wait times. Despite having heard concerns from people living in rural and northern communities, the government is counting on technology improvements, with plug-in hybrids helping to bridge the charging infrastructure gap. Another claimed benefit is preventing a cumulative 362 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions (worth $96 billion).

However, a BNN Bloomberg story casts doubt on the need for more ZEV supply, noting that EV inventories have been growing exponentially and that the new standard puts Canada out of step with US vehicle regulations. A article lists a number of things that have to go right for Canada to achieve 100% ZEV sales by 2035: no Conservative governments; decrease in battery prices; solid-state batteries; more charging stations; battery recycling becoming a reality; the prairie provinces "getting religion"; re-introduction of ZEV subsidies by Ontario, and maintenance of federal subsidies for longer than originally proposed.

The Toronto Star, which usually supports the current Liberal government and climate action, published an opinion piece explaining why North American EV mandates are destined to fail. It’s mainly because the mandates overlook two realities — consumer preferences are not easily swayed by top-down government directives, and the timeline for obtaining the minerals crucial for electric vehicles is unrealistic. The authors, two analysts from the Fraser Institute, note that 2022 ZEV sales in Canada were only 6.5% (98,589) of the 1.5 million new vehicles sold. Assuming the same total vehicle sales for 2030, the ZEV portion would have to be 900,000, a nine-fold amount. The International Energy Agency has determined that, to meet international EV mandates by 2030, the world would need 388 new mines. For context, in 2021 there were only 340 metal mines operating in Canada and the US, and it takes from 6 to 18 years to develop new mining and refining facilities.

The Star story, together with other "destined to fail" pieces about the ZEV regulations in the Globe and Mail and the National Post, prompted an alarmed DeSmog to publish a rebuttal, replete with ad hominem attacks on the authors and any person or organization affiliated with them.

Credits to Friends of Science

Click to close