In early July, the federal government released its long-awaited Clean Fuel Regulations. In development since 2016, they were intended to replicate successful Low Carbon Fuel Standards like the ones in British Columbia and California.
Originally aimed at reducing Canada’s emissions by lowering the carbon intensity of the fuels we consume, the Clean Fuel Regulations promised to reduce annual carbon emissions by 30 megatonnes. Over the past six years, this ambitious goal was reduced in scope and stringency to the point that independent analysis by the Pembina Institute indicates an optimistic scenario of reducing just 6 megatonnes.
The question for climate advocates is, what now? There are still some details to figure out about the regulations, but they are unlikely to fix the complex structural issues or fill the emissions reduction gap. Instead, there are two other federal regulations coming this year that could, and they need your support. It’s time to pay close attention and focus on the execution of the Zero Emissions Vehicle Sales Mandate and Clean Electricity Standard:
Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate must follow through on its intended ambition
The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate for personal cars (and an accompanying regulation for medium and heavy-duty trucks) must sustain its targets and timelines. For personal vehicles, that means 60% of new vehicle sales by 2030 must be EVs, reaching 100% by 2035. The government is appropriately setting the bar high, so it’s critical they hear from stakeholders and the public to hold the line and follow through. Write to your MP to say you support a strong ZEV mandate to reduce transportation emissions.
The Clean Electricity Standard is essential for a net-zero grid
The proposed Clean Electricity Standard will aim to decarbonize the electricity grids across Canada. As we transition to electrifying everything from home heating to the cars we drive, we must ensure that the electricity we consume is generated by zero emissions sources. Send the message that a clean electricity system is a crucial part of a modern, reliable, net-zero future.
After six years of work, it would be easy for stakeholders and climate advocates to feel frustrated about the missed opportunity of the Clean Fuel Regulations. But the regulations were just one opportunity to decarbonize, and losing potential megatonnes of reductions from one policy means tightening stringencies elsewhere. That means holding the government accountable for their policy commitments and ensuring they follow through on targets and timelines. Governments don’t often get positive feedback, so when the ambition is right, it’s important to let them know and encourage follow-through on implementation. Get involved and follow consultations for both the ZEV Sales Mandate and Clean Electricity Standard. Write to your MP, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and the Environment Committee – even make their day with a positive tweet. When we stay on top of these regulations, we will see the change that we want.