If the global zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) industry were a racetrack, Canada would be humming quietly somewhere in the back of the pack. Canadians know that ZEVs are a big part of our race to net-zero, and consumers are getting excited about electric cars. But our fledging industries in manufacturing EVs, batteries, and related industries are seriously lagging behind China and Europe.
We need private and public efforts to ramp up the ZEV market, including incentives, investments, and sales quotas. But the one enabling policy we can’t afford to wait for is the federal Clean Fuel Standard.
Canada’s Clean Fuel Standard released last December is expected to deliver about 12% of our emissions reductions needed nationally. Beyond carbon price, this is the single most impactful policy in the Canadian government’s climate plan. TAF has already spoken about the importance of this tool from a climate policy perspective, but there is a deep significance beyond the immediate carbon reduction.
We asked three industry experts on ZEVs what would be at stake if the policy were delayed past the 2022 deadline (as oil and gas lobbyists have pushed for) or diluted further. Here’s what they said:
Ian Thomson, President, Advanced Biofuels
“Canada is in a global race to attract the billions of dollars pouring into low carbon projects and technologies, and there has never been a better time to send a clear ‘clean fuels’ signal to the investment community. The CFS levels the playing field by giving Canadians access to healthier, climate-friendly energies ‘at the pump’ and ‘at the plug,’ improving the business case for investment in emerging clean fuel industries.”
Daniel Breton, President and CEO, Electric Mobility Canada
“Investment in the EV industry depends on clear, long-term policy signals. This gives investors the confidence to direct their dollars towards the right solutions. Complementary to other innovative solutions, a strong Clean Fuel Standard with a clear policy trajectory out to 2030 will give our sector and other clean tech players the certainty they need to drive massive clean tech investments and job creation in Canada.”
Bora Plumptre, Senior Policy Analyst, Pembina Institute
“The Clean Fuel Standard is deeply significant because of the way it enables clean transportation options to begin scaling up immediately and the way it reorganizes domestic fuel markets (and the economic value of fuels) around the concept of lifecycle carbon intensity. Any delay in the policy or reduction of the carbon intensity requirements could significantly reduce its impact.”
Without this policy certainty, Canada misses out on the global competitive race to decarbonize right now, and risks losing the clean, prosperous economic activity that follows. All fossil fuel-powered cars need to be replaced with electric ones in our path to net-zero emissions (meanwhile, transportation emissions are increasing here in the GTHA). Without this important policy signal, it will be impossible to reach that kind of scale.
While the regulation is under review following a consultation period, advocates are most concerned the policy is at risk of being delayed or tempered by reducing the carbon intensity requirements for fuel producers. We’ve already seen the government give too much away since the initial policy was introduced, removing the parts intended to regulate gaseous and solid fuels. Caving to pressure from fossil fuel lobbyists and weakening the remaining liquid stream of the Clean Fuel Standard would be disastrous for our climate and for our budding ZEV industries.
The future could be bright and electrified for ZEV drivers and industry, but the there is no time to idle on the Clean Fuel Standard.
See TAF’s policy submission on the draft Clean Fuel Regulations.