B.C. Signs Onto Clean Vehicle Alliance

Steam Tower

By Jonny Wakefield

December 17, 2015

All new cars on B.C. roads could be carbon emission-free by 2050, thanks to a clean vehicle alliance that B.C. environment Minister Mary Polak signed onto at climate talks in Paris last week.

B.C. became the 14th jurisdiction to join the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance, alongside Quebec, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and eight American states.

The province has pledged to “strive” to make all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the province by 2050 zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), a class that includes battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

There are currently fewer than 2,000 ZEVs on the road in B.C.  

Energy Minister Bill Bennett told Business in Vancouver that improving charging infrastructure and incentivizing ZEVs are among the top priorities of B.C.’s climate action plan, which is being updated.

The government reckons the ZEV plan could greatly reduce emissions from transportation, which currently make up a third of the province’s total emissions. It believes the plan could prevent up to a billion tonnes of global greenhouse gases by 2050.

B.C. and Quebec are among the best positioned provinces to promote ZEVs, as both have bountiful low-emission hydro-electric resources.

If successful, the plan would see an almost complete overhaul of the auto industry in B.C.

Charging stations would need to be added “all along the Trans-Canada Highway,” Bennett told the Canadian Press.

“You continue to provide incentives at this stage, and we’ll have to do that for at least the next decade,” he said. “We’re a long ways from that, but that’s where it’s going to have to go.”

B.C. began offering purchase incentives for clean energy vehicles in 2011, which helped double the number of those vehicles on the road.

The plan could see new investment in the province from companies like Tesla, which in 2014 opened its first Canadian showroom in Vancouver and added a “supercharger” station in Squamish.

Business in Vancouver notes a shift to ZEVs would play havoc with some car dealerships, which would lose out on maintenance work associated with internal combustion engines, like oil changes. However, that could translate to fewer fuel and maintenance costs for owners over the long haul.