British Columbia has announced a 2040 deadline for all new cars and trucks sold in the province to be zero-emission, but the overall impact of the province’s move may be limited by the lack of a national electric vehicle mandate.
“There’s nothing more important than taking care of the place we call home,” said  Premier John Horgan. “As a province, we need to work together to put B.C. on a path that powers our future with clean, renewable energy and reduces air pollution.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
But “if we want British Columbians to be part of the solution for reducing air pollution, we need to make clean energy vehicles more affordable, available, and convenient,” he added in a release.
Horgan said the mandate will be introduced in legislation this spring, and phased in to boost sales of electric and hydrogen vehicles and reduce their price.
“The proposed legislation would require 10% of all new light-duty vehicles sold by 2025 to produce zero emissions. That percentage would jump to 30% by 2030 and then 100% by 2040,” CBC reports.
“As part of the plan, the government says it’s boosting the provincial incentive program for new car buyers by $20 million this year and will look at expanding the program over time,” the national broadcaster adds. Incentives currently stand at up to $5,000 for EVs and up to $6,000 for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The ZEV mandate “is the first announcement as part of an upcoming economic plan focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province by 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050,” National Observer reports. “Meeting those targets was always going to be a challenge, but with the recently announced approval of an LNG plant in Kitimat , which will add significant emissions into our atmosphere, it’s going to require even more drastic change.”
But in the absence of a national mandate—something that was expected from the federal government this fall, but now seems to be slipping away—there’s growing concern that decisive action in provinces like B.C. and Quebec will just redistribute the available ZEVs to different parts of the country, rather than increasing Canada’s overall fleet of electric and other alternative vehicles.
“That doesn’t mean ZEV mandates aren’t potent policy tools within the jurisdictions that impose them,” CBC reports , citing Clean Energy Canada Policy Director Dan Woynilloiwcz. But without a national plan, Woynilloiwcz said, “most electric vehicles that are earmarked for the Canadian market are likely be going to be going to those two provinces,” at a time when global demand for EVs already exceeds the available supply.
Last week, Observer predicted  that 2018 would end up a breakout year for Canadian electric vehicle sales, in a post that dug into the overall statistics and the prospects for leading EV models.