Ottawa, Queen’s Park spar over federal plan for more zero-emission vehicles
OTTAWA—The federal government says it will drive ahead with its plan to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road, as Queen’s Park lambasts the strategy after a consensus failed to materialize at a meeting of Canada’s transportation ministers in Montreal on Monday.
While federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau left the meeting touting Ottawa’s goal of seeing zero-emission vehicles account for 100 per cent of new cars sold in 2040, his counterpart from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government slammed the target as a “reckless” threat to jobs in the province.
In a statement, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said the province is focused on removing barriers to low-carbon vehicles that use propane or hydrogen, for example, instead of forcing the auto industry to sell more vehicles with zero emissions.
“Our government cannot accept the arbitrary insistence on zero-emission vehicles,” Yurek said.
“It is clear that the federal government’s insistence on zero-emission vehicles is reckless and a threat to Ontario jobs and job creators.”
Almost two years ago, Ottawa said it would work with provinces, territories and auto industry players to develop a national zero-emissions vehicle strategy by 2018. The strategy is meant to be a key part of Canada’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, which also includes the Liberal government’s carbon price.
After Monday’s meeting, Garneau’s office said Ottawa will now consider next steps to craft the already-delayed strategy without national buy-in to encourage a shift to cleaner cars in the coming years. Garneau’s office said Ottawa wants to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles sold in Canada to 10 per cent of new cars sold in 2025, 30 per cent in 2030 and 100 per cent in 2040.
“Yesterday’s discussion was a constructive, honest conversation but we were unfortunately unable to collectively reach such a definitive strategy,” said Emilie Samard, Garneau’s director of communications, in an emailed statement.
“While some raised concerns that the distinct regional characteristics of their respective provinces and territories make it difficult to commit to our robust goals, something that we are taking very seriously, others have reduced their ambitions for concrete action in this domain altogether.”
Dan Woynillowicz, policy director with Clean Energy Canada, said Ottawa’s targets are “ambitious but achievable,” given evidence that major automakers are preparing for a consumer shift toward electric vehicles in the coming years. An analysis of 29 global automakers by Reuters this month found the companies have invested at least $300 billion in electric vehicles.