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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Masimira

Charging Up! Deconstructing Canada’s 2035 EV Target.

How achievable is the zero-emission target?

Image courtesy of Car and Driver of the highly anticipated Lexus LFA EV

For years on end, I always imagined that someday I would be seated at the wheel of the exotic Maserati GranTurismo, championed by the earsplitting sound of the Italian V8. We all have dreams. I have always been passionate about the automotive industry. My childhood was spent with my father and I watching Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May belting across Europe and North America on the show Top Gear in the latest gas-guzzling supercar.

In June, the Liberal government, through Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, announced that by 2035 (originally 2040), all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in Canada would be zero-emission vehicles. However, according to Joanna Kyriazis, a senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, “electric vehicles comprise about 3 to 4 percent of car sales in Canada, which is 6 percent off the 2025 goal.” As cited by Omar Alghabra, the government has poured copious amounts of money in the region of $600 million into their rebate program to incentivize consumers to purchase more electric vehicles. This entails a partial refund of around $5,000 on purchasing new electric cars under $55,000.

Image courtesy of Tesla

No matter how you look at it, we are in a climate emergency, and the introduction of electric and hybrid vehicle technologies is essential to help lower emissions. The transportation sector—are responsible for 27% of the 730 megatons (Mt) of greenhouse gases. Despite the ambitious target, there seem to be question marks around how Canada will achieve zero emissions by 2050, especially considering that transportation is not solely responsible for Canada’s Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Do I think the transportation sector is an easy target for Canadian officials? Yes, absolutely. The elephant in the room is responsible for at least 10 percent of Canada’s economy, and there has been no pledge to address oil and gas production. Politicians are trying to garner popularity with the masses by spotlighting internal combustion engines and alleviating themselves of the pressures around the Trans Mountain Project Expansion. The impact that this will have on the environment is massive, with the incredibly open possibility of oil spills, threatens the eco-systems, and, most importantly, increases greenhouse gas emissions, which will only contribute to the climate emergency. This expansion is also likely to lead to an increase in tanker traffic too. Suppose this expansion is based on the potential demand for oil and gas in the future. Wouldn’t the transportation sector, one of the primary benefactors of that expansion, render the use of those resources obsolete in 15 years? Emissions are a globalized issue, and Canada are playing their part, but oil and gas hinder their progress.

If the federal and provincial governments are set to stick with a timeline in tune with the environmentally concerned nations, you would assume a concrete plan is in place. Have they taken into consideration consumer habits? There is an argument that this ban could prompt people to purchase more gas-powered vehicles before they go extinct. It is unclear what the government intends to do to accelerate EV adoption because 2035 may seem far away, but many companies need to integrate these changes into their strategy. It would be irresponsible, at best, for respective manufacturers not to plan for this future, but that does not prevent Ford from producing 5.0-liter V8 motors for the best-selling car in Canada, the F-Series.

Image courtesy of Capital Ford Lincoln

We must look for solutions that give us hope that we are doing as much as we can to help the global climate emergency. Otherwise, the government are aimlessly dictating what happens to the transportation sector when people like me are going to miss the days of gas-powered vehicles. One of those solutions could be creating public-private partnerships that ensure the government is working hand in hand with the private sector to alleviate the pressures of those transitions and manage the expectations. The government wants us to make the transition to electric vehicles. We need to see a greater separation between the cooperation associated with the pipeline expansion and government policy because it contradicts the emissions target. Offer the public better incentives and subsidies for the companies that will prove imperative during the transition. I’m not opposed to this ban, but rather, I’ve had to re-align my goals that better represents the future of our climate and the automotive industry. However, the government needs to take greater responsibility, be more transparent about the policies they are set to impose, by showing us that these changes are not being made in vain.

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