Québec leads the way with its zero-emission vehicle standard

Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change
Reading time: 3 minutes
16 February 2018

Under2 Coalition member government Québec is at the forefront of the fight against climate change, through initiatives such as its Carbon Market, Green Fund and International Climate Cooperation Program. Recently, Québec became the first Canadian province to adopt a Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard. In this guest blog Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, explain how the legislation is part of a far-reaching plan to make Québec a leader in electric-powered transportation and a pioneer in sustainable mobility.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Québec has played a vital role in Canada and North America in developing solutions to fight climate change. It was the first province to establish a carbon market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and finance the measures contained in its 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan (2013-2020 CCAP). Québec has also taken groundbreaking steps to reduce its transportation-related emissions – its primary source of GHGs. Indeed, improving this situation was a priority for Québec in order to reduce its carbon footprint and ensure the health of Quebecers.

Our government is therefore investing heavily in the transportation sector to support public transit, promote energy efficiency and technological innovation in all modes of transport and giving ever-increasing importance to energies that emit lower levels of GHGs. Québec benefits from clean, renewable hydroelectricity, a reliable electricity grid and an innovative industrial sector. This being the case, Québec is now naturally focusing on transportation electrification and has made it a key measure in its climate action.

Since 2011, Québec has implemented a number of policies and legislative measures to electrify its transportation. These include the 2015-2020 Transportation Electrification Action Plan, aimed at increasing the number of ZEVs registered in Québec to 100,000 by 2020 in addition to fostering the development of this sector. To this end, a series of government measures have been launched, such as rebates on electric vehicle purchases, financial assistance for installing charging stations at home and at work, the development of a network of charging stations across all regions of Québec, and other benefits for driving a zero-emission vehicle, including free passage over toll bridges. These initiatives have had positive results, as evidenced by the fact that Québec accounts for almost 50% of the electric vehicles on Canada’s roads.

Last December, Québec achieved a major milestone in its move to transportation electrification by adopting a zero-emission vehicle standard – a significant and even essential measure for reaching Québec’s greenhouse gas emission objectives. The new standard, which entered into force on January 11, will afford Québec consumers access to a wider range of ZEVs and will give further impetus to purchasing electric vehicles in Québec.

The Québec standard draws largely on ZEV standards currently in force in ten US states, including California, New York, Vermont and Maine, that are based on a credit system calculated on new light vehicle sales and leases by manufacturers. One of the distinguishing features of the Québec regulations is that they will also make used vehicles that are reconditioned by automakers and registered in Québec for the first time eligible for credits. This option was included in the regulations to provide low-income households in Québec with the opportunity to choose zero-emission vehicles.

The adoption of the ZEV standard marks a huge step forward in achieving Québec’s environmental and economic objectives. In addition to promoting the reduction of polluting emissions, the ZEV standard will reduce our dependence on oil and help improve Québec’s trade balance. Moreover, as a result of the revenue from the carbon market, Québec is also taking action to develop various aspects of the electrification industry – a promising niche for modernizing Québec’s economy and creating highly skilled jobs.

The ZEV standard is an eloquent illustration of Québec’s desire to contribute to the global effort to fight climate change outlined in the Paris Agreement and to support the development and international promotion of transportation electrification. Our partnerships with the Under 2 Coalition and the International ZEV Alliance, for example, help facilitate the advancement of transportation electrification and highlight the expertise and leadership of federated states!

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