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50 Shades of Electric Vehicles Policy


Nothing. It’s the building block of all mathematics, from which numbers begin.

It’s also the current state of federal policy on electric vehicles in Canada. The BCSEA wants to change that and start adding some numbers, and we are seeking fifty volunteers to help us do so.

Five years after the government-funded Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap for Canada recommended adopting a goal of 500,000 EVs by 2018, nothing has been done to advance their take-up.

There is a federal election coming, however, and just as the climate crisis is a top issue demanding federal leadership, a coherent climate platform must include strong measures to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, which produces 28% of Canada’s carbon pollution.

A shift from to electric vehicles combined with a shift to renewable electricity could go far to reduce those emissions, while also reducing the harmful health impacts caused by air pollution.

The BCSEA is seeking 50 volunteers to help put EVs on the agenda for this year’s federal election. We want to generate a ‘race to the top’ among the parties, so that the next government will have made strong promises to support electric vehicles, and be armed with the best policies to take to Paris for the big UN climate talks.

What Might an Ideal Electric Vehicles Policy Include?

  1. Adopt the vision of the Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap for Canada,  and establish a goal to see 500,000 EVs on the road by 2024, and the full conversion of Canada’s light-duty vehicle fleet to EVs by 2040.
  2. Establish a High-Level Electric Vehicles Task Force dedicated to making Canada EV-friendly.
  3. Require Canada’s auto-industry to reduce vehicle fleet CO2 emissions standards from the current 153 grams CO2 per km by 2016 to the EU goal of 95g CO2/km by 2020, and zero grams by 2040.
  4. Match US EV incentives and tax breaks, equivalent to US $7,500 per vehicle. This would cost $750 million over 5 years for 100,000 vehicles, plus support for more charging stations.
  5. Apply a CO2 emissions scale to the federal sales tax for new and used vehicles, with a lower rate of tax on efficient vehicles being cross-financed by a higher rate of tax on inefficient vehicles.
  6. Seek a continental agreement with the United States and Mexico for the transformation of North American vehicle industry to zero carbon transportation.

What do Canada’s Political Parties Have to Offer?

The Conservative Party website does not address transportation or EVs. Information on the Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada websites suggest that the government’s support for EVs is primarily in the form of information and coordination, with some research, and some funding for EV charging infrastructure. The prime minister has said that Canada would harmonize its climate policies with the US. Logically, therefore, the government should match the US EV incentive of up to $7,500, which has encouraged the sale of 290,000 electric vehicles. Canada’s EV total sales by January 2014 were just 6,000.

The NDP’s Policy Book makes no mention of electric vehicles, but they believe in “investing in the development of “green cars”.  

The Liberals’ Transport Policy also makes no mention of electric vehicles, but they have resolved “to propose an integrated, intermodal national transportation strategy, that serves large and small communities, within two years of taking office.” 

The Green Party's Vision Green has an extensive policy which includes working with the motor industry, provinces and others to develop a sustainable vehicles strategy leading to an 85% reduction in emissions by 2040; requiring a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from new vehicles by 2020 and 90% by 2025; and offering rebates up to $5,000 for the purchase of the most efficient vehicles, financed by fees on the inefficient vehicles. (By way of disclosure, I contributed extensively to the Green Party’s Climate Policy seven years ago, including EV policies.)

Fifty Volunteers…

We are seeking fifty people who will join our BCSEA Electric Vehicles Policy Letter-Writing Team, and undertake to write a personal letter to one or more of the people listed below, seeking support for a strong EV policy. Each letter will be different - hence fifty shades of policy.

Would you be willing join our team? If you can, email Tom Hackney, the BCSEA Policy Director, at thackney@bcsea.org, and send us a copy of any letter you write (it helps us to know how successful our efforts are).

Would you be willing join our team? To do so, please send us an email to info@bcsea.org

People to write to:

For our EV Policy Background Paper, see HERE, and the attachment below.