In this week’s release of its enhanced provincial climate roadmap, the B.C. government unveiled an array of measures to accelerate carbon emissions cuts — including action on cars, trucks, fuel standards and new rebates for EV chargers
British Columbia is locking itself into a cleaner future with the release of this week’s revised climate action strategy. The 2021 version of the province’s original 2018 plan holds new and more ambitious goals that will respond to the climate crises and ensure 2030 emissions reduction and 2050 net-zero emissions targets are met.
The plan — entitled the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 — now includes a new 100 per cent zero emissions light-duty vehicles’ sales target by 2035. While that aligns with the federal government’s national targets, the province also introduced new interim targets that are even more ambitious.
The roadmap also includes a more stringent revision to the provincial low carbon fuel standard and commitments that will increase the pricing on carbon pollution, require all new buildings to be zero-carbon by 2030 and incorporate actions that will encourage the adoption of more active and public transportation.
“Here in B.C., the threat of climate change is no longer decades or even years away. The impacts are all around us, from devastating wildfires to intense heat waves and droughts,” said Premier John Horgan in a press release.
“The scale of the climate emergency demands that we act with even greater urgency than ever before. By bringing people and businesses together, we can rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient B.C. for everyone. That’s what this plan is all about.”
Doubling down on light-duty adoption
Under the province’s previous climate plan, the proposed timeline for new ZEV sales targets was 10 per cent by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.
But B.C. is already five years ahead of its original target. Zero-emission vehicles accounted for 9.4 per cent of all new light-duty vehicle sales in 2020, according to the CleanBC roadmap, and more than 60,000 light-duty EVs are currently registered in the province.
In response to, as well as aligning with the binding federal target of 100 per cent ZEV sales by 2035, the province added new interim targets that are the most aggressive in North America — 26 per cent by 2026 and 90 per cent by 2030.
In addition, the roadmap also outlines a strategy to simultaneously expand B.C.’s charging network by building a total of 10,000 public EV charging stations by 2030 and by completing its “electric highway” to ensure EV drivers have access to broad coverage of charging sites by summer 2024.
“By working with all sectors, we can see clearly where we are making progress and where new thinking and resources are required,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy in press materials.
“The CleanBC Roadmap puts greater focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels faster and adopting clean energy solutions.”
B.C.’s current public charging network includes more than 2,500 stations throughout the province.
New rebates for EV charger installations
In alignment with the CleanBC revised measures, the provincial government this week announced rebates to help purchase and install EV chargers in homes and workplaces through the CleanBC Go Electric EV Charger Program.
As part of the province’s 2021 Budget, the program received $10 million in funding to provide rebates of up to 50 per cent of costs to a maximum of $2,000 per charger in condominiums, apartments and workplaces. Single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes can also apply for charger rebates to a maximum of $350.
Customers will also receive up to five hours of free support services from EV charging station advisers for condominiums, apartments and workplaces to help navigate the whole process from “idea to installation,” according to the press release.
“People in British Columbia are switching to electric vehicles in record numbers as part of the transition to a cleaner, better transportation system,” said Heyman.
“We’re making it more affordable to own an electric vehicle and charging station.”
Targets for trucks coming
In Canada, the transportation sector is the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to an Environment and Climate Change Canada report. Under the new plan, the B.C. government is aiming to reduce transportation emissions by up to 32 per cent from 2007 levels, by 2030.
One way the government plans to accomplish this is by expanding its low carbon fuel standard, which requires fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel they sell.
By 2030, the BC government will raise its low carbon fuel standard for gasoline and diesel from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. The province will also begin including aviation and marine fuels in its plan in 2023.
With heavy-duty vehicles making up for a large part of transportation emissions, the province has no mandated targets set yet but says it will consult with automakers, businesses and industry to come up with ZEV sales targets for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2023 as well.
According to the roadmap, B.C. will be looking to align with California’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicle adoption target. Through an executive order made in 2020, the Golden State pledges to “develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible.”
Elsewhere in the U.S., 15 states and the District of Columbia signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that aims to make 100 per cent of new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sales zero emission by 2050, with an interim target of 30 per cent ZEV sales by 2030.
The states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont. Last month, Quebec also joined this coalition.
As part of Quebec’s 2030 Plan for a Green Economy, the government is in the process of defining a standard for heavy-duty vehicles. Once that is achieved, the province expects to reach its targets to electrify 55 per cent of city buses and 65 per cent of school buses by 2030.