Canada signs global agreement targeting 100 per cent zero-emission truck and bus sales by 2040
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Nov 9, 2021
Mehanaz Yakub

On Transport Day at COP26, 15 nations commit to accelerating the shift towards zero emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, targeting 30 per cent new ZEV sales by 2030 and 100 per cent new ZEV sales by 2040

Kenworth’s T680E electric truck. Courtesy Kenworth.

On Transport Day at COP26, 15 nations commit to accelerating the shift towards zero emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, targeting 30 per cent new ZEV sales by 2030 and 100 per cent new ZEV sales by 2040

Canada is joining several countries, subnational governments and vehicles manufacturers in signing a Memorandum of Understanding initiated by CALSTART’s Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero initiative. The agreement sets targets of 100 per cent new sales for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty truck and bus fleets by 2040 and 30 per cent new sales by 2030.

The zero-emission truck and bus MoU was announced at the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Scotland.

The full list of countries committing to the 2030/2040 targets includes Austria, Chile, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Uruguay and Wales.

“For the first time we have a unified target, supported by leading governments and industry, for when new trucks and buses should fully transition to zero-emission technologies,” said Dr. Cristiano Façanha, CALSTART’s global director in a press statement about the COP26 zero-emission truck pledge.

“Globally, freight trucks and buses represent about four per cent of the on-road fleet globally but are responsible for 36 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and over 70 per cent of nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to local air pollution. This makes trucks and buses a very effective target for fast decarbonization.”

The MoU was proposed by American non-profit CALSTART and the Netherlands government.

“For too long our medium- and heavy-duty vehicles were too difficult to decarbonize. But technology is improving fast and costs are reducing quickly. So now is the time to speed up,” said Steven van Weyenberg, minister for the environment of the Netherlands, in a press statement.

“…I call on other countries to join our effort as soon as possible.”

New interim zero-emission truck and bus targets

The CALSTART MoU will be the first time a global agreement has been made to accelerate the shift to electrify medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, with the aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Earlier this year, as part of its 2021 election platform, the federal Liberal party pledged to require 100 per cent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sales to be zero emission by 2040, where feasible. Now, as part of this agreement, the Canadian government is also working toward an interim 2030 target.

“If you are looking to electrify the sector, it’s really important to have performance targets and there need to be interim targets. We need accountability measures to make sure that every year we’re hitting those targets,” says Carolyn Kim, national transportation director at Pembina Institute in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. 

For commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses, it has been a challenge to electrify these fleets because they are still part of emerging technology and energy systems. There is also a lack of infrastructure in Canada to support them, said Kim.  

But moving forward, Kim added, the federal government will need to take up leadership and create a national zero-emission vehicles strategy for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“There isn’t one yet and so it’s really important that we establish a national strategy with national-level policies and regulations,’ says Kim. “Now is all about implementation.”

Quebec also a signatory to first-ever agreement

Along with the federal government, Quebec is a subnational signatory to CALSTART’s COP26 zero-emission truck and bus MoU. Quebec has made its presence known at the climate conference, likely with the hope of positioning the province as a leader in the fight against the climate crisis in North America.

In a statement included in the MoU press materials, Benoit Charette, Quebec’s minister of the environment and the fight against climate change said, “[Quebec] already committed to banning the sale of new gasoline vehicles from 2035, and are aiming for 30 per cent new heavy-duty vehicles sold in Quebec being zero emissions by 2030, while making every effort to reach 100 per cent as soon as possible.”

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