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Canada aiming to shift to all zero-emission electric vehicles by 2035: Federal government

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The government of Canada recently announced its plans to eliminate combustible engine-run cars and light trucks by 2035 as part of its net-zero emissions goal to limit further global warming.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in late June at a press conference over Zoom, that all new vehicles will be either electric, hybrid, or run on fuel such as hydrogen.

“We are working on strategy, the regulatory tools along with the investments that are going to be required,” Wilkinson said. “This is absolutely where the world is going.

“It’s a mandatory target.”

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Wilkinson said the plan is very ambitious but is required in order to meet the net-zero emissions standards within the Paris Climate Agreement. Other countries are also implementing similar goals such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

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“We will work with the United States to harmonize fuel efficiency regulations and we’re investing in consumer rebates, charging stations, business tax breaks, and industry transition costs,” Wilkinson said.

Wyant Group CEO Michael Wyant said currently the technology or charging stations do not exist in Saskatchewan to support a shift to just electric vehicles.

“You are going to need the infrastructure for charging vehicles similar to that as people use these vehicles,” Wyant told Global News. “A lot of big investments. The capacity for generating that much electricity doesn’t exist from clean sources today.”

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Wyant says electric vehicles that make up about one per cent of the vehicle fleet in the province (3.5 newly sold in Canada) are battery electric. He believes whatever the shift or direction the federal government wants to impose will ultimately need to gel with the consumer.

“What is the consumer going to want?” Wyant added. “As the government mandates a shift to this technology, it is affordable for the consumer, and does the consumer want this? Or do they want the option of both or a hybrid version of that?”

Wyant adds the release of more and more electric-powered vehicles every year and manufacturers continue to develop and further the non-gas-powered vehicle technology.

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Canadian research chair of climate change, energy and sustainability policy, Margot Hurlbert, said the effort to reach net-zero emissions across the country by 2050 and not selling any gas-powered vehicles in 2035 is on par with what other countries are doing and allows Canada to stay ahead of the eight balls.

“It’s really an opportunity for us ‘prosumers’ (a term we call it) for people who are very cognizant of our carbon footprint to start engaging with that for our electric vehicles.”

Former Liberal MP member and president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, Dan McTeague, said we have been toying with the idea of electric/battery cars for the last 120 years.

“In (13 or 14) years you are going to rid of combustible engines,” McTeague said. “I know it’s the trend today, but, frankly, batteries are not there yet, the science and physics demonstrate that it is not possible to replace the efficiency of a combustible engine.”

McTeague said properly disposing of old batteries and any potentially environmentally hazardous material would also be a concern.

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Wilkinson added they are following suit along with other leaders of eliminating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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“We are committed to aligning Canada’s zero-emission vehicles sales targets with those of the most ambitious North American jurisdictions.”

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Wilkinson said the government has already poured at least $600 million into a rebate program that offers consumers a break when they buy new electric vehicles in hopes to get more of them on the road.

The existing program offers buyers an upfront discount of up to either $5,000 or $2,500 and sellers then have to claim the incentives to be reimbursed.

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