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Zero emission vehicles, but no plan to get there yet

A Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 spotted driving past a wind farm. This model of car is Tesla's fourth-generation Roadster vehicle (via Wikimedia Commons).

The Pembina Institute today welcomed the province's joining a gobal coalition for emission-free vehicles in Paris but warned that there is still much work to do before that vision is realized in B.C.

Matt Horne, B.C. associate regional director for the Pembina Institute, said that Victoria still had to enact policies to rapidly transition the province from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles to electric and other zero-emission options.

"Fortunately, such policies are found in the package of recommendations from B.C.’s Climate Leadership Team. Recommendations such as implementing a zero-emission vehicle standard and increasing the carbon tax would ensure British Columbians have affordable zero-emission vehicles they can choose from. Without the policies, the transition will not happen," said Horne, who is also on the province's Climate Leadership Team.

Currently, the price tag of a cheaper Tesla electric car is about US$80,000. More advanced models are selling for roughly US$130,000. Under B.C.'s Clean Energy Vehicle Program  electric vehicle buyers can access point-of-sale incentives of more than CAD$8,200.

Four years after B.C.'s government first rolled out the CEVP, there are less than 2,000 electric vehicles on the road province-wide.

However, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said that for zero-emissions vehicles to truly take off, Victoria would need to invest in charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway and every community would also need easy access to one.

Already, B.C. has Canada's largest public-charging network for electric vehicles at more than 1,000 outlets.

"The goal of having all new passenger vehicles be zero emission by mid-century would represent a very positive transformation," said Horne.

B.C. is now the 14th member of the International Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance that also includes Germany, Holland, Norway, the United Kingdom, the U.S states of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the province of Quebec.

According to the B.C government, all new passenger vehicles in ZEV Alliance jurisdictions will be emissions-free by 2050.

Reaching this goal could reduce the transportation sector's climate footprint by more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year by mid-century. This will include a global vehicle emissions reduction of about 40 percent.

ZEVs in use today include battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.

"Transportation represents over a third of B.C.’s total provincial greenhouse gas emissions, and nearly half the emissions by the average B.C. family. As a member of this international alliance we will work with other governments and partners and at home in British Columbia to increase the adoption of ZEVs and reduce tailpipe emissions, helping us fulfil our international climate action responsibilities,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak in Paris on Dec. 10.

With files from the Canadian Press

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