Canada’s is the first national government to endorse a push to reduce pollution by trucks and buses
By Jennifer Hughes
Canada recently became the first country to sign the Drive to Zero pledge, an international initiative to press for the use of zero-emission technology in the medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector, which includes everything from school buses to eighteen-wheelers. It urges governments and industries to work together to transform the commercial vehicle market to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases.
In signing the pledge, Canada commits to increasing zero-emission technology in commercial vehicles. Drive to Zero has also partnered with manufacturers, fuel suppliers, fleets, and cities, including the British Columbia government and the City of Vancouver.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced Canada’s commitment to reduce emissions in the transportation sector on May 28, 2019, and was joined by an advisory council on climate action, which released a final report outlining recommendations on how Canada’s transportation sector can become more eco-friendly. It suggested implementing incentives for using electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as increasing the supply of zero-emission vehicles.
A quarter of Canada’s emissions come from transportation alone, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. In Quebec, transportation contributes 43% of emissions.
Though Canada is home to leading-edge electric bus manufacturing companies, transit agencies have been slow to adopt the vehicles, according to a report by Clean Energy Canada, a Vancouver-based think tank aimed at improving clean energy. So far, there are four electric buses in Vancouver, two in Victoria, 10 in Toronto, and 36 in Montréal. “Overall, Canada’s approach is very cautious and there isn’t a good reason for [caution],” Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith said during the pledge-signing announcement.
The Drive to Zero pledge initiative was begun in September 2018 by CALSTART, a non-profit based in California that seeks to build a clean-transportation industry. Its aim is to ensure that zero-emissions technology will be available by 2025 in smaller or “beachhead” markets, with the hope of having the technology dominate global commercial vehicle sales by 2040.