Gas War Watch: Canada Sides With California

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Canada’s federal government announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with California to further reduce vehicle emissions. It would appear that the United States’ neighbor to the north has chosen a side in the gas war — at least spiritually.

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom, announced the agreement’s signing on Wednesday.

“As the world’s fifth-largest economy and a global leader in clean transportation, California is a leading example of how climate action can be good for people, the environment and the economy,” McKenna said. “We look forward to working with California to fight climate change, keep the air clean and give drivers better options for cleaner, more affordable vehicles.”

Like the United States, Canada’s federal government is supposed to be reviewing its vehicle emission’s plan right now. But, while the U.S. situation has resulted in a stalemate dictated almost entirely by political allegiances, Canada seems wholly committed toward further reducing automotive emissions.

Until recently, the nation was aligned with U.S. emission targets and adopted Obama-era fueling regulations in 2012. However, the Trump administration’s proposal of a rollback created enough hubbub for it to reconsider that position. McKenna now says that Canada will no longer seek parity with the United States and intends to back California while acknowledging that the situation was not ideal. She also referenced the possibility of California setting its own emission standards, something the U.S. federal government opposes, saying “it looks like there will be two standards in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Governor Newsom claimed that the reduction of greenhouse gases was “essential to [California’s] economic growth and prosperity,” adding “If you want to see if climate change is real, come to California. See what we’ve just come through in the past few years … Something big is happening. Mother Nature has joined the conversation.”

Automakers have universally come out against the dual-market solution, urging all sides to compromise wherever possible. On Tuesday, four U.S. House lawmakers led by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) once again asked California and the Trump administration to meet and try to reach an agreement that would maintain nationwide rules. Unfortunately, California and the federal government don’t seem interested in cooperating anymore.

“It’s not looking very good at the moment,” California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, who also signed the memorandum, said on a Wednesday conference call with the media. She was responding to a question as to whether or not California could find common ground with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Obama-era rules stipulate a crawling, fleet-wide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, compared with the 37 mpg freeze the Trump administration has proposed — claiming it aligns better with consumer trends and market realities.

While little more than a gentleman’s agreement, the memorandum between California and Canada seeks to go above and beyond maintaining previously established targets while publicly acknowledging their shared goals. In addition to the (presumably important) emotional support and sense of camaraderie, the pair plan to collaborate on regulations aimed at reducing emissions, the promotion zero-emission vehicles, and have promised to work together on clean-fuel alternatives.

Canada is working toward having 100 percent of all light-duty vehicles sold within its borders to qualify as “zero-emissions vehicles” by 2040. It’s also offering rebates of up to $5,000 for qualifying ZEVs and additional tax incentives for businesses that want to shift into using to zero-emission fleets. Canada is also developing a “Clean Fuel Standard” that is supposed to reduce air pollution by 30 million tons in 2030.

Meanwhile, California has set aside $238 million of its 2019 budget for incentives for the purchase of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. It’s currently receiving support from other states in the gas war and Newsom said he’s actively trying to get them to adopt California’s stricter standards.

[Image: Jim Barber/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 27, 2019

    @highdesertcat--Many times the best decision is to scrap. Does sound like you got a lot of use out of your motor home. I still have my 99 S-10 but it only has 119k miles which I will give to my nephew when I am finished with it. Never thought I would keep a vehicle 20 years but I don't drive as much as I use to and it has been very reliable. Here's some links to the 2007 million mile Tundra if you haven't already seen them

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jun 27, 2019

      Jeff S, that’s what we decided as well, better to scrap. My dad bought it new in 1974, got some use out of it until my mom died of cancer, and after my dad died my brothers and I used it, improved it, and nurtured it until it could be nurtured no more. I felt bad because it happened on MY watch, especially after ALL the work my brother’s step-son in Scottsdale had done to the exterior, paint job, chrome highlights, additional lighting, etc.. And speaking of your S10, my BFF kept his S10 Tahoe Ext Cab 2WD for 27 years until the transmission had only ONE speed forward (2nd gear) and reverse. So now he’s looking to buy his last pickup truck of his driving life, and had invited me to go with him to look at the various offering out there, and to be of counsel in his decision-making. I warned him I was very much Pro-Tundra, and why, and he knows that because he has borrowed my Tundras plenty of times in the past. His wife prefers the 2019 Silverado LT/RST/LTZ but our local GM dealer just needs too much money for them. He and I will be going to Bravo in Las Cruces whenever we can get together. After that, Mission in El Paso, and ultimately we’ll go to Galles in Albuquerque if we need to. My BFF really does want to buy something his wife likes, and he doesn’t care what he drives, as long as it is new, has a factory warranty, has four doors, Power driver seat, Trailer Package with Hitch and is in Silver Ice Metallic. He and I can mount the Side Steps/Running Boards.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 28, 2019

    @highdesertcat--You definitely got your and your father's moneys worth out of that motor home. I do understand the sentiment in keeping it--I had my mother's 84 5th Avenue for years but after 200k miles the electric windows were going along with the electrical system and the engine need an overhaul. The car itself still looked like new. It does sound like you friend needs a new vehicle and he got his money's worth out of that S-10. I understand pleasing the wife--"happy wife, happy life." I myself don't care much for the new Silverado even though I have owned GM products for years and the Tundra is a long lasting and hard to kill truck. If you looked at those links I posted about the 1 million mile Tundra that truck did not look like it had a million miles and it was far from being babied. My wife wants my neighbors 2012 Lacrosse which has 40k miles and has been well maintained (still looks brand new). The neighbor has been looking at Subaru Foresters and is about to pull the trigger but wants the Buick to go since he has 2 other vehicles. I asked for first dibs on the Lacrosse and if I get it I will give my S-10 to my nephew who is retired from the Coast Guard and wants it because it has a manual and he likes it (I more than got my money out of that S-10 and it still runs and looks like new). My nephew has a 2014 Cummins Ram Laramie dully which still looks like new. I still have regrets in selling my grandfathers 63 IH 1,000 step side pickup which I later found out my nephew wanted and he is now trying to locate to buy. I should have kept the IH and given it to him since it was all original and only 58k miles (still ran and looked good). Would have been good to keep it in the family since he now has a home on the family farm and space to keep it and the S-10.

  • MrIcky Worrying about mileage is for poors.
  • ToolGuy A 'true' Volvo (pre Ford Motor Company). I would buy this and drive it for 3 years until I can get one of them 'Chinese' EV things. But I'm offering $1,850 against your $3,700 because you couldn't be bothered to pull it outside for pictures. 😉 And I will stick close to home with this one -- no road trips.In related news (Relevant and Connected!!): My new dishwasher is Swedish -- little outfit called Frigidaire, you may have heard of them. (On order, should be here in March)
  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT Let me get this straight-It's OK for GM to make cars in China and ship them here-under a Buick name. But for the Chinese to directly do it is not OK.If the Big 3 had not a deserted sedans/low end of the market they wouldn't have anything to worry about.Yea...makes perfect sense.
  • Analoggrotto This must look great in your Tellurides
  • Dukeisduke Meanwhile in the EU, they're inviting Chinese manufacturers to build assembly plants there, especially in Italy. FIAT cut back production in Italy from one million vehicles a year, to 750,000, so the Italian government wants the Chinese plants for the jobs they'll create. They've contacted BYD about building a plant, but so far, BYD has only committed to building a plant in Hungary. A second plant in the EU will depend on demand for vehicles.