Gas War Watch: Canada Sides With California
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]
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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