The B.C. government is moving up its target date for the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
Amendments to the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act announced Tuesday will require 100 per cent of new light-duty vehicles sold in the province to be emission-free by 2035. The province previously targeted 2040 for the full transition.
“With the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act, our government was the first in the world to put an EV sales target into law,” said Josie Osborne, B.C.’s minister of energy, mines and low-carbon innovation, in a news release announcing the changes.
“British Columbia is the leader in Canada on the switch to electric vehicles, and thanks to the success we’ve seen, we’re accelerating our work so we can hit our 100 per cent EV sales target five years earlier. The actions we’re taking today will make it easier for drivers to choose electric when they make their next vehicle purchase, with even more choices available to reduce pollution and contribute to cleaner air.”
The province has “consistently exceeded” annual sales targets since the ZEV Act was introduced in 2019, according to the ministry.
As recently as July 2020, the province’s target was for zero-emission vehicles to make up “at least 10 per cent” of sales by 2025, with additional targets of 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.
In 2023, electric vehicles have made up “nearly 21 per cent” of all new light-duty passenger vehicles sold in the province, according to the ministry, more than double the original target for 2025.
The accelerated timeline announced Tuesday calls for ZEVs to make up 26 per cent of vehicle sales by 2026, with a huge jump to 90 per cent by 2030, followed by a target of 100 per cent by 2035.
“This updated ZEV target reflects the success of our measures to shift rapidly to cleaner transportation,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, in the release.
“We’re taking action to encourage a cleaner British Columbia, while making headway on CleanBC’s mission to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. These changes also support rising demand for cleaner vehicles on the roads and will make it easier for more people to choose an electric vehicle.”
Along those lines, the province says it has “recharged” its Go Electric EV Charger Rebate Program with $7 million in new funding.
The rebate program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, providing funding for homes, workplaces and multi-unit residential buildings looking to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The program’s funding ran out earlier this year due to “higher-than-anticipated demand,” according to the province, which said the program will resume accepting applications for single-family homes and workplaces on Oct. 31.
According to the federal Canada Energy Regulator, transportation is the largest emitter in the province, accounting for about 38 per cent of B.C.’s emissions.
B.C. has some of the lowest per-capita emissions in the country, at 12 tonnes of CO2-equivalent, compared to the national average of 17.7 tonnes. As of 2020, however, greenhouse gas emissions in the province had declined just three per cent from 2005 levels, according to the CER.