Not only is greater Vancouver the only area of the country where one can currently lease Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, but the city itself is taking the aggressive step to stamp out all fossil fuel emissions within its borders. In Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced the introduction of an emissions-targeting cap-and-trade system, to align with similar systems in Quebec and California, which is expected to slightly raise the price of gas for Ontario motorists (estimated at 2–3.5 cents per litre in the province of Quebec).
These are just two examples of the increasing influence of so-called sub-national governments in fighting climate change, which increasingly affect not only what we pay at the pump with our current cars, but also the vehicles offered for sale in our city, province or country.
This push for emissions reductions contrasts with what is happening at the federal level in Canada. After failing to adhere to its binding emissions reduction commitments under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, it became the first and only nation to formally remove itself from the international agreement a year before its 2012 extension, then arguing that it would align its targets with the U.S. A month after the U.S. announced in March it will aim for 26-28 percent GHG reductions by 2025, relative to 2005 levels, Stephen Harper confirmed that Canada would likely not meet (or aim for) the same targets, though was quoted in The Globe and Mail saying that “additional regulatory emissions reduction measures” were coming.
What those measures will look like is still unclear, though it seems very unlikely it will result in a carbon tax, which is what British Columbia implemented in 2008, or a gasoline tax, which both Vancouver and Montreal drivers pay at the pump. In Vancouver’s case, these measures have contributed to the highest per capita hybrid and EV ownership rates in the country, suggesting that even policies at the local government level can make a difference as to how and what vehicles consumers and businesses choose to buy.
Other major international cities have also pledged to make major emissions reductions that could influence the driving fleet across continental Europe. In Paris, the mayors of 26 major European cities gathered last month to announce that they are forming a coordinated plan to reduce emissions, including increasing the use of electrified vehicles, as well as increased car and bike sharing. The mayors of Paris, Berlin, Madrid, London, Stockholm, Lisbon, Vienna, Amsterdam and 18 other cities pledged to work together to share information and best practices on various green car incentives, such as traffic-calming measures, prioritizing public transit, while reducing emissions from its buildings as well as its vehicles.