Ottawa unveils plan to reduce heavy duty truck GHG emissions

by Canadian Shipper

BOUCHERVILLE, Que. – Canada’s Environment Minister, Peter Kent, announced proposed regulations Friday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new on-road heavy-duty vehicles.

The proposed regulations are designed to reduce emissions from the whole range of on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines, including large pick-up trucks, short/long-haul tractors, cement and garbage trucks, buses, and more, for the 2014 model year and beyond. As a result of implementing the proposed standards, it is anticipated that greenhouse gas emissions from 2018 heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by up to 23% from those sold in 2010.

Kent said the new regulations can be met by using existing technologies for fuel efficiency, aerodynamics and idle-reduction.

The proposed regulations are also designed to be in alignment with those of the US.

“Canada and the United States have a deeply integrated automotive industry and there are significant environmental and economic benefits to aligning our emission standards for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles,” said Kent. “Today’s announcement means that, by the year 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from Canada’s heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by 3 million tonnes per year. This is equivalent to removing 650,000 personal vehicles from the road.”

Canada previously worked closely with the United States to establish common North American standards for greenhouse gas emissions regulations for light-duty vehicles for the 2011-2016 model years, and is working towards proposed regulations for model years 2017 and beyond.

The response from the Canadian Trucking Alliance was favorable. CTA President David Bradley said the  announcement is consistent with the direction the industry is already headed in. 

“It would be advisable that the regulations allow for some flexibility to take into account differences in the Canadian truck market versus the situation in the U.S., but the industry supports this initiative,” Bradley said.  “The way you reduce GHGs is through improved fuel efficiency and with diesel prices continuing to increase year by year, motor carriers are motivated to burn less. In fact, at no time in our industry’s history have our companies environmental goals been so aligned with society’s desire to reduce GHGs.”

Under the proposed regulations heavy truck tractor and engine OEMs will be encouraged to meet average GHG emission targets as a percentage of their total fleet sales over the 2014-18 period. Compliance measures in the United States will include a system of bankable and tradable credits and possibly penalties. The regulations will not deal with existing tractors. Nor will they cover existing or new trailers, although the US Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it could regulate GHG emissions caused by trailer drag in 2018.

It is hoped that by model year 2018, GHG emissions from new heavy trucks will be 20 per cent less than 2010 models. “That would be a good thing,” said Bradley. “But time will tell whether the market will respond.”

He said CTA has been encouraging the Canadian government to accompany the regulation with a labelling system identifying “GHG compliant tractors” and accelerated capital cost allowance to speed up the penetration of those trucks into the marketplace. “The regulation is flexible in that it does not prescribe what has to be done to reach the GHG reduction targets as was the case with the smog emissions mandate,” he said. “That is not a bad thing since the trucking industry is not homogenous in terms of the type of equipment used to transport various commodities, the terrain, etc., but it does not provide the truck buyer with an Energy Star type labelling system identifying the most fuel efficient product.”

Reducing emissions from the transportation sector is integral to Ottawa’s overall climate change strategy for Canada. The strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Transportation is responsible for 24% of Canada’s GHG emissions.

The proposed regulations, which are subject to a 60-day public consultation period, have been  published in the Canada Gazette .

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