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Vrooman, Guilbeault Urge ZEV Mandate, Support for Deep Energy Retrofits

A federal zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and stronger support for deep energy retrofits are the main recommendations of the federal Advisory Council on Climate Action, released during the Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver earlier this week.

“Accelerating the transition to sustainable, resilient transportation systems and buildings will be essential to meeting Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement,” write Council co-chairs Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of Vancity Credit Union, and Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of Montreal-based Équiterre. “The economic opportunities for businesses and workers in a clean economy provide a clear motivation to address remaining barriers in these sectors and effect meaningful change.”

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While “the Government of Canada alone cannot realize these opportunities,” they add, Ottawa does “have important tools that can be used to clarify and amplify promising market trends emerging in Canada and globally.”

The report, directed at Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, calls on the federal government to introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate by 2022/2023 to ensure that ZEVs account for 10% of new vehicle sales in 2025, 30% in 2030, and 100% in 2040. Ottawa should also work with “partners and stakeholders” to “develop an integrated strategy to reduce emissions across modes of transportation, including actions to support modal shifts,” states a summary on the ECCC website.

For the built environment, the panel recommends a half-dozen steps to standardize building labelling, publicly disclose the energy ratings of federal buildings, accelerate deep retrofits in the federal building stock, standardize tools to measure the results of retrofit projects, consider performance-based incentives for energy retrofits, and promote energy literacy and technology demonstration.

“There is global momentum to transition to a low-carbon economy, and strong leadership will accelerate this change,” Vrooman and Guilbeault conclude. “Creating state-of-the art buildings and transportation systems will take a whole-of-economy effort, and the private sector will need to lead both the demand for and supply of solutions.”

In a country with “many innovative companies and supportive institutions, with significant untapped potential for growth in emerging sectors and markets,” they say, “targeted government policies can send clear signals to amplify these positive trends across the market. A stronger, cleaner economy can be realized by building on successes to date and focusing on benefits to Canadian businesses and workers.”