Canada floats idea of North American ban on new gasoline-powered cars

FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson attends a news conference at the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 11, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada wants deeper environmental ties with the United States and one result could be a North American ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks, a senior cabinet member said on Thursday.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Ottawa and the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden both agreed zero emissions vehicles needed to be deployed faster.

Canada will discuss with the United States how to achieve this and also improve the overall performance of the transport sector, which accounts for 26% of Canadian emissions, he said in a phone interview.

Talks with Washington could cover “what the European countries and Quebec and British Columbia have done, which is to put a date at which they will no longer allow the sale of internal combustion engines,” he said.

Wilkinson stressed he would not prejudge the results of future conversations, adding: “I think we can collectively come up with mechanisms that will help both countries make progress on climate change.”

Canada, which has missed all its greenhouse gas targets, is vowing to hit zero net emissions by 2050. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says the environment is a big priority, last week said it would increase the price on carbon from C$30 a tonne now to C$170 by 2030.

In 2017, Canada said all vehicles sold starting in 2040 should produce no emissions. California and Quebec say they will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035.

Earlier this year Biden announced a climate plan that would provide incentives for manufacturers to produce zero-emission electric vehicles.

California, British Columbia and Quebec already require a certain proportion of vehicles for sale have to be emissions-free, Wilkinson said, and Ottawa wants to talk to Washington “about whether there is a North American pathway to doing something like that.”

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