Canada’s Quebec bets on EVs, plans to ban sale of new gasoline cars

Author: Stefan Baumgarten

2020/11/17

TORONTO (ICIS)--The government of Canada’s Quebec province plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars, beginning in 2035.

“It is the government’s intention that electric vehicles (EVs) and other zero emission vehicles constitute 100% of sales of motor vehicles in 2035, and that the sale of gasoline vehicles be prohibited” from 2035, it said in its green recovery (relance verte) plan announced on Monday.

As part of the plan the Quebec government intends to invest Canadian dollar (C$) 6.7bn ($5.1bn), over five years, with the bulk of the money going toward the electrification of transport and EVs.

The push towards EVs is key in helping Quebec achieve its new target to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37.5% from 1990 levels, by 2030.

The new target comes after the province has failed to achieve a previous target of a 20% GHG emissions reduction, from 1990 levels, by end 2020, the government said.

Quebec premier (governor) Francois Legault added that he wants to position Quebec, which has big hydropower resources, as “the green battery of northeast America.”

COMMENTATORS
Commentators lauded that Legault’s conservative-leaning government puts a stress on emissions reduction from transportation, a sector with a large carbon footprint.

However, environmental groups such as Equiterre said that the government funding, on its own, was too little to achieve the planed emissions reduction.

Other commentators said that Quebec’s move could put pressure on the other provinces to take similar steps.

At the same time, Canada’s federal government, which is supportive of building up EV manufacturing capacity in Canada, may step in with a federal ban on gasoline and diesel vehicles, commentators said.

Notably, Quebec's plan comes as in the US President-elect Joe  Biden has promised an ambitious environmental agenda - including net-zero emissions of GHGs by 2050, and a speeding up of the adoption of EVs.

Also, in the UK officials plan to ban sales of all new diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

The auto sector is an important end market for Canada’s chemical industry, and the EV battery materials sector is opening up new opportunities for chemicals.

Petrochemicals can make up more than one-third of the raw material cost of an average vehicle.

At the same time, the Quebec ban would reduce gasoline demand, thus affecting refining operations in Quebec and other provinces, including availability of chemicals and feedstock refineries produce.

Officials at Canada’s refining industry trade group, the Canadian Fuels Association, were not immediately available for comment on how the ban on new gasoline cars could impact the refining sector.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood

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Thumbnail image: Map of Canada and Quebec, in blue

($1 = C$1.31)