VICTORIA—British Columbia has joined a global alliance aiming to fill highways and city streets with zero-emission vehicles over the next 35 years, an initiative that could lower global vehicle emissions by 40 per cent.
Environment Minister Mary Polak signed an agreement in Paris at the United Nations climate talks Thursday, making B.C. the 14th member of the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance.
B.C. joins Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, along with California and seven other states in pledging to ensure all new vehicles are zero-emissions models by 2050.
Quebec also signed the pledge, which could cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the global transportation sector by one billion tonnes a year.
B.C.’s Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the province already has the largest public-charging network in Canada for electric vehicles at more than 1,000 outlets, but more can be done.
So far, there are less than 2,000 electric vehicles on the road in B.C., he said.
“How do you get more people doing it?” Bennett said. “You have to show them that they can save a lot of money on not having to buy fossil fuels and you have to make it easy for them to charge their vehicle.”
B.C. introduced its Clean Energy Vehicle Program four years ago. It offers electric vehicle buyers point-of-sale incentives of more than $8,200. The program also invests in charging infrastructure improvements.
“You continue to provide incentives at this stage and we’ll have to do that for at least the next decade,” Bennett said. “If this is going to work, we’re going to have to invest in charging stations all along the Trans-Canada Highway. Every community is going to have to have convenient access to charging.”
“We’re a long ways from that, but that’s where it’s going to have to go.”
One of the lowest-price Tesla electric vehicles currently sells for about US$80,000 while other Tesla models list for about US$130,000.