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Canada signs pledge for zero-emissions commercial vehicles

Canada became the first country to join an international initiative that seeks to have most new commercial vehicles be zero-emissions by 2040.

The Drive to Zero Pledge, signed by the federal government of Justin Trudeau, is non-binding. But it is consistent with the government’s policies, including carbon taxes and incentives for green investments.

“In Canada, transportation is the second largest source of emissions. As we move to a cleaner economy, we know we need to do something about that,” the Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna tweeted on June 1. British Columbia also signed the initiative.

The Drive to Zero initiative, created by the California non-profit CALSTART, covers medium and heavy-duty trucks, cargo vans and buses. It aims to bring stakeholders including governments and manufacturers together in order to facilitate the large-scale deployment of zero-emissions commercial vehicles.

“Canada is well-positioned to be among the leaders transitioning to zero-emission commercial fleets, delivering both environmental and economic benefits. We’re a big country and we move a lot of freight by truck,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank that is part of the initiative.

About 700,000 commercial trucks are registered in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has yet to formally review the initiative, but supports the adoption of zero-emissions technology, said president Stephen Laskowski, the organization’s president.

“The CTA welcomes the opportunity to work with the federal government, NGOs and suppliers of heavy trucks to build a road map towards the direction and achievable timeline of zero-emission engines,” Laskowski said. “The key to the success of this roadmap will not only be identifying viable technology but developing a technology implementation schedule that ensures the reliability of this equipment for future heavy-truck purchasers from coast-to-coast in all operating conditions and at all weight classifications.”

Canada already has a manufacturer of near zero-emissions buses and trucks, Lion Electric. Its forthcoming Lion8 Class-8 truck is positioned as an urban delivery vehicle. It also recently unveiled a garbage-truck variant.

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks will also hit the road in Alberta as part of a pilot program to test the viability for long-haul routes.

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Nate Tabak, Canada Correspondent

Nate Tabak is a journalist, editor and producer in Toronto. He covers Canada for FreightWaves, with a keen interest on the cross-border economic relationship with the United States. Nate spent seven years working as an investigative editor and reporter based in Kosovo. He covered everything from corruption to the country’s emerging wine industry. He also reported across the Balkans and investigated Albania’s multibillion-dollar marijuana industry with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Nate grew up in Berkeley, Calif. He enjoys exploring Toronto with his wife and is always looking forward to his next meal.

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