Canada and provinces want US to buy electric cars to ease trade woes

The Canadian government is willing to “align” tax-incentive programs with its American counterpart to make it easier for companies to deploy electric vehicles, federal and provincial environment ministers announced.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Quebec City, Canadian federal environment minister Catherine McKenna and her provincial counterparts of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba said they are working on a package of actions “with an eye to aligning what we’re doing in the context of the United States” as part of the “Beyond the Grid” initiative which they are launching.

Among the executive actions being announced are allowing provinces to provide accelerated tax credits for people who buy electric vehicles, an increase in Ontario’s zero-emission car infrastructure, and a new series of calls for proposals for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Governments are trying to build a picture of how low-carbon vehicles and electricity mix will play into future policy before the change in the United States under Donald Trump.

We’re making sure that Canadians have the choice to choose electric vehicles Catherine McKenna

“We are trying to make sure that Canadians have the choice to choose electric vehicles,” McKenna said. “But we have to be careful that the programs we’re setting up don’t put us in a situation where suddenly those companies that can’t sell in the United States or are limited by the quota system, but they can sell to California, for example, are at risk, which would then put up those renewable energy costs.”

“I think the second point is just ensuring that there is a market that covers us going forward, and beyond that, making sure we’re getting this globally connected market that allows we to thrive.”

Canada has pledged to invest $10bn in clean technology and innovation between now and 2020.

Acting on commitments

Ontario’s environment minister Rod Phillips, who represents South Lake Louise in Alberta, said Canada’s energy and economy sectors are “one of the greatest draws” that Canada has to attract workers as they look to relocate and work in the oil and gas sector or other sectors in Alberta.

We are committed to funding the retrofitting of retrofitted buildings with battery storage for residential and commercial applications Natural Resources Canada

“Canadian workers want a future where cleaner, low-carbon-energy technology can be delivered,” he said. “They want their government to address climate change – and so we will have to maintain our commitment to fund the retrofitting of retrofitted buildings with battery storage for residential and commercial applications. This is one of the most visible, can-do strategies to address the climate challenge.”

Natural Resources Canada, which is part of the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said it will do more to increase the number of projects that will receive funding through its Clean Technology Challenge Fund.

The fund has received more than 350 applications so far and announced $20m in funding for 133 projects, both in Ontario and in Alberta.

“We’re committed to funding the retrofitting of retrofitted buildings with battery storage for residential and commercial applications,” said Martin Olszynski, director of the Canadian Renewable Energy Research Institute. “What happens on a neighbourhood or community level is huge, economically important and beneficial. It’s also very technologically innovative.”

Means-tested production

Canada is the world’s ninth-largest auto market, but it has also seen big shifts in its auto production as companies such as General Motors move some production to Mexico to avoid anti-dumping duties imposed by the Trump administration.

Its overall automotive sector grew 1.4% in 2017 to record levels of $67.6bn, with imports almost tripling to $5.7bn from $1.8bn the year before. The Canadian Automotive Trade Alliance says that in 2017 85% of Canadian vehicles were destined for the United States.

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