The western Canadian province of British Columbia leads North America in adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) according to a government news release. As reported by the province’s 2021 Zero-Emission Vehicle Update, 13% of all new light-duty vehicle sales were ZEVs that year. British Columbia also has the oldest Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program in North America. The program, which was designed to reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels used in the province, was established in 2008. As part of a western movement to adopt clean fuel standard programs such as the British Columbia Low Carbon Fuel Standard (BC-LCFS), California implemented its Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2011, Oregon its Clean Fuels Program in 2016, and Washington State its Clean Fuel Standard in 2023.
Emission Goals in British Columbia and Canada
Since 2008, the British Columbia Low Carbon Fuel Standard program has been revised and expanded, and it is now a key component of the province’s climate action plan. The BC-LCFS goals are a 20% reduction in average carbon intensity from 2010 emissions by 2030. British Columbia’s goals are part of a larger picture, as Canada as a country is committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Clean fuel standard programs are about to get big. The Canadian national program, called the Clean Fuel Regulation (CAN-CFR), is scheduled to go live in July of 2023, making Canada the first country with a national clean fuel standard program.
Low Carbon Fuel Standards’ Transportation Focus
Clean fuel standard programs specifically incentivize clean transportation fuels including those for on-road and off-road equipment and vehicles. According to the British Columbia government, the transportation sector accounts for over a third of total provincial greenhouse gas emissions. These programs do not, for example, incentivize emission reduction from residential or commercial heating and cooling, another major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
However, not everything electric that is related to transportation qualifies for the BC-LCFS program, which is administered by the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. Qualifying equipment and vehicles under the British Columbia Low Carbon Fuel Standard include non-residential electric vehicles and chargers, public transit, and electric power for ocean-going vessels. Fleets of Class 1-8 electric vehicles (EVs), and electric transport refrigeration units (eTRUs), can also earn the company on the utility bill credits.
How does the LCFS work in British Columbia?
Clean fuel standard programs may be called different things in different jurisdictions. For example, the Oregon program is called the “Clean Fuels Program.” However, all clean fuel standard programs, including the one in British Columbia, work in the same way and have the same intent, which is to lower greenhouse gas emissions over the lifecycle of a transportation fuel, from extraction to combustion. This is also called lowering the “carbon intensity (CI)” of the fuel.
The BC-LCFS Program sets carbon intensity reduction targets for transportation fuels, and these targets are gradually increased over time. Fuel suppliers are required to meet these targets by either blending lower-carbon fuels into their products or purchasing credits from other suppliers who have succeeded to exceed their targets. The 2021-22 average credit value in British Columbia was over $445, making these credits very valuable.
If you are eligible for the program in British Columbia, with zero change to your operations, you can start generating incentives to help offset the cost of charging and maintaining your equipment or you can fund new sustainability initiatives.
British Columbia, with a population of just over five million, is a powerful leader and forward-thinker in the climate change mitigation space. By requiring fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of their products over time, the British Columbia Low Carbon Fuel Standard encourages the use of lower-carbon fuels, such as electricity, and supports the development of clean technology. As more states and national governments adopt clean fuel standard programs, the power of these programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will begin to be felt around the world.