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News & resources / Media / Cleaning up our emissions means government support for all low-emission energy
Writer Auston Chhor raises some very interesting points in his story, ‘Why It’s Time to Rethink Electric Vehicles’, recently published in The Tyee.
One of the points he raises is, “who will benefit from these incentives? Will it be all of society or only some?” He states that while some are reaping the benefits of the billions of tax dollars being thrown to fight climate change, it is often the less fortunate that are being left behind in the push to reduce emissions. Even with the rebates, the majority of British Columbians still can’t afford to purchase an EV, so how are rebates really benefiting the environment?
To effect change and bring real progress, we need real solutions and an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach. As Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation has repeatedly said, “(electric vehicles) are not the only way to achieve the world’s carbon neutrality goals”. He notes that while Toyota is pursuing all options, there needs to be clean options for all drivers in all types of settings, some drive electric vehicles but there are others who live in places with no access to charging facilities. This is true in remote and rural areas of B.C. and in many other similar areas across Canada.
Toyoda is calling for more diversity in future automotive fuels, including hydrogen and biofuels, but there are affordable, low-emission options available now – like propane.
While propane is most often thought of to power up the BBQ, it is a highly efficient, abundantly available energy source that also powers vehicles, emitting significantly fewer harmful emissions than conventional fuels. Propane is a by-product of natural gas but contains no methane. It is not a greenhouse gas prior to combustion. If leaked, it does not cause damage to air, land or water. In terms of tailpipe emissions, propane produces about 96 per cent fewer nitrogen oxide emissions than diesel buses.
Currently, federal and provincial rebates are often narrowly focused, offering electric-only rebates. This includes the Zero Emission Transit Fund from the Government of Canada – a cost of $2.75 billion over five years. It only supports public transit and school bus operators who are electrifying their fleets.
If the real goal is to reduce emissions, would we not better be served if we could take as many diesel buses off the road as we can?
Propane buses are less expensive to purchase than electric buses – about one-third the price – and operators can put more of them on the road for the price of one electric bus.
School districts across Canada are choosing propane to power their school buses because it is one of the most clean, affordable, and reliable options available. Southland Transportation, part of the Pacific Western Group of companies, currently owns and operates the largest propane-powered fleet in the country with over 850 buses because they are ‘operationally viable’ and are a ‘proven solution to reduce emissions’. Southland says they removed 3,229 metric tonnes of CO2E from entering the atmosphere in 2019 alone – equivalent to 686 passenger vehicles being driven for a year. They operate school, charter, and commuter transportation buses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Using a single solution to fight climate change means that we are ‘putting all of our eggs into one basket’. Let’s not invest all of our resources into a single thing, let’s be smart about reducing emissions, using all best the options available to us.
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