Council tells province to boost biofuels, electric vehicles, public transit

The province is considering recommendations from the expert advisory council

Nearly 40 per cent of Manitoba’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.

The province will “strongly consider” expert advice including increased use of biofuels, boosting alternatives to diesel vehicles in agriculture and trucking, and more widespread public transit as it puts together its green transportation strategy.

“We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors,” said Sarah Guillemard, minister of conservation and climate in a news release June 25.

“With transportation accounting for more than one-third of provincial emissions, we will strongly consider the EAC’s advice regarding this sector as we develop the Green Transportation Strategy for our province.”

The EAC is the Expert Advisory Council, a group of provincially appointed advisers with expertise in law, conservation, wildlife management, sustainability and other fields.

“With almost 40 per cent of Manitoba’s emissions coming from transportation, a targeted strategy is needed to reduce emissions,” the EAC wrote in its report released in June.

The report was based on almost three years of research and consultations, the report said.

The EAC told the province it should maximize low-carbon and zero-emission modes of transportation. It should “dramatically reduce the reliance on petroleum products” by increasing biofuel blending levels to 15 per cent ethanol (currently 9.25 per cent) and 10 per cent biodiesel (currently 3.5 per cent but set to rise to five per cent next year).

The province should also support replacement of heavy-duty diesel vehicles, like those used in farming, construction and trucking, with low-carbon and zero-emission alternatives, the EAC said.

The EAC recommended that municipal public transit should be expanded and that all municipalities within commuting distance of major urban centres should be part of a regional transport plan. These plans should include “building on the success of rapid transit corridors on a regional scale.”

The EAC told the province it should step up repaving and maintenance of road surface to increase fuel efficiency, and it should financially incentivize efforts to increase electric vehicle charging stations across the province and to build hydrogen fuel cell refilling stations.

This would also require improved broadband internet to help things like “smart EV charging and billing” and autonomous vehicles, the EAC said.

Other recommendations included tax breaks for “cleantech innovation and adoption”; land-use planning to build in active transportation and low-carbon or zero-carbon transportation; and pilot projects to test the feasibility of new, clean technology use in Manitoba.

The EAC recommended the green transportation strategy be completed in advance of Manitoba’s second carbon savings account, a program that tracks emission reductions over five-year increments. The second carbon savings account begins in 2023.

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