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Speaking point for

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.,

Minister of the Environment,

Announcing Canada's intention to align with Proposed United States Tier 3 transportation standards

June 7, 2013 

Good afternoon,

Thank you for joining me today.

First off, I’d like to thank Mr. Ichii from Toyota and this dealership for their hospitality and allowing us to be here today. Thank you.

I’d also like to thank David Adams, from the Global Automakers of Canada, Peter Boag, from the Canadian Fuels Association, and Mark Nantais, from the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, for making time out of your busy schedules to be here this afternoon. Your cooperation is key to the success of our regulations and to improving air quality for all Canadians to enjoy. 

Let me begin by noting that Canada and the United States have a long history of formal cooperation on clean air matters. In 1991, Canada and the United States signed the Canada–United States Air Quality Agreement to address transboundary air pollution leading to acid rain and, later, to address air pollution leading to high amounts of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. More recently, in 2011, Prime Minister Harper and President Obama announced the establishment of the Canada–United States Regulatory Cooperation Council to better align regulatory approaches between the two countries including continuing to tightly harmonize our regulatory work on light duty vehicle emissions.

This strong collaboration between Canada and the United States has resulted in the alignment of our air pollutant emission regulations for a broad range of on‑road and off-road vehicles and engines and fuels, and more recently, with respect to greenhouse gas emission standards, for light-duty and heavy-duty on‑road vehicles. Our shared efforts also make today’s announcement possible.

In keeping with this beneficial history, our government will be amending two of its regulations to align with proposed United States Tier 3 standards for stricter limits on air pollutant emissions from new cars and light trucks and reductions to the amount of sulphur in gasoline for 2017 and beyond. Once fully phased-in, these standards are expected to reduce smog-forming air pollutants from new vehicles by approximately 80 percent compared to the current Tier 2 standards, moving towards cleaner air for Canadians.

Economic growth and environmental stewardship can go hand-in-hand and are not mutually exclusive. For example, with regards to the transportation sector, Canada has realized significant emission reductions from its vehicle, engines and fuels regulations—demonstrating that, by taking a sector by sector approach, we can concretely lower emissions. We have proof today, that, with this cooperative approach with stakeholders, we can not only improve the environment for all Canadians, but also have a positive economic impact in our communities.

In fact, the latest emissions numbers estimate that, in 2011, total emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from light-duty cars and light‑duty trucks operating on Canadian roads were lower by about 40 percent and 45 percent, respectively. This is compared to levels in 2003 before the current Tier 2 emission standards took effect in combination with existing requirements for sulphur in gasoline.

I would like to commend the Canadian automotive and petroleum industries who have made significant investments in new technologies and upgrades for new vehicles and refineries to achieve these important emission reductions. Through such cooperation, we can achieve our shared goals of bettering the environment in which we live and raise our families. Going forward, continued advances in vehicle engine and emission control technologies provide the opportunity to build on past successes and introduce a new generation of vehicles having even better emission performance. Lower levels of sulphur in gasoline would ensure the effective operation of future advanced emission control technologies and would also reduce air pollutant emissions from the fleet of in-use vehicles.

The details of the planned regulations will be developed in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties. We will also continue to work closely with the United States Environmental Protection Agency on the continued implementation of common national standards to reduce air pollution from vehicles and fuels.

Not surprisingly, air quality in Canada is among the best in the world and we continue to make significant advancements towards delivering cleaner air for Canadians. Today’s announcement is but one more piece to ensuring the continued protection of our air quality.  

Just two weeks ago, I was right here in Toronto announcing the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards, the first step in implementing Canada's Air Quality Management System, which was agreed to by provincial, territorial and federal environment ministers at the meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment back in October.

All these steps our government is taking are securing a healthier environment for Canadians today and tomorrow to enjoy. 

Although there is still much to do, our intention to align with these tougher United States standards is proof of our government’s commitment to ensuring Canadians benefit from a healthy environment.

By striving for real environmental, health and economic benefits for all Canadians, our actions will sustain long-term prosperity.

Thank you.