National clean fuel standard will have big impact

The federal government today announced it would be consulting with governments and Canadians to develop a national clean fuel standard. The policy would mandate a smaller carbon footprint for fossil fuels supplied in Canada, while also promoting cleaner energy sources such as biofuels, electricity and hydrogen.


“Today’s commitment shows leadership on clean transportation in Canada that will spur clean growth in both rural and urban areas.

“The goal that Ottawa has set for this policy—reducing 30 million tonnes of carbon pollution in 2030, equivalent to taking over six million cars off the road that year—will make a big contribution towards meeting our national climate target.

“The federal government has chosen a cost-effective and proven policy tool. British Columbia’s clean and renewable fuel standard has been a quiet success in the province, accounting for a quarter of the cuts to carbon pollution B.C. achieved from 2007 to 2012.”

—Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada

“Roughly a quarter of Canada’s carbon pollution comes from transportation. This standard will help clean up the fossil fuels in cars and trucks today, but also helps build Canada’s clean transportation sector by supporting electric cars and renewable energy.

“And it’s not just about cars and trucks. This announcement pledged to cover all fuels in Canada—gasoline and diesel but also natural gas, propane and more. Broader coverage should make the policy stronger and more cost-effective.

“Today’s announcement sets a strong foundation. We’re looking forward to helping build a smart and effective clean fuel standard for Canada.”

—Clare Demerse, federal policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada


  • A preliminary estimate published by Clean Energy Canada found that adopting a national clean fuel standard similar to B.C.’s policy could cut carbon pollution by about 30 million tonnes in 2030, equivalent to taking over six million cars off the road that year. Today’s announcement commits to the same level of emission reduction.
  • Last week, over 20 industry players, civil society groups and academics called on the Government of Canada to adopt a national clean fuel standard.
  • Clean fuel standards set targets to reduce carbon pollution that account for the full lifecycle of a fuel, from extraction to production to combustion in the engines of vehicles. California introduced a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2009, B.C. introduced a similar standard in 2010, and Oregon followed this year.     
  • Recent polling from Nanos Research for Clean Energy Canada found that 80 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support “adopting a new clean fuel standard to reduce the total carbon emissions from the production and use of gasoline and diesel fuel.”
  • Shifting to clean power as a source of fuel for transportation is a fundamental part of Canada’s recently-published long-term climate strategy (available here). The strategy also notes that renewable and low-carbon fuels “such as second generation biofuels and hydrogen” will play a part in Canada’s clean energy transition.
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