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Archived - Cleaner vehicles and fuels for Canadians - Final Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards

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The Government of Canada is taking further steps to address pollutants from motor vehicles and the fuel they use to help ensure clean air for current and future generations.

Under the final amendments to the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations, more stringent Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards will be established.

The Government of Canada is committed to improving air quality for Canadians

Canada is taking further action to reduce air pollutant emissions from the operation of motor vehicles. Over the last few decades, the Canadian automotive and petroleum industries have made significant investments in new technologies and upgrades for new vehicles and refineries to comply with current Canadian regulations and reduce air pollutant emissions. Continued advances in engine and emission control technologies provide the opportunity to build on past successes and introduce a new generation of even cleaner vehicles. These next generation vehicles will deliver significant health and environmental benefits to Canadians.

The amendments to the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emissions Regulations will include more stringent emission standards to reduce smog-forming emissions from new passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs and some heavy-duty vehicles such as delivery trucks beginning with the 2017 model year. The amendments to the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations will reduce the allowable annual average sulphur content of gasoline to 10 parts per million from the current level of 30 parts per million, beginning in 2017. This will enable the effective operation of advanced emission control technologies needed to comply with the more stringent vehicle air pollutant emission standards. Lower levels of sulphur in gasoline will also reduce air pollutant emissions from vehicles already on the road and enable new vehicle technologies or strategies to improve vehicle greenhouse gas emission performance.

Environmental, health and economic benefits

The Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards are expected to result in air quality improvements in Canada. Once fully phased-in, these standards for emissions of smog-forming air pollutants from new vehicles will be up to 80 percent more stringent than the current standards. By 2030, the Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards are expected to result in reductions in on-road vehicle fleet emissions of sulphur dioxide (43%), carbon monoxide (22%), volatile organic compounds (15%), nitrogen oxides (13%), fine particulate matter (8%), and certain other air pollutants.

By 2030, these air quality improvements are expected to prevent a total of approximately 1,400 premature deaths, nearly 200,000 days of asthma symptoms, and 2.8 million days of acute respiratory problems related to air pollution. Cleaner air will mean fewer hospital and doctor visits and fewer lost days at work and school for Canadians.       

From 2015 to 2030, it is estimated that the cumulative health and environmental benefits of these regulations will amount to $7.5 billion.

Continuing alignment with the United States

The final Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards are aligned with those of the United States. Given the integrated nature of the North American economy, aligned Canada–United States Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards are important to support the competitiveness of the Canadian automotive and fuel refining sectors. Alignment also provides Canadian companies with long‑term regulatory certainty, helps with product planning and refinery updates, and minimizes administrative and compliance burden.

Canada and the United States also have a long history of collaborating on joint environmental challenges. 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. Since air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions cross national boundaries, continuing to collaborate on progressive actions to address fuel quality and vehicle and engine emissions is a priority for both countries.

Other actions on air quality

The Government of Canada has also regulated, or is planning to regulate, a number of other areas, which also help to reduce smog-forming emissions beyond the on-road vehicle category:

  • In 2011, the Government published the Marine Spark-Ignition Engine, Vessel and Off-Road Recreational Vehicle Emission Regulations to reduce air pollutants from marine outboard engines, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles.
  • In 2012, the Government published amendments to the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations to further reduce air pollutants from construction, mining, farming and forestry machines powered by diesel engines.
  • In 2013, the Government published the regulations amending the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations to implement the International Maritime Organization’s North American Emissions Control Area to reduce air pollutant emissions from ships travelling in Canadian and United States coastal waters. These regulations were enabled by publication of the Regulations Amending the Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations in 2012 that ensure the availability of ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel for use in those ships.
  • In 2014, the Government published the proposed Multi-sector Air Pollutants Regulations, which would establish mandatory national air pollution emissions standards for major industrial facilities across the country.

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Hon. Leona Aglukkaq Environment and Climate Change Canada Nature and Environment

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