GHG regulations will lead to fuel savings, feds say

by Julia Kuzeljevich

KING CITY, Ont. – The federal government in Canada has put a new set of regulations on the table aiming to reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from heavy trucks by 17% by the year 2020, setting 2005 levels as the baseline.

Stephane Couroux, acting chief, greenhouse gas regulatory development and marine analysis section, Environment Canada, presented details about the proposed regulations at the Private Motor Truck Council’s annual conference this June.

The proposed GHG emission standards apply to new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines of 2014 and later model years, noted Couroux, and the regulations apply to anyone engaged in the business of manufacturing or importing new on-road heavy-duty vehicles or engines in Canada for the purpose of sale. Owners or operators of heavy-duty vehicles and engines won’t have to comply with the regulations – the burden of compliance falls on the manufacturers and importers.

In May 2010, the governments of Canada and the US jointly announced their intent to develop GHG emission standards. In October 2010 and August 2011, Canada then released two consultation documents describing the key elements of the future Canadian regulations.

Environment Canada and Transport Canada also hosted three stakeholder consultation meetings. On April 14 2012, Canada published the proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part 1, initiating a formal 60-day comment period which ended on June 13, said Couroux.

On Aug. 9, 2011, the US had released a joint rulemaking, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prescribing fuel consumption and GHG emissions standards for on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines for model years 2014 and later.

Canada’s proposed regulations align with the GHG emission standards of the US EPA, noted Couroux.

In terms of lifetime GHG emission reductions on 2014-2018 model year vehicles, the proposed regulations total a reduction of 19 megatonnes. Compared to “business as usual,” in 2020, these reductions would amount to taking three megatonnes of GHG, or some 650,000 personal vehicles off the roads.

A potential lifetime net benefit of $4.2 billion could be reached mostly through fuel savings.

“Increased vehicle purchase prices are expected to be recouped by fuel savings in less than one year in most cases,” said Couroux. Manufacturers of new heavy-duty vehicles will be able to build GHG- compliant vehicles by incorporating cost-effective and currently available “off-the-shelf” technologies.

The emission standards would also take into account the significant differences between three broad categories of heavy-duty vehicles and recognize the utility and work of the vehicles, said Couroux.

The categories include Classes 2b and 3 pick-up trucks and vans,  Classes 7 and 8 combination tractors (ie., semi-trucks), and Classes 2b through 8 vocational vehicles.

The proposed regulations also include separate engine and vehicle emission standards for combination tractors and vocational vehicles.

“We’ve now received views from all interested parties and are compiling these for the final regulations. The intent is to align the regulations with those of the US, which were released in August 2011 and apply to 2014 model years and later,” Couroux said.

Regulations will apply to vehicles from full-size pick-ups above 8,500 lbs, all the way to combination tractors, and vocational vehicles. Trailers will not be subject to the regulations, nor will off-road vehicles, construction vehicles, or agricultural equipment.

“The regulations are designed to recognize the function and ability of the vehicles to deliver the standards they need to deliver. A CO2 average standard would be proposed, measured in grams per tonne/mile and established based on the vehicle’s work factor. As the payload capacity and towing capacity increases, the work factor would too. Every year the vehicles will have to meet more stringent factors approaching the 2018 target year,” said Couroux.

“The highest reduction rate in emissions is 23% with high roof long-haul tractors. Natural gas vehicles are doing well on carbon dioxide but not on methane standards,” he added.

Manufacturers would be required to demonstrate compliance using prescribed emissions testing procedures or simulation modelling procedures, aligned with the US EPA’s.

Tractors and vocational vehicles can be tested using a US computer simulation model (GEM).

“The intent of the GEM model is to avoid costly testing – the model can be freely downloaded from the EPA Web site,” said Couroux.

The C02 emissions credit system would allow companies to manufacture or import vehicles and engines with emission levels worse or better than the standard, provided their average emission level does not exceed the standard. It would allow companies to generate, bank and trade emissions credits, which would be valid for five years, while deficits must be offset within three years. Credits and deficits are monitored through annual reporting.

The next steps include a review of the written comments submitted during the formal 60-day consultation period which ended in June. The government will adjust provisions of proposed regulations as needed, and final regulations are targeted for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II later in 2012.

“The intent is to finish the regulations for this calendar year and to have them in place for the next calendar year,” said Couroux.

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