The Harper Government announced a plan to align the country’s emission regulations with the U.S. in an effort to cut down on air pollution from vehicles and gasoline.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq made the announcement last week, noting the new standards for on-road vehicles are “part of its (Harper Government) ongoing commitment to improve air quality for Canadians.

What does this mean for the Canadian auto industry going forward?

Starting with the 2017 model year, Canada’s Tier 3 regulations will introduce more dramatic air pollutant emission standards for new passenger cars, light-duty trucks and certain heavy-duty vehicles, such as delivery vans.

The Harper Government also said the country will also lower limits on the allowable sulphur content of gasoline beginning in 2017, again aligning Canadian standards with the United States.

“Common Canada–United States standards deliver significant health and environmental benefits, while maintaining our economic competitiveness and protecting good, high-paying jobs in integrated sectors, including automotive manufacturing and refining,” the Harper Government’s release stated.

According to the release, the transportation sector makes up nearly a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and is also a major source of smog-forming air pollutant emissions for Canada’s largest cities.

The full explanation of Canada’s new Tier 3 regulations can be found here.

Here are a few key facts to keep in mind in regards to the new fuel emission standards and regulations, according to the Harper Government:

  • According to the release, once the Tier 3 vehicle standards reach full stringency with the 2025 vehicle model year, the new standards will represent a reduction of up to 80 percent in smog-forming air pollutant emissions for new vehicles compared to the current Tier 2 vehicle standards.
  • Amendments to the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations will reduce the allowable sulphur content of gasoline by nearly 70 percent beginning in 2017. Lower sulphur gasoline will enable the effective operation of advanced emission-control technologies used to comply with the more stringent vehicle air pollutant emission standards and will also lead to reductions in air pollutants from vehicles already on Canadian roads.
  • By 2030, it is estimated that the Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards will result in cumulative health and environmental benefits of $7.5 billion and cumulative fuel and vehicle related costs of $2.7 billion. Accordingly, the projected benefits would exceed the projected costs by a ratio of almost 3-to-1.
  • The projected health benefits from the Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards are significant. Between 2017 and 2030, it is estimated that reductions in air pollutants from vehicles will prevent about 1,400 premature deaths, nearly 200,000 days of asthma symptoms and 2.8 million days of acute respiratory problems in Canada.

"Our Government is continuing to move forward with responsible regulatory measures that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector while maintaining Canada's economic competitiveness and protecting good, high-paying jobs in sectors of the economy integrated with the United States,” said Aglukkaq, who is also the Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council. “Our Tier 3 regulations will cut air pollution and protect the health and environment of Canadians by establishing the most stringent national standards in the world for air pollutant emissions from new cars and light trucks."

And this is just the most recent step made in an effort to regulate air pollutant emissions from vehicles.

Specifically, total emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from passenger vehicles and light trucks operated on Canadian roads have decreased by almost 40 percent from 2006 to 2013, due in part to regulatory actions and protection.