On December 29, 2009, Ms. Line Beauchamp, Québec's Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, announced that the Regulation respecting greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, whose standards are equivalent to those in force in California, was to come into effect in mid-January 2010. Québec thus becomes the first Canadian province to apply North America's strictest automotive emissions standards and joins an ongoing North American movement that has seen some fifteen (15) American states, including a majority of the province's northeast neighbours, follow California's lead. The U.S. federal government has also announced its intention to adopt California-equivalent standards in 2012.
The Regulation applies to all cars and light trucks sold, leased or marketed in Québec from the 2010 model year onward and most notably sets out a table of gradually diminishing maximum GHG emissions standards for large volume manufacturer vehicles for model years 2009-2016. In addition, the Regulation establishes a system of credits and debits whereby beginning with the 2010 model year for large volume manufacturers and the 2016 model year for other manufacturers, a fee of $5,000 per vehicle equivalent is payable for any excess over the maximum emissions standards. All sums thereby obtained are paid into the province's Green Fund, established by section 15.1 of the Act respecting the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs.
At 40% of the province's total GHG emissions, of which nearly half are due to Light Vehicles, the transportation sector is Québec's most important emitter. The Regulation's coming into effect thus constitutes an important step towards realizing the goals of the province's 2006-2012 Climate Change Action Plan, and is a determinant factor in reaching its 2020 GHG emission reduction target as well.
It is expected that in addition to encouraging the large scale use of more energy efficient technologies in the transportation sector, such as electric or hybrid vehicles, the Regulation will foster a more rational use of non-renewable petroleum resources, thereby decreasing Québec's overall dependence on fossil fuels.