Canada: Heavy-duty: GHG


Canada’s emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles only regulate greenhouse gases, and not fuel economy. Such standards are aligned with the the US EPA, and an ICCT Policy Update describes the parameters, categories, costs, and standards of these standards.

Standard type
GHG emission limits
Regulating Body
Environment Canada
All on-road vehicles rated at a GVW ≥ 3,856kg (8,500 lbs) for Model Year 2014-2018


The Government of Canada is committed to reducing Canada’s total GHG emissions to 17% below its 2005 levels by 2020 — a target that is identified in the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements. By establishing mandatory GHG emission standards for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines beginning in 2014, Canada will move closer to its Copenhagen 2020 target.

On 13 April 2012, Canada officially announced a proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standard for the heavy-duty sector. The standard was finalized on 13 March 2013 and are closely aligned with the United States’ HDV Fuel Consumption and GHG standards.

The standards will be implemented beginning with MY2014 vehicles and engines, and will be fully phased-in by 2018. They require CO2emission reductions ranging from 6% to 23% in the MY2017 timeframe (as compared to a MY2010 baseline), as well as limits on N2O and CH4 emissions and A/C leakage. The regulatory design mirrors that of the US HDV program, and the rule is best understood as three separate standards linked to specific provisions for tractor trucks, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles, with additional separate standards for the engines that power tractor trucks and vocational vehicles. The individual components of the regulations are summarized below.

Summary of key elements of the regulations
Regulatory Category Regulatory Subcategories Compliance Assessment
Tractor trucks Nine subcategories based on weight, cab configuration, and roof height GEM simulation
Inputs: aerodynamics, tire rolling resistance, weight reduction, idle reduction, vehicle speed limiter
Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans •Diesel
Chassis dynamometer testing
Vocational vehicles •Light heavy-duty (Classes 2B-5)
•Medium heavy-duty (Classes 6 and 7)
•Heavy heavy-duty (Class 8)
GEM simulation
Inputs: tire rolling resistance
Engines for tractors and vocational vehicles •Light heavy-duty (Classes 2B-5)
•Medium heavy-duty (Classes 6 and 7)
•Heavy heavy-duty (Class 8)
•Gasoline and spark-ignited engines (all classes)
Engine dynamometer testing

Key differences between US and Canadian HDV GHG regulation

Canada’s HDV GHG regulation is closely aligned with the US’ regulation in terms of regulatory design, vehicle groupings, limit values, and timing.

However, there are a few notable differences:

  • The US standard is a joint fuel consumption and GHG emission standard, whereas the Canadian standard only covers GHG regulation.
  • Any engine that is certified by the EPA may be sold in Canada without demonstrating compliance based on Canada sales-weighted averaging if they meet certain sales thresholds, which depend on a ratio of the number of engines sold in Canada and in the United States

Technical Standards


The affected heavy- and medium-duty fleet incorporates all on-road vehicles rated at a GVW ≥ 3,856 kg (8,500 lbs), and the engines that power them, except those covered by the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations.

CO2 and fuel consumption standards are applicable to three categories of vehicles and one category for engines:

  • Tractor trucks (Classes 7 and 8). Tractor trucks are vehicles that are typically used to haul goods over long distances. These trucks account for a large percentage of fuel consumption and GHG emissions from the heavy-duty vehicle sector and thus attract the greatest amount of regulatory attention in the rule. There are nine separate standards for tractor trucks based on combinations of three categories of vehicles (Class 7, Class 8 day cab, and Class 8 sleeper cab) and three roof height categories (low, medium, and high). Manufacturers must demonstrate compliance with the tractor standards using the Greenhouse Gas Emissions model (GEM), which is computer simulation program that was developed by the US EPA and NHTSA. For tractors, inputs to the model include data on aerodynamics, tire rolling resistance, weight reduction, extended idle reduction, and vehicle speed limiting. In addition, there is also a separate standard for engines of tractor trucks.
  • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans (Classes 2B and 3). This category of heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans are often very similar to their counterparts in the Class 2 (i.e. light-duty) category. Because of the similarities between the Class 2, 2B, and 3 vehicle categories, the testing and compliance approach is closely related to the program for light-duty vehicles. The Class 2B and 3 vehicles are tested on a chassis dynamometer with the stringency of the standards scaled by a newly created “work factor” that reflects the vehicle’s utility (i.e., hauling capacity, payload, and capacity for four-wheel drive). There are separate standards for diesel and gasoline vehicles.
  • Vocational vehicles (Classes 2B to 8). This is a catchall category for rest of the medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that are not classified as tractors or heavy-duty pickup trucks or vans and includes a vast array of different vehicle configurations (bucket trucks, refuse vehicles, buses, etc.), duty cycles, and payloads. To avoid the regulatory compilations involved with designing standards for such a wide range of vehicles, the point of compliance is with the chassis manufacturer. vocational trucks are divided into three sub-categories by weight: light heavy-duty (Class 2B to 5), medium heavy-duty (Class 6 and 7) and heavy heavy-duty (Class 8). Similar to the tractor program, there is a separate engine standard for this this group of vehicles. Manufacturers comply with the vocational vehicles standards using the GEM software by inputting tire rolling resistance test data.
  • Engines for tractors & vocational vehicles. Engine testing for compliance with GHG standards will occur simultaneously with testing for criteria pollutants using the same procedures and test cycles that are currently used. In effect, three more pollutants must be measured and reported: CO2, CH4, and N2O. The procedures to determine which engines must actually be tested will also remain the same as in current criteria pollutant testing. Engines will be categorized as light-heavy (Class 2B through 5), medium-heavy (Class 6 and 7) and heavy-heavy (Class 8) based on what vehicle class they are ultimately used in. Within each of these compliance categories, all engine models offered by each manufacturer will be grouped into engine families based on specific criteria that define engines with similar design characteristics. manufacturers must select at least one engine from each family for testing, consistent with selection procedures defined in the US Code of Federal regulations (40 CFR Part 86).

CO2 Standards

Heavy-duty Vehicles

A company must group all its Class 2B and Class 3 heavy-duty vehicles and heavy-duty incomplete vehicles of the 2014 and subsequent model years (excluding those referred to in the definition “vocational vehicle”) into a fleet based on model year and must ensure that the fleet average CO2 emission value calculated for that fleet does not exceed the applicable fleet average CO2 emission standard calculated for that fleet for the model year in question. CO2 standards are in the form of a set of target standard curves and are based on a “work factor” that combines a vehicle’s payload, towing capabilities, and whether or not it has 4-wheel drive. The standards will phase in with increasing stringency in each model year from 2014 to 2018. The standards include a separate standard to control air conditioning system leakage.
Vocational Vehicles

Every vocational vehicle and incomplete vocational vehicle of the 2017 and subsequent model years must have a CO2 emission rate that does not exceed the applicable CO2 emission standard set out in the following table for the model year in question for its applicable useful life:

Vocational Vehicle CO2 Emissions Standard
Class MY 2014-2016 MY 2017
Light Heavy: 2B, 3, 4, and 5 388 373
Medium Heavy: 6 and 7 234 225
Heavy Heavy: 8 226 222

Engine standards for light heavy-duty (LHD), medium heavy-duty (MHD), heavy heavy-duty (HHD) diesel engines and for heavy-duty gasoline engines are shown below.

Engine Standards for Engines Installed in Vocational Vehicles
Engine Type Year CO2 Emissions
LHD 2014-2016 600
2017 576
MHD 2014-2016 600
2017 576
HHD 2014-2016 567
2017 555
Gasoline 2016 627


Every tractor and incomplete tractor of the 2017 and subsequent model years must have a CO2 emission rate that does not exceed the applicable CO2 emission standard set out in the following table for the model year in question for its applicable useful life:

Tractor CO2 Emissions Standard
Class MY 2014-2016 MY 2017
7 low-roof 107 104
mid-roof 119 115
high-roof 124 120
8 low-roof 81/68 80/66
mid-roof 88/76 86/73
high-roof 92/75 89/72
Notes:day cab/sleeper cab

In addition to vehicle standards, engine-based standards must be met by heavy-heavy-duty (HHD) and medium-heavy-duty (MHD) diesel engines used in combination tractors.

Engine Standards for Engines Installed in Tractors
Category Year CO2 Emissions
MHD Engines 2014-2016 502
2017 487
HHD Engines 2014-2016 475
2017 460

Useful Life

CO2 emissions must be met over the engine’s and vehicle’s useful life. The useful life definitions for engines and for vehicles that use the respective engine categories are identical to those defined for criteria pollutant standards for MY 2004 and later heavy-duty engines:

  • Light Heavy Class 2b-5—110,000 miles/10 years
  • Medium Heavy Class 6-7—185,000 miles/10 years
  • Heavy Heavy Class 8—435,000 miles/10 years

Other Standards and Provisions

N2O and CH4 Standards

N2O and CH4 standards introduce emission standards for nitrous oxide and methane:

  • Engine testing: N2O = 0.10 g/bhp-hr; CH4 = 0.10 g/bhp-hr
  • Chassis testing: N2O = 0.05 g/mi; CH4 = 0.05 g/mi

Testing requirements start from MY 2015, consistent with N2O/CH4 requirements for light-duty vehicles. The standards were designed to cap emissions at current levels to prevent N2O and CH4 emission increases in future engines.

A/C Leakage

The standards assure that low-leakage components are used in air conditioning systems designed for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and semi trucks. The standard for larger A/C systems (capacity above 734 g) is measured in percent total refrigerant leakage per year, while the standard for smaller A/C systems (capacity of 734 g or less) is measured in grams of refrigerant leakage per year.

Canada-Specific Provisions

Averaging, Banking, and Trading

In terms of flexibility provisions, the regulations allow manufacturers and importers of heavy-duty vehicles and engines to meet the standards based on sales and averaging in the Canada market by participating in a CO2 emission credit system. Canada-specific compliance and reporting allows for far more accurate accounting of how new vehicle performance standards translate into real-world emission benefits. A Canada-specific averaging, banking, and trading (ABT) program does not necessarily provide greater GHG reductions; however, they do provide critical assurances and help better establish a durable regulatory program with accurately quantifiable impacts. To minimize the administrative burden on manufacturers and importers, Environment Canada has developed streamlined reporting procedures that are coordinated with the US EPA.

An important exception to these ABT provisions is the case for importers and manufacturers of engines certified by the US EPA, which are not required to demonstrate compliance based on Canada-specific sales if they meet certain sale thresholds, which depend on a ratio of the number of engines sold in Canada and in the United states.

Environment Canada is allowing engines that are certified by the US EPA to be sold concurrently in Canada without demonstrating compliance based on Canada sales-weighted averaging. In other words, there will be more flexibility on the number engines that are certified at CO2 levels that are higher than the standard that can be sold in Canada. however, a key stipulation to protect against the potential for gaming is that the higher-emitting engines must be sold in greater quantities in the US than in Canada. For an engine certified at CO2 levels higher than the standard, if the number of engines sold in Canada (1) is more than 1,000 and exceeds the number of engines of the same engine family that is sold in the US or (2) is between 101 and 1,000 and is more than twice the number of engines sold in the US, that engine must participate in the CO2 emission credit system based on sales in Canada. This provision prevents the development of high-emitting niche engines for the Canada market.

Further, to provide more time to adjust product offerings to meet a Canadian specific average and because of a shorter lead time than the US, the regulations also include a phased-in approach by providing transitional measures over the 2014-2016 model years for vocational vehicles and tractors covered by an EPA certificate. To provide additional flexibilities, companies may opt to be exempted from the requirements the CO2 emission credits system for all its 2014 model year vocational vehicles and tractors that are covered by a US EPA certificate. In addition, companies are also permitted to exempt up to 50% of these vehicles of the 2015 model year and up to 25% of these vehicles of the 2016 model year from these requirements. This exemption is not available for the 2017 and beyond model years. Some restrictions apply to the use of early action credits and credits obtained during the 2014-2016 model year if a company chooses to take advantage of the transitional measures.

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