Published 4 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Smog and air pollution due to vehicle emissions have been been issues in California cities such as Los Angeles | Wikimedia
Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — which together represent about a third of the US market — are using their collective heft to fight for cleaner air in the US. 12 other US states and Canada have adopted California’s rules.
As the White House prepares to roll back emission standards for light-duty
cars and trucks, put in place by the Obama
a consortium of automakers — Ford,
Honda, BMW of North America and Volkswagen Group of America — have
taken it upon themselves to reach a voluntary agreement with California to
reduce emissions that can serve as an alternative path forward for clean vehicle
Under the new framework, the automakers will increase the average fuel economy
of their new vehicles to nearly 50 miles per gallon by model year 2026 — an
increase of 3.7 miles per gallon per year. The deal also encourages innovation
to accelerate the transition to electric
and provides the auto industry the certainty needed to make investments and
create jobs (read more about the framework
commitment means that Ford, Honda, BMW and
VW (which may still have a ways to go to regain the public's trust on the subject of emissions standards)
will only sell cars in the US that meet these standards; and it leaves room for
other automakers to adopt them, as well.
California has had the ability to set its own air standards since the Clean
Air Act was established in 1970, though the current administration is trying
to revoke that right, alongside its attempt to lower national emissions
standards. California’s standards have remained higher than the EPA’s —
despite ongoing pushback from the current
— and 12 other US states, and
have adopted California’s rules.
“Few issues are more pressing than climate change, a global threat that
endangers our lives and livelihoods. California, a coalition of states and these
automakers are leading the way on smart policies that make the air cleaner and
safer for us all,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a
“I now call on the rest of the auto industry to join us, and for the Trump
administration to adopt this pragmatic compromise, instead of pursuing its
regressive rule change. It’s the right thing for our economy, our people and our
last month, 17 global automakers appealed to the White House and California to
come together on a single national standard, warning of uncertainty for the auto
market and for auto industry jobs. Now, four of these companies have agreed to a
framework that includes annual emission reductions and would speed the
transition to electric vehicles.
“These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by
allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national
fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful
greenhouse gas emission reductions,” the four companies said in a joint
Under the framework, gasoline and diesel cars and light trucks will get cleaner
through 2026 at about the same rate as the current program. It also supports a
national program that will result in at least 30 percent more GHG reductions,
compared to splitting up the standards between those followed by California and
12 other states (and now, Canada), and the less stringent standards proposed by
California urges the White House to reflect the principles in its new vehicle
emissions framework — but the State says the approach laid out in the framework
will move ahead, regardless of federal support.
“This agreement represents a feasible and acceptable path to accomplishing the
goals of California and the automobile industry,” said California Air
Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols. “If the White House does
not agree, we will move forward with our current standards but work with
individual carmakers to implement these principles. At the same time, if the
current federal vehicle standards proposal is finalized, we will continue to
enforce our regulations and pursue legal challenges to the federal rule.”
The announcement comes as the White House is preparing to roll back federal
vehicle emission standards, effectively freezing them at the 2020 level through
the 2026 model year — a move that threatens air quality and the health of
millions across the US, would increase costs to consumers, and promises to
further set back US efforts to combat climate
The rollback has faced growing opposition from a broad array of governors and
mayors, auto companies, labor, consumer groups, public health organizations and
environmental groups. Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors
representing more than half the US population called for a stronger, national
clean car standard.
While today’s announcement feels like a win, as business bands together to fight
for necessary changes in policy to ensure a healthy future, the government
“The Trump Administration is pursuing one national standard and certainty for
the entire auto market that will provide safe, affordable vehicles for consumers
while also improving environmental outcomes,” EPA spokesperson Michael
Abboud said in a statement. “Today’s announcement from CARB has no impact on
EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. This
voluntary framework is a PR stunt that does nothing to further the one national
standard that will provide certainty and relief for American consumers.”
Unsurprisingly, environmental groups disagree.
“This announcement reaffirms the authority of California — and every other state
— to set eminently achievable vehicle pollution standards that protect the
public and curb carbon pollution,” Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles
and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
“The agreement clearly demonstrates that the Trump administration’s rollback,
which has no technical or legal rationale, is doomed. The administration should
drop its senseless and harmful plan that would make cars pollute more and cost
drivers more at the pump.”
Admiral Dennis Blair, a council member of nonpartisan group Securing
America’s Future Energy, told The
he hopes the deal will “revitalize discussions with the Trump administration”
regarding emissions. “We commend Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW of North
America for thinking outside the box and making the effort,” he said.
While Fiat Chrysler, GM and Toyota all declined to
on whether they will sign onto the new framework, they all expressed support for
continued improvement of emissions and fuel economy standards, and a nationwide
transition to electrified vehicles. It will be interesting to see if more
companies engage and continue the momentum generated by today’s announcement.
Published Jul 25, 2019 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST