You might ask why, in our work to clean the air and curb climate change, have we chosen to focus on the transportation sector? It’s because transportation—cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, planes, and off-road equipment—is responsible for more than half of California’s climate pollution (when emissions from oil refineries are taken into consideration), 80% of smog-forming pollution, and 95% of toxic diesel emissions.
The transportation sector is, as Governor Gavin Newsom said in September when he announced his Executive Order to reduce demand for fossil fuels used in transportation, “the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change.”
We are very optimistic about California's ability to lead the world in the fight against climate change, and this year the state took 2 very important steps forward. Governor Newsom's Executive Order on Sept. 23 directed the state to:
- require that by 2035 all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles and
- ensure that all medium and heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission by 2045.
We believe that banning the sale of cars and light-duty trucks that run on fossil fuels—a regulation on manufacturers—plus enhanced funding incentives to bring down the cost for buyers and to help building charging and fueling infrastructure—could accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars well beyond what could be achieved by regulation alone. This would bring light-duty zero-emission vehicles (both cars and trucks) to the point where we can envision the market soon operating on its own without the need for incentives.
Advances in technologies on the light-duty vehicle side have now also made possible the deployment of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, including heavy-duty long-haul vehicles. In June the California Air Resources Board adopted a first-in-the-world mandate, the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, requiring truck manufacturers and operators to begin transitioning from diesel trucks and vans to zero-emission trucks in 2024. By 2045 every truck operated in California is expected to be zero-emission.
A similar approach with light-duty vehicles—regulations plus very significant and broad-based incentives applied to medium and heavy-duty on-road as well as off-road vehicles—could yield similar outcomes for those technologies. The payoffs could well include new zero-emission technologies suitable for locomotives, ships, planes and off-road equipment.
When California leads the world soon follows. Fourteen states representing 40% of the population of the U.S. follow California’s lead as a matter of policy and can be expected to join our efforts.
The International Council on Clean Transportation has said that “Since California holds a sizeable share of the heavy-duty truck market in the U.S. this regulation will have implications far beyond the state’s borders. The truck brands that represent the majority of sales in California sell in multiple regions around the world . . . California Advanced Clean Trucks regulation is expected to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy duty trucks globally.”
This would provide tremendous benefits in reducing GHGs and air pollution. This is something that we believe could be accomplished in the near future with California's regulations and our proposed funding initiative.
We appreciate the governor’s order to also direct the state to take more action to tackle the dirtiest oil extraction and to “support workers and job retention and creation as we make a just transition away from fossil fuels.” In the new green economy we can’t leave workers stranded without providing good new jobs and wages comparable to the wages they made before.