January 2, 2020

Groups Push Gov. Newsom to Transform Passenger Fleet Faster

California Governor Gavin Newsom must move up his target for 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales to meet crucial state climate goals, according to a new report by the Center for Biological Diversity.

For California to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, the report finds, all new cars sold in the state must have zero emissions by 2030 — five years earlier than Gov. Newsom’s target.

In a letter coupled with today’s report, the Center and more than 75 conservation, environmental justice and health groups urged Gov. Newsom to make sure that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) sets the 2030 zero-emission sales target in its upcoming clean cars rule.

Because gas-powered cars can stay on the road for 20 years or more, every year without a zero-emission sales requirement means a substantial addition to total emissions. The report found that putting the requirement in place in 2030 versus 2035 would prevent enough climate pollution to keep 140,000 football fields’ worth of Arctic summer sea ice from vanishing.

“California’s move to zero-emission vehicles has to get in the fast lane,” said John Fleming, a scientist at the Center and lead author of the report. “Moving too slowly on clean cars has real consequences for rising temperatures, fire risk and people’s health. It’s simple math, but people and our planet are at stake in this equation.”

To lessen the health and environmental damage from gas-powered cars sold in the next decade, the groups are calling on CARB to order automakers to decrease tailpipe pollution by at least 7% annually, to take effect no later than model year 2024.

“Requiring all cars to have zero emissions by 2030 may sound bold, but California would not be the first,” said Paul Cort, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Gov. Newsom would simply be keeping pace with the other leaders around the world who take climate and air pollution seriously.”

With recent reports showing that affluent white men are the predominant buyers of electric vehicles in the state, the groups called on Newsom’s administration to prioritize access to zero-emission vehicles, infrastructure and jobs for lower-income communities and people of color.

“Frontline communities that have disproportionately endured the harms of Big Oil for decades deserve the first benefits of clean mobility and good-paying green jobs that this transition can bring,” said Bahram Fazeli, director of research and policy at Communities for a Better Environment. “It makes both ethical and economic sense for the board to set ambitious targets for zero emissions, equity and a just transition to clean energy that benefits all Californians.”

The Air Resources Board is at work on the next state regulation for cars and light trucks and has stated that it will attempt to complete the Advanced Clean Cars II Rule by the end of 2021.

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