President Biden is making one of his biggest moves yet toward his pledge to fight climate change, one that involves transportation, the single biggest source of US greenhouse gas emissions, reports Axios. "The future of the auto industry is electric—and made in America," Biden tweeted. Details:
- A new executive order calls for 50% of all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero-emission, reports NPR. Electric vehicles currently account for about 2% of new sales.
- The administration also will toughen fuel standards. By 2026, new passenger vehicles will have to achieve 52 miles per gallon, reports the New York Times. That's up from the requirement of 44mpg by 2026 under former President Trump and about 51mpg by 2025 under former President Obama.
- The industry is on board, with qualifications. Big automakers are pledging that 40% to 50% of sales by 2030 will be electric, reports the AP, but they're calling on the government to ramp up production of charging stations and to give buyers financial incentives to go green, among other things. "Electric" refers to vehicles that are fully electric, fuel cell, or plug-in hybrids.
- The Washington Post sees the new goals as a "repudiation" of Trump policies. Still, the story notes it remains unclear whether even these are enough for Biden to meet his goal under the Paris climate agreement of cutting US emissions in half (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. Another climate conference is scheduled to take place in Scotland this fall, and the Biden moves could be a signal to other nations that the US is taking its goals seriously, per the Post.
- But not everyone in the green camp is happy. "Today's proposal relies on unenforceable voluntary commitments from unreliable carmakers to make up to 50% of their fleets electric by 2030," Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity tells the Times. "Voluntary pledges by auto companies make a New Year's weight-loss resolution look like a legally binding contract."
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