Ambitious New Federal Vehicle Emissions Standards Are a Win for the Climate, Public Health, Consumers, and the U.S. Auto Industry

Dec 20, 2021 2:00 PM ET
Press Release

December 20, 2021 /3BL Media/ - The vehicle emissions standards released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “are an important step in the critical race to decarbonize the nation’s auto industry," Ceres said in a statement today.

These final standards are more ambitious than those proposed by the agency earlier this year. The new standards increase the expected cumulative greenhouse gas emissions reductions through 2050 by almost one billion tons, and double the anticipated electric vehicle market penetration by model year 2026 that had been projected under the previously proposed standards. They will help put the industry on track to meet the Biden administration’s goal of 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030 — a target analysts found will be the minimum necessary to meet climate goals. They also close previous loopholes, ensuring additional real-world emissions reductions.

"Our country's ability to meet U.S. climate goals and protect the health of our communities as well as the future competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry all turn on a rapid shift to electric and cleaner vehicles — a shift that requires strong emissions and fuel-economy standards,” added Carol Lee Rawn, senior director of transportation at Ceres. “Our own Ceres research shows that they not only advance U.S. climate goals, they also carry major benefits for the auto industry, particularly suppliers. Vehicle electrification and stronger efficiency standards will support businesses and communities by reducing toxic air pollution, lowering lifetime vehicle costs, and insulating drivers from future fuel price spikes.”

“The auto industry is already moving toward vehicle electrification, but the ambitious standards announced today will help to accelerate that transition to the speed and scale required to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, while leveling the playing field for automakers committed to electrification and clean cars,” Rawn added.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and is one of the six focus sectors in the Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative. Ozone and fine particulates in vehicle emissions cause increased death and disease from cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, both in cities and neighborhoods near highways, and disproportionately impact communities of color.

Investors and major U.S. companies alike have long advocated for strong emissions standards from EPA, calling for ambitious standards that will reduce costs for businesses and consumers , lower emissions, and protect the future global competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry. In September, the Ceres BICEP network and the Ceres-led Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, sent letters to federal officials calling for ambitious standards with interim targets that will put the country on track to reach 100% zero-emission passenger vehicle sales by 2035 at the latest. Investors representing $2.3 trillion in assets under management also signed on to a letter to federal officials advocating for ambitious action on vehicle emissions.

A recent policy brief from Ceres analyzed three sets of vehicle standards proposed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), and found that the strongest proposed standards would provide U.S. automakers with a cost-effective insurance policy against future fuel price shocks and would increase their global competitiveness as electric vehicle adoption accelerates worldwide. Regardless of gas prices, stronger standards were found to benefit suppliers in particular, who collectively employ 3.5 times more Americans than automakers.

Another set of standards, which will cover model years beyond 2026, is expected to be released in 2022.

“It is critical that we continue to see increased ambition from both EPA and NHTSA as they develop the next round of vehicle emissions standards," Rawn said. “We must see a continued commitment to strong standards in order to ensure that we meet critical climate targets and support a robust auto industry in the U.S. for many years to come.”

About Ceres
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.

Media Contact: Mara Abbott, mabbott@ceres.org, 617-247-0700 ext. 250