The EU and the US Take Steps to Electrify Transportation

The EU and the US Take Steps to Electrify Transportation

The EU has made the unprecedented decision to prohibit the production of all new gas-powered cars by 2035. By 2030, new cars must reduce their CO2 levels by 55%, and new vans by 50%, compared with 2021 levels. Five years later, by 2035, new cars and vans have to cut CO2 by 100%.

The law has not yet been formally approved, and there are some caveats. For example, manufacturers that make fewer than 10,000 cars or 20,000 vans will not have to meet the first 2030 deadline. The agreement also includes a non-binding proposition that will permit the production of vehicles that only use CO2-neutral fuels.

European Parliament: Zero-emission cars by 2035 | new EU rules explained, October 18, 2022.

CleanTransport: Health benefits of reducing vehicle emissions in Europe, December 15, 2021.

The agreement is part of a larger plan to reduce emissions by 55% by the end of this decade, as an interim deadline on the way to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“This agreement will pave the way for the modern and competitive automotive industry in the EU. The world is changing, and we must remain at the forefront of innovation,” Jozef Sikela, the minister of industry and trade in the Czech Republic, said in a statement.

Why This Matters

This ban is just one of a suite of climate protections that the EU has implemented in the past year. In June, the EU agreed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Then, just a few days ago, the European Commission made a commitment to halve the maximum amount of permitted pollutants by 2030. Europe wants to make even more ambitious climate goals, hoping to reduce emissions by an even larger percentage by 2030 to avoid reaching over 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

As the world’s largest trading bloc, the EU’s climate decisions could have a ripple effect on economies across the world.

American Lung Association: The Electric Vehicle Solution, February 3, 2021.

CNBC: Why Cities Are Banning Cars Around The World, September 7, 2022.

The US Follows Suit

While the US hasn’t committed to a federal ban on new gas-powered vehicles, many states are taking action themselves. This summer, the state of California implemented a mandatory ban on the sale of new vehicles powered by fossil fuels by 2035. At least 15 other states are following suit, signing on to California’s existing zero-emission vehicle program or are investigating implementing a program of their own.

NBC: California Will Require All New Cars Sold To Be Zero-Emission By 2035, August 25, 2022.

KING 5: Washington to ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2030, August 25, 2022.

Last month, New York banned the sale of all new fossil-fuel powered vehicles as well, and aims to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050. "New York is a national climate leader and an economic powerhouse, and we're using our strength to help spur innovation and implementation of zero-emission vehicles on a grand scale," Governor Kathy Hochul said, of the initiative.

Eyewitness News ABCNY: New York becomes 2nd state to mandate zero-emission vehicles by 2035, September 30, 2022.

On a federal level, the Biden administration agreed to subsidize $965 million worth of electric and low-emissions school buses for certain districts. This could have a myriad of benefits both for the climate, and for the students riding the bus. While the upfront costs of electric buses are more expensive, fuel and maintenance costs are much lower. Plus, students of color and lower-income families who more often rely on school buses tend to experience disproportionate levels of asthma, meaning that EVs would reduce the amount of these dangerous pollutants.

Vice President Kamala Harris, announcing the news in Seattle in front of a fleet of electric buses, said: “...this bus symbolizes so much about our collective investment in our future. Because of course, it is about our investment in our children, in their health, and in their education.”

NBC: Biden Admin To Invest Nearly $1 Billion In Green School Buses, October 28, 2022.

PBS: Kamala Harris announces $1 billion in grants for electric school buses, October 26, 2022.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Electric Vehicles | The Promise for Health and Equity, September 14, 2021.

Econimate: The Emissions Cheating Scandal and the Health Effects of Car Pollution, October 2, 2019.