The State of California reached a voluntary framework agreement with four major automakers to raise gas-mileage standards and cut greenhouse gas emissions, a move the state characterized as a reaction to the Trump Administration’s determination to ease emissions standards for cars and light trucks established during the Obama administration.
The context for the agreement is a proposal from August 2018 by which the Trump Administration would strip California of its right to impose its own state emissions standards, or to establish a number of electric vehicles that the automakers must supply. The Trump administration position is that federal law should precede California in setting automotive emissions standards.
Following that policy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have proposed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. That proposal has not yet been authorized.
“The Trump administration believes strongly in a national fuel standard that promotes safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles," according to a White House spokesman. "The federal government, not a single state, should set this standard. We are moving forward to finalize a rule for the benefit of all Americans.”
Automakers have been pushing the Administration to reach agreement with California and other states to agree on a single nationwide standard for automotive emissions standards.
The agreement between the California Air Resource Board (CARB) and Ford Motor Co., Honda of America, BMW of North America, and Volkswagen Group of America commits those automakers to continued annual reductions of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions through the 2026 model year; encourages them to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles; and "provides industry the certainty needed to make investments and create jobs."
The agreement also supports a national program to reduce GHG by at least 30% compared to splitting up the standards between those followed by California and 13 other states and the less stringent standards proposed by the Trump administration.
CARB emphasized that the automakers’ commitment means that they voluntarily agree to sell only cars in the United States that meet these standards.
“Few issues are more pressing than climate change, a global threat that endangers our lives and livelihoods. California, a coalition of states, and these automakers are leading the way on smart policies that make the air cleaner and safer for us all,” stated Gov. Gavin Newsom.