Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and other major carmakers join General Motors in abandoning their support for former US President Trump. This is also an act to support and perhaps influence the Biden administration in setting new emission standards.
The carmakers, which also included Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru, organised in the US in the “Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation” said in a joint statement they were withdrawing from an ongoing legal challenge to California’s emission-setting powers. They called it “a gesture of good faith and to find a constructive path forward” with President Joe Biden.
Donald Trump had tried to strip California and other states of the right to set their own emissions standards for cars. As the new US President Joe Biden wants to reverse Trump’s 2019 decision regarding California and enforce stricter emissions regulations across the US, now the economic players follow the President’s guidance.
The carmakers and the National Automobile Dealers Association said they were aligned “with the Biden administration’s goals to achieve year-over-year improvements in fuel economy standards,” Reuters reports.
Simultaneously, the auto group, also representing GM, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda and others, also hope to have a say in new emission standards to be set. In their view, these “should achieve improvements in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions roughly midway between current standards and those of the former Obama administration.” It remains to be seen what “midway” could look like while climate activists hope for the Obama standards if not tighter ones.
Ford, Honda, VW and BMW in July 2019 struck a voluntary agreement with California on reducing vehicle emissions that were less stringent than rules previously adopted under Obama but higher than Trump’s rollback, Reuters points out. Volkswagen, Volvo and others had followed to join the agreement with CARB in August last year. The deal had given carmakers an extra year to reach Obama-era greenhouse gas emissions targets while dropping yearly requirements to cut CO2 from roughly 4.7 per cent to about 3.7 per cent.
GM had revoked its support for Trump policies in November last year. The carmaker has since pledged to largely abandon the internal combustion engine by 2035. The new focus will be on ‘light-duty vehicles’. These are passenger cars and light commercial vehicles up to 3.8 tonnes, according to the US definition.
President Joe Biden has since built up momentum too. In his first days in office, he announced stricter emissions regulations and the government fleet’s electrification. He then issued an Executive Order to combat climate change, which is surprisingly ambitious. The White House can order Executives Orders to define mandatory state requirements for the executive agencies that affect the law.
The President formalised the approach to transition all government fleets to zero-emission vehicles, listing the United States postal service. Section 205 also includes the creation and holding of unionised jobs for the production of these vehicles. Earlier days had Biden declare tighter emission standards shortly after taking office. And, during the election campaign, Biden had already said he would invest two trillion dollars in climate protection in the first four years if he won the election.
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