5 automakers agree to meet California's strict auto emissions standards nationwide

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An electric vehicle charging station at the University of Southern California. Five car companies have signed a deal with California to meet the state's stricter emissions standards, despite the Trump administration revoking California’s right to set its own rules. Photo by Amy Ta.

In an effort to combat poor air quality, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) recently reached landmark agreements with five major automobile manufacturers on emissions standards.  

Ford, BMW, Honda, Volvo, and the Volkswagen Group (which includes VW and Audi) have agreed to meet California’s stricter emissions requirements nationwide for cars and pickup trucks. That means continued annual reductions of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions through 2026, starting with model year 2022. 

Negotiations between CARB and the automakers began more than a year ago, when it was apparent the Trump administration was going to weaken fuel efficiency standards and try to revoke California’s authority to set its own emission standards. 

“They [the automakers] approached us with the idea that, hey, could we voluntarily agree to an approach that's more stringent, that essentially creates peace between California and what they would do federally,” says Steve Cliff, the deputy executive officer at CARB. “So we laid out a broad framework that essentially was this voluntary approach.”

Thirteen other states, by their own state laws, are signatories to the agreement, including New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Combined, these states make up 40% of all car sales in America, according to Cliff.

“It’s a big deal,” he says. “In fact, we're talking about hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions that will not be emitted to the atmosphere under this agreement.”

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