Northampton, MA --News Direct-- Ceres
A series of letters from corporate coalitions and a group of investors representing $700 billion in assets under management is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen the emissions standards currently proposed for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Strong standards, they said, will enable fleet operators, shippers, truck manufacturers, and parts suppliers to take advantage of the economic benefits of vehicle electrification while addressing the critical risks posed by the climate crisis as well as particulate pollutants like nitrogen oxide that have long threatened the health of vulnerable communities.
Alongside the letters, a report released today by the sustainability non-profit Ceres found that while economic signals are already propelling the industry toward electrification, without effective federal policy support, the transition will not happen fast enough to the global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — to put the industry on a path to meet that goal, stronger standards than those currently proposed would be required. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that even at current levels of warming, irreversible changes to global ecosystems have already occurred and the destruction will only get worse without aggressive action.
"Trucks are responsible for a disproportionate share of the transportation sector’s emissions, accelerating climate change and putting the health of vulnerable communities at risk,” said Carol Lee Rawn, senior director of transportation at Ceres. “Electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles would not only help protect public health and the climate, but would also provide economic benefits to manufacturers, suppliers, and fleet owners across the country. To accelerate this transition at the speed and scale required, our research shows that we need effective federal policies, including a zero-emissions vehicle mandate and ambitious emissions standards, that will put us on a trajectory to ensure that half of all new medium and heavy-duty vehicles sold by 2030 are zero-emissions.”
Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represent only 5% of U.S vehicles on the road, but they are responsible for about 24% of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. As the largest source of nitrogen oxide and particle pollution within the transportation sector, they pose significant public health risks, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and premature death. Four out of ten Americans – over 135 million people – live in communities impacted by unhealthy levels of air pollution, which is especially concentrated in transportation hubs where exposure to vehicle pollution is the highest. These risks are exacerbated in low income and historically marginalized communities: a person of color is up to three times more likely to be breathing the most contaminated air than a white person.
The report found that, when compared to trucks powered by diesel engines, moving industry toward the use of electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles benefits:
Fleet owners through long-term savings on fuel and maintenance.
Forward-thinking parts suppliers, as the demand for critical components for electric vehicles increases. Employment at these suppliers collectively exceeds that of the truck makers, providing significant economic benefits to both the public and private sector.
Manufacturers, through increased production and technological improvements, which will provide cost savings and higher profit margins.
The letter from the Ceres BICEP network characterized the proposed EPA standards as inadequate to accelerate the deployment of electric commercial trucks at the rate and scale necessary to meet the climate goals, and that they must be strengthened to meet the pressing need to reduce air pollution in disadvantaged communities. A letter on behalf of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance emphasized that strong standards will be necessary to ensure the widespread availability of clean trucks in the U.S. to meet the demonstrated demand for such vehicles.
“We’re encouraged to see that truck manufacturers have already made great progress in introducing electrified models in the market, though delivery lead times are still an issue,” said Chris King, senior vice president of Siemens eMobility strategic partnering. “Together with members of the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, we’re advocating for strong policies that will help scale and advance an electrified future for heavy-duty vehicles, while creating a cleaner environment for our communities.”
“Nestlé is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 across our businesses and supply chain in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Meg Villarreal, Manager of Policy and Public Affairs at Nestlé. “This will require a shift in how we move people and goods around the country to incorporate more zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Strong federal truck standards are an important climate action tool that will help accelerate the clean energy and transportation transition.”
Another letter from investors also highlighted the economic opportunities and public health benefits that come with a rapid transition to clean trucks, as well as the systemic financial and physical risks of climate change.
“Trucks are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as air pollution, which disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “As investors, we recognize the economic importance of mitigating these major climate and public health risks, and that the transition to clean trucks represents a significant economic opportunity. However, in order to meet pressing climate and health goals, and help ensure the global competitiveness of the U.S. truck industry, EPA's proposed emission rules must be strengthened.”
The Ceres report confirmed that transitioning the U.S. industry within the necessary timeframe will require strong federal policies and support. A federal zero-emissions vehicle mandate, which would require truck manufacturers to produce a portion of their new vehicle fleet as zero-emissions vehicles, will be critical. The report also cites the importance of financial support for infrastructure, and targeted purchase incentives.
The comment period on the proposed EPA rules closed on May 16, and the letters urged the agency to finalize strengthened rules by the end of the year given the urgent need to address the climate and public health risks posed by truck emissions.
About CeresCeres 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.
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