The United States tightens car emissions standards to boost electric vehicles

The American government announced on Wednesday that it had finalized new standards on polluting emissions from automobiles, the strictest ever adopted, with the aim of accelerating the transition to electric cars.

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Compared to the draft regulations announced in 2023, which has since been the subject of a public consultation, these final standards however give more time and flexibility to manufacturers to achieve the new CO2 emissions targets.

In the middle of an election year, the president Joe Biden needs the support of the automotive industry and its employees. But it must also convince on its climate promises. Among them: ensuring that half of the cars sold in UNITED STATES in 2030 be electric.

I'm excited to announce the toughest vehicle pollution standards ever in U.S. history “, said Michael Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In front of a huge flag of the United States, a country where the car is king, he added: “ I have always loved cars, and always will. »

The new standards concern light and medium vehicles built from 2027 until 2032. The administration does not set a precise quota of clean vehicles for sale, but gradually restricts the average annual emissions authorized for new vehicles from each manufacturer , thus encouraging them to electrify their fleet.

The threshold limit was relaxed for the first years (2027-2030), but ends in 2032 at the same level as previously envisaged. By that date, CO2 emissions standards will represent a reduction of about 50% compared to the standards for 2026 cars, the EPA argues.

Many environmental associations welcomed the announced measures. Some experts have nevertheless accused the government of having given in to pressure from industry. The new standards require fewer emissions reductions in the early years » compared to the initial proposal, regretted the Center for Biological Diversity. “ This will send carbon pollution into the atmosphere sooner, and do more damage to the climate. »

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Leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States

Transportation is currently the country's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The new standards should make it possible to avoid the emission of 7.2 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2055, according to the EPA. This represents around four times the emissions from the transport sector in 2021. The new regulations also affect emissions of fine particles, which are dangerous for health. A net profit of 99 billion dollars per year is expected, according to the government, including 13 billion thanks to health savings (avoided hospitalizations, etc.).

The auto industry welcomed the announcement. John Bozzella, of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, welcomed the extension of deadlines decided by the EPA, highlighting the challenges encountered on the road to electrification, such as the need to develop new production lines.

Joe Biden's Republican opponents have accused him of leading a crusade against gasoline cars, forcing ” ordinary Americans to conform their way of life » to the elites, according to their leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. The American Petroleum Institute (API), representing the oil sector, even threatened to take legal action against the new regulations. This works like “ a ban ” drive to “ eliminate most new traditional gasoline and hybrid cars from the U.S. market in less than a decade “, she said.

Also listenWhy electric car sales are slowing around the world

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