In a major 2020 victory, UCS helped California implement a first-in-the-nation policy requiring a sales standard for electric, zero-emission freight trucks. The policy, which UCS pushed hard to strengthen, will help reduce air pollution among the most exposed communities.
Limiting the worst impacts of climate change requires transitioning from fossil fuels and charting a path toward net-zero carbon emissions over the next decade. This standard is the biggest step forward yet for electric trucks. It requires manufacturers to sell a certain number of electric trucks each year beginning in 2024, resulting in 15 percent of trucks on the road—roughly 300,000—being electric by 2035. It will move the industry from pilot projects to large-scale production of electric trucks and set the bar for the rest of the country to follow.
Trucks and buses combined make up 10 percent of all vehicles on the road today and 28 percent of all carbon emissions from on-road vehicles in the U.S. Most trucks on the road today are diesel powered and create harmful emissions that disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities due to their proximity to roads and heavy traffic corridors. Every diesel truck replaced with an electric truck has an immediate positive impact on public health. An analysis by UCS found electric trucks in California emit 68 to 88 percent less life cycle global warming emissions than similar diesel trucks, depending on the type of vehicle.
For California to achieve carbon neutrality in the next 25 years it has to get as close as possible to 100 percent zero-emission trucks and buses on the roads. This sales standard for manufacturers is a major step towards that goal, and sets the bar for other states to follow.