First-in-the-word standards for zero emission trucks set in California

Thu 25 June 2020 View all news

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced the first rules in the world which aim to require truck manufacturers to ensure the trucks and vans they sell in the state by 2045 wil be zero emission.  
The CARB clean-truck standard will require truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to zero emission vehicles beginning in 2024. 
Jared Blumenfeld, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection said: "California is an innovation juggernaut that is going electric. We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel."
CARB says that the new rule directly addresses disproportionate risks and health and pollution burdens affecting disadvantaged communities and puts California on the path for an all zero-emission short-haul drayage fleet in ports and railyards by 2035, and zero-emission 'last-mile' delivery trucks and vans by 2040.
CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said: “For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air. 
“Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities. Now is the time – the technology is here and so is the need for investment.”
In California, trucks are the largest single source of air pollution from vehicles, responsible for 70 percent of the smog-causing pollution and 80 percent of carcinogenic diesel soot even though there are only two million trucks compared with a total of 30 million registered vehicles in the state. 
CARB says that the requirement to shift to zero emission trucks, along with the ongoing shift to electric cars, will help California meet its climate goals and federal air quality standards, especially in the Los Angeles region and the San Joaquin Valley – areas that suffer the highest levels of air pollution in the nation. 
In the coming months, CARB will also consider two complementary regulations to support its action on trucks. The first sets a stringent new limit on NOx (oxides of nitrogen). This will require that new trucks that still use fossil fuels include the most effective exhaust control technology during the transition to electric trucks. There is also a proposed requirement for larger fleets in the state to transition to electric trucks year over year.
Through CARB there are multiple regulations to incentivise the transition to zero emission passenger cars, cleaner diesel fuel and improved technologies to limit diesel emissions for all trucks and buses.
In recent years, CARB has set rules to electrify buses used by transit agencies and shuttles at the state’s largest airports by 2030.
LowCVP viewpoint
An interesting aspect of the CARB proposals is the focus on considering duty cycles and weight classifications of trucks to target much earlier adoption of zero emissions where technically (and operationally) viable. With a complex series of zero emission fleet targets for freight sectors the regulators acknowledge the complexity of this market and the need to prioritise short-haul and last-mile operations first. 
A primary step to be taken in 2021 is a comprehensive (and mandatory) reporting exercise from the freight industry to gather the necessary data on truck operations, from which a more robust regulatory approach can be formed. LowCVP is working along similar lines to develop Ultra Low Emission Truck standards for the UK around which policy can be built to support the vital freight sector transition to zero emissions in the most optimal way.

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