Act quickly to fully decarbonize the economy

By: Katelyn Roedner Sutter and Michael Colvin

This past summer, Californians were hit hard by inflation: rising food costs, rising utility bills, and nothing more obvious than at the gas station. The cost of filling a tank has many potential causes and is being evaluated by many experts. Check here, here and here. Regardless of the cause, those with the tightest budgets are hit the hardest.

Last week, Governor Newsom called a special session of the Legislature to address high gas prices, and the state began sending direct rebates to Californians to help provide immediate relief. In the longer term, we need to remember that while sending checks is helpful, the lasting solution to end this gas price madness is a quick transition to a 100% clean economy.

Bold climate leadership like what we have seen from the Newsom administration and the state Legislature not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves local air quality, addresses disproportionate environmental burdens, and improves public health, it also has long-term economic benefits for California consumers.

How To Stop Worrying About Gas Prices Forever: Act Fast To Fully Decarbonize The Economy click to tweet

Affordable Clean Vehicle Rules

California recently committed to ensuring that all new passenger vehicles sold by 2035 are zero emission. This transition to a zero emission vehicle future will not be immediate, but the passenger vehicle market has matured to the point where an electric car is accessible to a broader market. EDF Analysis Shows California Will Save Nearly $11 Billion With Advanced Clean Cars II Standard annually by 2040 in economic and pollution benefits and $194 billion accumulatively by 2050. For individual car buyers, this means that buying a new 2027 electric vehicle will save them more than $9,000 over the life of the vehicle compared to a gasoline one. By 2035, this will increase to more than $13,000. These financial savings go a long way to easing the customer’s energy burden.

The total cost of owning an electric vehicle is remarkably less than owning a gasoline car, and the initial purchase price is also falling. With the new rebates included in the Reducing Inflation Act, which include up to $7,500 for a new zero-emission vehicle and up to $4,000 for a used one, 10 new electric vehicle models could cost less than $30,000. The State of California also offers a rebate of up to $4,500, as well as additional incentives for low-income residents and local rebates.

This is not just a California trend. New York, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Virginia are set to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II regulation.

Bold moves to clean heavy transport

While ACC II applies to passenger vehicles, California is also moving on heavy trucks. Together, the Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets rules will help ensure heavy-duty vehicles sold in California are zero emission vehicles. Under the ACT rule, between 55% and 75% of new truck sales, depending on truck size, must be zero emissions by 2035. Analysis by EDF and Energy Innovation estimates this rule will save truckers between $6 and $7 billion through 2040 in fuel, maintenance and more, with the savings continuing to add up in the years that follow. Additionally, the climate and air quality benefits provided by this rule will generate nearly $9 billion in public health benefits over the same time horizon.

Like the rule with passenger cars, other states are following California’s example. New York, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts have adopted the ACT, and many others are considering the rule.

Complementing the ACT sales requirement is the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which is a purchase requirement for medium- and heavy-duty fleets to adopt an increasing percentage of zero-emission trucks. The California Air Resources Board estimates that adoption of the ACF rule would result in net benefit savings of $47 billion between 2024 and 2050, which includes $20 billion in savings for fleet operators.

For both passenger and commercial electric vehicles, much of the savings comes from the price difference between gasoline and electric charging. California has been a leader in creating dedicated electric vehicle charging rates for both passenger and commercial electric vehicles that make plugging them in cleaner and cheaper than filling them up at the gas station. Additionally, this summer, California adopted a first-in-the-nation set of “sub-metering” rules to make charging in a home or multi-family building more affordable. EDF continues to advocate for aligning electrical charging with abundant renewable electricity to make charging clean and affordable.

Ambitious climate legislation and a historic climate budget

While transportation accounts for a whopping 40% of California’s emissions inventory, our entire economy needs to decarbonize to truly move away from overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels. The state is also addressing this challenge in a sweeping package of bills adopted by the legislature in August 2022 and subsequently signed by Governor Newsom.

Along with a host of other major bills and a record $54 billion climate budget, the state estimates that California’s actions this legislative session will create 4 million new jobs, reduce the state’s oil consumption by 91 % and save $23 billion. in the cost of the pollution load.

As California celebrates these important steps toward a cleaner economy, the state must also continue to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Reduce Inflation Act to continually increase its climate ambition. Transitioning to a completely clean economy is the most lasting way to decrease our demand for fossil fuels, reduce our need for imported oil, alleviate our disproportionate pollution load, and save money at the gas pump—or even get rid of the gas pump. completely. Climate action saves money and lives.

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