Solving the climate crisis by building better cars

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The Obama Administration, working with the support of automakers and autoworkers, will double the fuel economy of our cars and light trucks by 2025 and slash the pollution they produce. And these new vehicle efficiency and pollution standards don’t just turn climate disruption around; they create jobs and put money in Americans’ pockets. 



I don’t need to say much about the climate problem. This summer we’ve seen record breaking heat, drought and wildfires. We’ve got to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution we produce. A great place to start is with passenger cars and light trucks, which are responsible for about half the roughly 19 million barrels of oil the U.S. burns each day. Doubling fuel economy of our cars, which these rules will do, will save 3.1 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. That’s how much oil we currently import from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela. 



Automakers have embraced these new standards because they understand that technological innovation is the key to selling cars that people want. It was their leadership building high efficiency cars that put U.S. automakers back on top three years after the financial crisis almost toppled GM and Chrysler. Today they have advanced technologies ready to deploy to reach the administration’s new goals, including start-stop technology, aerodynamic design, and lighter materials that slash oil use. Automakers are also offering plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles that use little to no oil at all. And the revitalized, technology-driven auto industry will also drive job growth. According to a study by labor and environmental groups in the Blue Green Alliance, the new standards will result in 570,000 new jobs across America.



Americans will save $8,000 in fuel costs alone over the lifetime of a vehicle sold in 2025 compared to the average vehicle on the road today, even after paying for new fuel saving technology. And those technology costs, like seatbelts and airbags, will only come down. A recent study by the Consumer Federation of America found that fuel efficiency was the most important factor for Americans in choosing a new car. 

Sierra Club voiced our support for new standards in January along with veterans, health professionals, small business owners and concerned citizens at public hearings held around the country. The Obama Administration heard us and is delivering strong fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards that Americans strongly support. It feels great to share this good news. A win for the economy, public health and the planet is something to celebrate.

Marx, Ph.D., is director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil Campaign.