On Thursday, President Joe Biden took a step toward his goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by signing an executive order requiring half of all new vehicles produced in 2030 to be electric, a measure backed by the nation’s largest automakers.
The administration also proposed new car emissions regulations that would reduce pollution through 2026, beginning with a 10% rise in the model year 2023.
The actions are part of Biden’s broader plan to fight climate change, in this case by targeting emissions from cars and trucks, while working to make the United States an industry leader as China moves to dominate the electric vehicle market.
“The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future. We can’t sit by,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
The 50% target, which is not legally binding, won the support of U.S. and foreign automakers, which said that achieving it would require billions of dollars in government funding.
An environmental group, the Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said the White House did not go far enough and called automakers’ commitment to a non-binding target unreliable.
General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Chrysler parent Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) said in a joint statement they aspired “to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles … by 2030.” Reuters reported the planned automaker announcement on Tuesday.
The goals of both Biden and the automakers include battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles that also have a gasoline engine.
Biden has repeatedly resisted calls from many Democrats to set a binding requirement for EV adoption or to follow California and some countries in setting 2035 as a date to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered light-duty vehicles in the face of opposition by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
UAW President Ray Curry, who attended the event, noted the EV goal but said the union was focused “on preserving the wages and benefits that have been the heart and soul of the American middle class.”
After signing the executive order on the South Lawn of the White House, Biden jumped into a waiting EV Jeep, which he proceeded to drive rapidly around the grounds.