New York should accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks

New York should accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks

On the heels of COP26, Governor Hochul has made it clear New Yorkers need to work together to tackle climate change in the state. And New York is taking steps to prioritize climate and clean air. Back in September, the Department of Environmental Conservation introduced the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which requires manufacturers to produce and sell a percentage of new electric trucks annually until 2035. Since the process began, there has been a 60-day public comment period, over of 2035. as the Environmental Defense Fund testified at a public hearing and made joint comments with key stakeholders.

The ACT is a critical first step toward eliminating exhaust emissions from new trucks and making the air cleaner and more breathable in neighborhoods across the state. But it is not – and it should not be – the only means of mobilizing the market for zero-emission medium and heavy vehicles and reducing pollution. A number of complementary policies need to be put in place to enable a cost-effective, fair and sustainable transition to clean vehicles.

New York needs zero-emission trucks

Transportation is a leading source of air pollution in New York, accounting for 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions across the state. And while trucks make up only 5% of the state’s 10.6 million registered vehicles, emissions from this sector are disproportionately high relative to the population.

ACT is more than good transport policy

Switching trucks from diesel engines to electric motors is one of New York’s most powerful options for reducing climate pollution, boosting economic growth and improving equality and public health. To achieve this goal, the state should move as quickly as possible to adopt the ACT by the end of this year to avoid delays in implementation that would prevent New York from reaping important health and environmental benefits.

Exposure to air pollution has been linked to asthma and an increased risk of death due to Covid-19, especially for those residents who are closest to major roads, warehouses and other pollution hotspots and major urban areas. According to the American Lung Association, a widespread transition to medium and heavy and light zero-emission vehicles would prevent 351 premature deaths, over 5,000 asthma attacks and nearly 25,000 lost workdays by 2050 in New York, meaning that over $ 4 billion in public health advantage. In addition, the medium and heavy vehicle sector – which already employs nearly 6,000 New Yorkers – is expected to hire more residents as the state shifts to zero-emission trucks.

The importance of ensuring that this transition prioritises communities most affected by harmful air pollution cannot be overestimated. In fact, emissions affect disproportionately low incomes and color communities as they are more likely to live near freight corridors, warehouses and distribution centers and ports where they are exposed to higher levels of pollution. So it is particularly important to ensure that the transition to zero-emission trucks is facilitated in a fair way – by prioritizing the transition in low-income and environmental justice communities that are at higher risk of asthma and premature death.

New York has made significant progress in reducing pollution and ensuring climate, health and justice benefits for all its inhabitants. The state outlines some of the ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases in the United States in its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and dedicated Volkswagen mitigating measures to electrify the transportation sector. Last year, New York joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia to advance the market for zero-emission medium and heavy vehicles, committing the state to a goal of 100% zero-emission truck and bus sales.

Other policies should accompany the ACT for better, long-term results

The ACT will help achieve the goals set by New York in the CLCPA and provide much-needed political security to market participants who are concerned about a transition to zero-emission vehicles without a clear path to make the transition. But it can not do this by itself. By adopting the ACT along with other policies, such as the Heavy-Duty Omnibus Rule and the Advanced Clean Fleets Rule, New York can reduce energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector, decarbonize and modernize the state’s energy system, and bring well-paid jobs to the state.


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