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California, 4 automakers reach framework agreement on GHG standards; slight FE weakening, no upstream emissions calculations

As the Trump administration prepares to freeze emission standards for light-duty cars and trucks, a consortium of four automakers—Ford, Honda, BMW of North America and Volkswagen Group of America—and California have agreed on a voluntary framework to reduce emissions that could serve as an alternative path forward for clean vehicle standards nationwide.

The agreement slightly weakens the current standards by decreasing the original fuel economy increases year-over-year and moves the current 2025 requirement to 2026, resulting in slightly less aggressive year-over-year reductions. (That is, changing the original year-over-year 4.7% GHG reduction over four years to 3.7% over five years.)

Of the 3.7% annual stringency, 1% can be achieved using advanced technology multiplier credits. This would continue current advanced technology multipliers that now expire after MY 2021, extending them through MY 2024 at the current 2.0x for Battery Electric and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (BEV/FCEV), and 1.6x for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), tapering off at the current MY 2020 and MY 2021 levels in MY 2025 and MY 2026, respectively.

Other elements of the agreement are:

  • Raise the current cap on off-cycle menu credits, which account for actions taken outside the formal test cycle framework, from 10 grams per mile to 15 grams per mile starting in MY 2020.

  • Simplify compliance by removing the requirement to consider upstream GHG emissions associated with the production of the electricity used by electric vehicles when calculating the GHG emissions for a carmaker’s fleet.

  • Participating companies are choosing to pursue a voluntary agreement in which California accepts these terms as compliance with its program, given its authority, rather than challenge California’s GHG and ZEV programs.

This agreement represents a feasible and acceptable path to accomplishing the goals of California and the automobile industry. If the White House does not agree, we will move forward with our current standards but work with individual carmakers to implement these principles. At the same time, if the current federal vehicle standards proposal is finalized, we will continue to enforce our regulations and pursue legal challenges to the federal rule.

—California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols



>> Simplify compliance by removing the requirement to consider upstream GHG emissions associated with the production of the electricity used by electric vehicles when calculating the GHG emissions for a carmaker’s fleet.

That is a very big deal and a big fudge. It means you can treat electricity as 0 gms / KwH when it is nothing like that.
As they say, "it's complicated", i.e. in locations with lots of hydro or nuclear, the CO2 rating is low, if lots of coal it is high etc, + is changing, and should be reducing as more wind and solar is brought onto the grid.
However, it isn't that complicated in aggregate, all they have to do is use the overall figure for the whole of the USA for the previous year. This might be (say) 300-500 gms / Kwh. This makes EVs look less good, but it is closer to the truth than pretending that they go not generate any pollution when generating their electricity.


For California with very low coal utilization and many EV owners having solar it will be lower than most states. If you're going that way though, let's calculate the CO2 emitted transporting gas to the stations, and for all the gas and diesel vehicles involved in the drilling and processing industries etc.


“However, it isn't that complicated in aggregate,”

That is absurd. 20% of all US plugins are sold in Northern California and we get 0% of our electricity from coal. ~50% of all US plugins are sold in California and we get ~4.1% of our electricity from coal. In a few months it will drop to 1.7% and in 2021, when this takes effect, we will be down to 0.6% from coal. And all of those numbers are actually probably high by 10% because none of them factor in behind the meter solar.


Then aggregate for California as a separate zone. The principle still applies.
But now, if you scale to the rest of the US, do you do it state by state, or group of states by group. Hence the original single number for the whole of the US.

@Paraway, OK, include the transportation costs for both fossil fuels and electricity transmission.

You don't have to be accurate to two places of decimals, I was just trying to make sure that electricity is not counted as a zero CO2 fuel.
As people have pointed out, it is complicated: it varies by location, time of day, time of year, and it varies over time as the grid mix changes.
The trick is to simplify it to a useful number and get on with reducing the overall CO2 (and other pollutants) output.


Transporting clean electrons from REs via clean very high voltage power lines does not create the same pollution & GHGs as transporting dirty fuel with dirty diesel trucks?


@Gasbag: California imports about a third of its power from out of state. A large chunk of that (about a third) is "unaccounted for," meaning there's no sure knowledge of the actual source. Of the imports, about 30% of those are renewables and the rest are from coal and natural gas. The coal power is supposedly going to phase out, at least for LA, in the next five years, but as there has been no clear replacement plan, that seems unlikely.

So if accounting for ALL of California's power, about 40% of it is from fossil fuels including coal and natural gas and about 10% of California's power cannot be linked to a specific source ("unspecified").

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