Did U.S. Supreme Court Undercut EPA Authority? EU Approves End of Gas Vehicle Sales by 2035, Australia Joins the Real World, Listener Call to Action!

by | Jul 4, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Did U.S. Supreme Court undercut EPA authority in WVA vs. EPA ruling? Plus, EU approves end of internal combustion vehicle sales by 2035, and Australia joins the real world. Also, listener call to action!



Admittedly, last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency in WVA v. EPA cast a pall over climate change combatants worldwide. It created a particularly dour moment for us in American. But as B Michael Gerrard, founder and faculty director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, said in an email to Bloomberg Green, all hope is not lost.

“This is a very limited decision. It doesn’t undercut EPA’s other authorities to regulate greenhouse gases, such as imposing limits on motor vehicles (the largest source of GHG emissions), factories, and oil and gas production. EPA also has other tools to control pollution from coal-fired power plants.” 

Said EPA chief Michael S. Regan in a statement that while the ruling was disheartening, “The EPA will move forward with lawfully setting and implementing environmental standards that meet our obligation to protect all people and all communities from environmental harm.” The agency retains the authority to regulate emissions from individual power plants, but now must move forward more judiciously. Even before the ruling, EPA officials were planning new rules to regulate plant emissions, taking a narrower approach that would be focused squarely on coal- and gas-fired power plants, without bringing in non-emitting renewable electricity. 

Why does the court’s 6-3 ruling matter to us? Bad news, good news. Bad news—it now makes it much harder for President Joe Biden to fulfill his pledge for the US to halve greenhouse-gas emissions by the end of the decade, despite a shrinking window to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. 

Good news: It’s unlikely to stop the electricity sector’s accelerating shift away from fossil fuels from slowing because market forces are what’s driving that industry to transition to clean energy. Keep hope alive.

DEEPER DIVE: Bloomberg Green, WVA vs. EPA Ruling, EPA Response



Huge news further signaling the end of the fossil fuel age, just last week the European Union approved a plan to end the sale of vehicles with combustion engines by 2035 in Europe, the 27-member bloc announced, in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions to zero. The measure, first proposed in July 2021, will mean a de facto halt to sales of GAS and diesel cars as well as light commercial vehicles and a complete shift to electric engines in the European Union from 2035.

Cars are the main mode of transport for Europeans and account for just under 15 percent of total CO2 emissions in the EU. The plan is intended to help achieve the continent’s climate objectives, in particular, carbon neutrality by 2050. At the request of countries including Germany and Italy, the EU-27 also agreed to consider a future green light for the use of alternative technologies such as synthetic fuels or plug-in hybrids.

Environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg also approved a five-year extension of the exemption from CO2 obligations granted to so-called “niche” manufacturers, or those producing fewer than 10,000 vehicles per year, until the end of 2035. The clause, sometimes referred to as the “Ferrari amendment”, will benefit luxury brands in particular.

Why does this EU plan to phase out ICE sales by 2035 matter to us? Last year, as reported by The Climate Daily, Portugal proposed a ban on all fossil-fuel car sales in that country by2035. This proposal extends that ban throughout all of the EU, forcing the world’s second largest market into a decarbonized vehicle future.




Last year, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose last year by 0.8%, or 4.1 million metric tons (4.5 million U.S. tons). It’s been described one of the biggest emissions spikes in 15 years and blamed the previous government’s inaction during nine years in office. But now, according to a story in the Associated Press, Australia’s new government is putting climate change at the top of its legislative agenda when Parliament sits next month for the first time since the May 21 election, with bills to enshrine a cut in greenhouse gas emissions and make electric cars cheaper, a minister said on Wednesday.

A bill will be introduced to commit Australia to reducing its emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030 when Parliament sits on July 26, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen told the National Press Club. Another bill would abolish import tariffs and taxes for electric vehicles that are cheaper than the luxury car threshold of 77,565 Australian dollars ($53,580).

Only 1.5% of cars sold in Australia are electric or plug-in hybrid, and passenger cars account for almost 10% of the nation’s emissions, the government said. The new center-left Labor Party government expects EVs will account for 89% of Australian new car sales by 2030. In addition, the government’s fleet will be converted to 75% no-emission vehicles, bolstering a second-hand EV market as government vehicles are sold after three years.

The new government has already officially informed the United Nations of Australia’s more ambitious 2030 target than the previous conservative Liberal Party-led administration had pursued, a reduction of 26% to 28%. Greens leader Adam Bandt has said he will push the government to ban new coal mines and gas projects when that target legislation is negotiated. The Greens want Australian emissions reduced by 75% by 2030.

DEEPER DIVE: Mainichi.jp, EVWorld



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