Highways have become the latest front in the climate movement. The transportation industry is the most-polluting sector in the US, spewing more than 6,600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution into the air each year. Automakers have a key role to play in addressing the climate crisis – and if they didn’t already know that, they will after today.
That’s because Moms Clean Air Force has joined with consumer, environmental justice, climate, and faith partners, to deliver more than a quarter of a million signatures to automaker CEOs today. Our petitions represent a significant public outcry for them to change course to protect the health, safety, and future of our children.
Back in 2018, in the face of the Trump Administration’s actions to roll back the Clean Car Standards, we reached out to the Big Three automakers – GM, Ford, and Chrysler – to ask them to support these vital clean air protections. We told them that rolling back the Clean Car Standards was a policy U-turn that would harm our kids. It seems our voices were heard by Ford – but not by GM or Chrysler.
In November 2019, the Trump Administration revoked the “California waiver” — California’s longstanding state authority to set stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards than those set by the federal government. And then, the automakers took sides. GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and other major automakers joined the Trump Administration in a lawsuit against the state of California. (Ford, Honda, BMW, and others chose not to square off against our families.) We started collecting names by the thousands of outraged moms, determined to let the automakers know that we expect them to take action against climate change, for the sake of our children.
These automakers are trying to block tighter emission standards. What that means is that they are agreeing with the idea that we need to loosen up on the very polluters that are contributing to climate chaos. Instead of investing in innovation to speed up solutions, they are asking for permission to slack off. Many of our members have expressed a sense of betrayal, as we watch iconic brands urge on the weakening of one of the most important public health regulations we have.
It’s especially galling for families who understand that climate change threatens our children’s health and future. Vanessa Lynch, Moms Clean Air Force’s Pennsylvania organizer, is one of those moms. She put aside money to buy a Toyota hybrid car, and feels now that “the brand’s alignment with the [Trump] administration is extremely disappointing.”
As parents, we have an obligation to prevent harm to our children. Automakers should do everything they can to fight it, including committing to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the transportation sector. Our children’s health and future is on the line. And they have the power to protect them.
You can learn more about the 285,000-strong petition delivered to automakers here.