Pete Buttigieg Says U.S. ‘Focused’ on Reducing Auto Emissions

The United States did not join countries in a pledge to rapidly phase out gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles because the Biden administration is “focused on what we are doing at home,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, said Tuesday.

Speaking at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, where events on Wednesday were focused on transportation, Mr. Buttigieg said the United States was taking steps to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles.

But the pledge by six automakers and about 30 countries to phase out sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 worldwide — and by 2035 in “leading markets” — would move at a faster pace than the Biden administration has called for.

Mr. Biden has signed an executive order aimed at ensuring that 50 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States are electric by 2030, a move made with the support of major automakers.

“Different countries obviously are taking different approaches,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “We have to do what’s right for the United States and also support international action. That’s the balance, I think, that we’re striking.”

Britain, Canada and India are among those that joined the pledge, along with California and Washington State.

Mr. Buttigieg also announced on Tuesday a blueprint for the U.S. aviation sector to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Called the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan, its key initiatives include working with industry to develop more efficient aircraft and engine technologies that could create up to a 30 percent improvement in fuel savings compared to today’s planes, and the expanded use of sustainable fuels including from biomass and other food stocks that could help reduce emissions.

“It’s really about making sure that we use policy tools to encourage the adoption, to get scale big enough that we close the cost gap between conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

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