Data Source: California Air Resources Board, California Greenhouse Gas Inventory - by Sector and Activity; U.S. Energy Information Administration, Analysis by Beacon Economics
  • On-road light-duty vehicles (passenger cars, light-duty trucks & SUVs, and motorcycles) accounted for the lion’s share of the transportation sector’s emissions with 102.8 MMTCO2e altogether. Despite the modest increase of 10.6 percent (+9.9 MMTCO2e) in this sector in 2021 compared to 2020, this represents 70.6 percent of the transportation sector’s total emissions in 2021. This is up from 2020’s 68.5 percent, but down from 70.8 percent in 2019, because Light-duty vehicles exhibited a more substantial decline in emissions, with a reduction of 10.5 percent from 2019 levels. In comparison, heavy-duty vehicles saw a slightly smaller decrease of 9.5 percent over the same period when comparing emissions in 2021 to those in 2019. Specifically, Passenger Cars in the Light Duty Vehicles sector saw the most significant reduction, with a decrease of 12% (-6.5 MMTCO2e) from 2019.
  • Notably, emissions from the heavy-duty trucks subsector decreased year-over-year from 2020 to 2021 by 1.8 percent, and emissions remained 9.1 percent below the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Thanks to advancements in fuel economy and the growing prevalence of zero-emission vehicles, GHG emissions per unit of fuel consumed declined in 2021. This is despite a notable 18.2 percent increase in fuel consumption within the transportation sector from 2020 to 2021. The GHG emissions per unit of fuel consumed were 4.83 MMTCO2e/hundred trillion BTU in 2021, down by 1.4 percent from 2019 and by 9.1 percent from 2020. While the amount of transportation fuel consumed in 2021 (2,785 trillion British thermal units) was similar to 2013 (2,777 trillion British thermal units), transportation emissions were 7.6 percent lower in 2021 compared to 2013, thanks to the state’s continuous efforts to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
  • The federal government is now aligned with California’s goals in electrifying the transportation sector. First, in September 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-79-20, which sets the goal of 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission by 2035.17 Furthermore, in August 2021, President Biden announced a goal of having half of the vehicles sales be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030.18 California surpassed its goal of 1.5 million ZEVs by 2025 in April 2023.19 Additionally, 25 percent of new car sales in Q2 2023 were ZEVs, while ZEV truck sales exceeded goals by 1.5 percent in 2022, making up 7.5 percent of new truck sales.20 Nine more states are following California’s lead in ending the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines.21 The Biden-Harris Administration allocated nearly $150 million across 20 states to upgrade 4,500 public EV chargers, enhancing reliability and accessibility, supporting their goal of 500,000 chargers by 2030.22

17 Specifically, The Executive Order has the following additional goals: (1) 100 percent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible and by 2035 for drayage trucks; (2) California to transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 where feasible. Executive Order N-79-20 can be viewed here:

18 The White House. “FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Steps to Drive American Leadership Forward on Clean Cars and Trucks.” August 5, 2021. Retrieved from: releases/2021/08/05/fact-sheet-president-biden-announces-steps-to-drive-american-leadership-forward-on-clean-cars-and-trucks/

19 Office of Governor. California Surpasses 1.5 millions ZEVs Goal Two Years Ahead of Schedule. April 21, 2023. Assessed Feb 7, 2024. Available at: schedule/

20 Governor of California. California Hits ZEV Truck Sales Goal Two Years Ahead of Schedule. October 23, 2023. Accessed Feb 7, 2024. Retrieved from:

21 CNET. These 9 States Are Banning the Sale of Gas-Powered Cars. Sep 7, 2023. Assessed Feb 7, 2024. Retrieved from:

22 U.S. Department of Transportation. Biden-Harris Administration Announces Grants to Upgrade Almost 4,500 Public Electric Vehicle Chargers. Jan 18, 2024. Assessed Feb 7, 2024. Retrieved from: