The Trump administration is rolling back the US government’s strongest attempt to combat the climate crisis, weakening rules which compel auto companies to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Critics say the move will lead to more life-threatening air pollution and force Americans to spend more on gasoline.

The changes to Obama-era regulations will allow vehicles to emit about a billion more tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide – equivalent to roughly a fifth of annual US emissions.

The rollback is one of dozens Trump officials have ushered to completion, seeking to bolster the fossil fuel industry amid intense opposition from Democratic-led states and pushback from world leaders.

Experts say the world is far off track in dealing with the climate emergency, following a year of record-breaking heat, rising hunger, displacement and loss of life due to extreme temperatures and weather disasters.

Donald Trump is expected to laud the new rule as a boost to the US economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. His administration says weakening the standards will make cars about $1,000 cheaper, leading Americans to buy new and safer models more frequently and resulting in fewer crash fatalities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief, Andrew Wheeler, said in a statement: “Now, more than ever, this country needs a sensible national program that strikes the right regulatory balance for the environment, the auto industry, the economy, safety, and American families.

“[This rule] does all of those things by improving fuel economy, continuing to reduce air pollution, and making new vehicles more affordable for all Americans.”

Read the rest of Emily Holden’s article here at the Guardian