Delivering Zero Emissions Communities Program Announces Winning Cities

Chicago, San Diego, and San José have won financial and technical support to reach 100 percent zero emissions commercial vehicles by 2030

SAN FRANCISCO —  Chicago, San Diego, and San José have won spots in the newly-launched Delivering Zero Emissions Communities program. Through this one-year accelerator program, the cities will join with community partners to take bold, concrete, and immediate action toward the goal of 100 percent zero emissions commercial vehicles by 2030.

Winning cities will receive financial support from the Zero Now Fund—a pooled fund of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, ClimateWorks, and Tempest Advisors—as well as technical support from CALSTART, Delivery Associates, Energy Foundation, International Council on Clean Transportation, and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Technical support will be tailored to the needs and goals of each city and may include policy development, charging infrastructure planning, community engagement, implementation assistance, guidance sourcing federal funding opportunities, as well as connections to industry.

“The Delivering Zero Emissions Communities program is about ambitious, immediate, impactful action to reduce diesel pollution,” said Amanda Eaken, the transportation director of the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge at NRDC. “Mayors Lightfoot, Gloria, and Liccardo know that vague goals and far-off promises aren’t good enough for residents who live near highways and freight hubs and experience the daily health consequences of toxic air pollution. That’s why we’re joining together to rapidly transition to zero emissions commercial vehicles that will keep our air clean and our communities safe while also paving a path for cities and states across the country to follow.”

“As Chicago continues to recover from COVID-19, it is critical that we achieve a green economic recovery through balancing economic growth with sustainable innovation," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "Through the City's participation in this program, we will drive sustainable and equitable solutions for our city that prioritize mitigating air pollution in historically overburdened communities."

Chicago will use support from the program to work toward zero emissions commercial vehicles in overburdened communities through a redesigned Drive Clean Chicago program, a cargo e-bike pilot, and a program to incentivize businesses to transition completely to electric fleets.

​​“The City of San Diego is honored to be part of this important program that focuses on tackling the significant air quality and climate challenges for our most impacted residents and communities,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “This grant opportunity will enable a much-needed shift in decision-making power towards impacted communities and protect our quality of life for the next generation and beyond.”

San Diego will use support from the program to develop a Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Blueprint that shifts decision-making power to communities most impacted by diesel pollution and identifies barriers and solutions to the electric vehicle transition.

"San José’s participation in this bold partnership helps address the urgent need to tackle climate change now, while accelerating the city's current efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. “The funding from the Delivering Zero Emissions Communities program will help protect our planet and our neighbors, particularly in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. We are grateful to our partners in this continued climate crisis."

San José will use support from the program to launch an Equity Task Force with community members, create an Urban Freight Working Group with private-sector partners, design a Zero Emissions Neighborhood pilot program, and pass a zero emissions resolution in San José City Council.

The transition to zero emissions trucks is essential to clean up the dirty air that is making our communities sick. Gas- and diesel-powered trucks belch black smoke that is filled with toxic air pollution, contains more than 40 known carcinogens, and leads to smog and soot. This pollution leads to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases—including asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes—and can cause premature death.

Pollution from gas- and diesel-powered trucks is especially prevalent in communities of color and low-income communities, which are more likely to be located near freeways and freight hubs. Pollution also disproportionately harms those who work in and alongside these trucks, such as railroad employees, truck drivers, and longshoremen.

The EPA is considering a national truck emission standard; however, due to regulatory requirements, the earliest that rule would come into effect is 2027. We cannot afford to wait, especially as increased shipping of goods across the country leads to more trucks on the road and more pollution. Even as state and federal governments consider how to transition to electric trucks, cities must take responsibility for this ever-growing issue.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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