California Passes First Zero-Emissions Forklift Rule in the U.S.

New standard will lift a load of smog by shifting 89,000 forklifts to zero emissions, saving the lives of 544 Californians


Zoe Woodcraft,, (818) 606-7509

Today the California Air Resources Board unanimously voted to pass the Zero-Emission Forklifts Regulation, which covers forklifts used in warehouses and large retailers such as IKEA and Home Depot. The new standard will deliver immense health, clean air, and economic benefits to Californians by phasing out large spark-ignition Class IV and Class V forklifts. The rule is slated to cut 18,700 tons of smog-forming NOx emissions and prevent the premature deaths of 544 Californians, delivering an astounding $7.5 billion in health benefits over the lifetime of the regulation from 2028 to 2038.

“The California rule to electrify forklifts takes care of a critical link in building a zero-emissions supply chain. The new standard will lift a load of smog from our skies,” said Regina Hsu, an attorney on Earthjustice’s Right To Zero campaign. “Zero-emissions forklifts are ready to get to work, but it requires innovative leadership from agencies like the California Air Resources Board to shift these sectors to clean solutions. In the big picture, we can move goods in the U.S. without polluting our lungs or cooking the planet.”

A large coalition of environmental and community health groups organized to encourage the California Air Resources Board to shape the strongest possible regulation, including East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Pacific Environment, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice, Sierra Club, the West Long Beach Association, the San Pedro & Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, and the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma.

The new forklifts rule also stands to deliver strong climate benefits by cutting 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of emissions from driving 2 million gas-powered cars or running 22 methane gas-fired power plants for a year.

A range of electric forklift models are already available to companies, with electric forklifts making up 65% of the North American forklift market. Toyota Material Handling recently broke ground on a $100 million facility for electric forklift production in the U.S.

A man wearing a hard hat and safety glasses uses a large yellow forklift to lift large sheets of metal.
A forklift is used to move sheets of steel from a stack. (Thomas Barwick / Getty Images)

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.