California unveils proposal to ban new gas-powered cars by 2035

Morning traffic moves along a freeway in Los Angeles, California, September 19, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

California’s clean air regulators this week unveiled a plan that would increase the sale of electric and zero-emission vehicles while phasing out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, in an aggressive effort to tackle pollution by the state’s greenhouse gases.

The proposal, if passed by the California Air Resources Board, would require 35% of new passenger vehicle sales to be powered by batteries or hydrogen by 2026, and 100% of sales to be zero-emissions net less than a decade later. The proposal also calls for zero-emission sales to account for 68% of total sales by 2030.

Switching the transportation sector to cleaner energy is a key part of the state’s plan to fight climate change, as cars, trucks and other vehicles account for about 40% of its pollution.

Sales of electric vehicles in the state reached 12.4% of total sales last year, down from 7.8% in 2020, according to the council.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal in August. At least 15 states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, have adopted California’s vehicle standards over previous clean car rules.

The plan follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order in 2020 that called for phasing out new internal combustion engine cars within 15 years by requiring all such vehicle sales to be zero emissions by 2035.

The rule would not prohibit people from owning gas-powered vehicles or selling them on the used market.

“With Californians still experiencing the harmful effects of smog-forming emissions and the effects of climate change, which are expected to worsen over the coming decades, the adoption of the ACC II project [Advanced Clean Cars II] regulation is essential and necessary,” the state plan states.

Newsom, while signing the executive order, said the plan could reduce emissions from state cars by more than 35% and that zero-emission vehicles would “almost certainly” be cheaper than gas-powered vehicles at the time. where the regulations will come into force.

“Building on 30 years of work to electrify light-duty vehicles in California, the market is clearly poised for a massive transformation,” the plan says.

California, which is grappling with worsening wildfires and drought as temperatures rise, also has a goal of moving to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Some environmental groups have urged the council to set even tougher targets and move faster to electric vehicles, arguing that the state should impose a rule to achieve 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, five years later. sooner than the current proposal.

“Time is running out before the world disappears in the rearview mirror,” Scott Hochberg, a transportation attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement.

“To protect people and the planet, California needs to free our streets from tailpipe pollution as quickly as possible,” Hochberg said.

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