California moves to ban cars using gas
Governor sets 15-year goal to stop selling new vehicles that consume fossil fuels
California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, in a sweeping move aimed at accelerating the state’s efforts to combat global warming amid a deadly and record-breaking wildfire season.
In an executive order, Newsom directed regulators to develop a plan that would require automakers to sell steadily more zero-emissions passenger vehicles in the state, such as battery-powered or hydrogen-powered cars and pickups, until they made up 100 percent of new auto sales just 15 years from today.
The plan would also set a goal for all heavy-duty trucks on the road in California to be zero emissions by 2045 where possible. And the order directs the state’s transportation agencies to look for near-term actions to reduce Californian’s reliance on driving by, for example, expanding access to mass transit and biking.
“This is the next big global industry,” Newsom said at a news conference Wednesday, referring to clean-energy technologies such as electric vehicles. “And California wants to dominate it.”
California has long cast itself as a global leader on climate-change policy, having already passed a law to get 100 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other sources that don’t produce carbon dioxide by 2045. In recent weeks, as the state has been scorched by record wildfires partly driven by rising temperatures, Newsom has found himself pressured to act even faster.
Ramping up sales of emissions-free vehicles in California will be an enormous challenge over a relatively short period of time, experts said. Last year, only about 8 percent of the nearly 2 million passenger vehicles sold statewide were battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Transportation remains California’s largest source of planet-warming emissions, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gases from human activity.
“We have a strategy to be as bold as the problem is big, to recognize that we have agency,” Newsom said at the news conference, where he stood before a glittering half circle of electric cars. “We’re not just victims of fate.”
In addition to setting new standards for automakers in the state, California will also likely need to increase financial incentives for people to afford electric vehicles and significantly expand its charging infrastructure, said Don Anair, deputy director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.
“It’s feasible, but it’s going to take California pulling all the levers at its disposal,” Anair said.
The order would affect only new-vehicle sales, the governor’s office said. It would not prevent Californians from owning cars with internal combustion engines past 2035 or selling them.