In a drastic step to significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions, California is expected to ban the sale of new gas powered vehicles by 2035. It’s a huge move from a state that buys the most trucks and cars in the entire country, and which is often a national trendsetter for environmental standards.
“It’s ambitious, it’s pioneering, it’s what we must do if we’re going to leave this planet better for future generations,” Lauren Sanchez, senior climate adviser to Newsom, said during a conference call this week, as reported by Axios.
The California Air Resources Board is set to vote on the measure Thursday afternoon. If passed, the ban will be enacted in phases over the next 13 years: 35% of new cars sold by 2026 must be gas-free, 68% of cars sold by 2030 must be gas-free, and by 2035, 100% of new cars sold must be gas-free. The ruling will not affect cars that are currently on California’s roads, just new cars that will be sold in the future.
The vote comes two years after Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that banned the sale of cars with internal combustion engines. This is despite the fact that California is the second largest consumer of gasoline in the country according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The state is tackling car-based emissions because 50% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, according to California’s Energy Commission. Transportation also makes up about 90% of the state’s diesel particulate matter pollution, which is exhaust from trucks, buses, and other vehicles with diesel engines. Long-term exposure to this form of pollution is connected to cardiovascular and respiratory health issues. The state’s lawmakers site this, and long term climate impacts for their push to change car standards.
“For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma,”said Governor Newsom in a 2020 press release about the proposed ban. “Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
And though California is the country’s largest car market, it’s also a growing market for electric cars. The state accounts for 39% of all EVs and has the highest rate of electric vehicle adoption, but those cars only make up 2% of all the cars on the road in California, Axios reported. There is hope for the transition, especially because many states often follow California’s lead in auto emission standards.
Other efforts have been proposed in the state to curb car-based emissions, mitigate climate change, and improve public health. This past June, L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz proposed a ban on new gas stations in the city. The proposal was inspired after the city of Petaluma, California became the first place in the U.S. to ban new stations.