California, the nation’s most populous state and the center of US car culture will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles beginning in 2035, marking a historic step in the state’s battle against climate change.
The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board on Thursday, will force automakers to accelerate production of cleaner vehicles starting in 2026 until only sales of zero-emission cars, trucks and SUVs are allowed in the state.
The unanimous vote comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom set a 2020 goal to accelerate the phase-out of internal combustion engines. The transportation sector represents the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, which has suffered unprecedented wildfires, droughts and air pollution made worse by climate change.
The decision is expected to have a major impact beyond California and likely pave the way for other states to follow suit. At least 15 states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, have adopted California’s vehicle standards in previous clean vehicle rules.
The regulation, which was approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in a vote on Thursday, could have massive repercussions for the country’s auto manufacturing industry and the broader fight against climate change.
Transportation is the nation’s largest source of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, and scientists have said in increasingly dire language that drastic cuts in those emissions are crucial to providing a livable future in the planet.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of making half of the nation’s new sales zero-emissions by 2030. The recently enacted Reducing Inflation Act aims to move consumers that way by providing tax credits. to people looking to buy new or used electric vehicles, but there aren’t so many caveats, on everything from the income level of buyers to the models that may qualify, that many electric vehicles may not be eligible for the benefit.
What 2035 California Gasoline Car Ban Does
The details of the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC2) regulation include not only a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs after 2035, but many other incentives and targets to ensure minimum standards and encourage both new and sale of used electric vehicles. These include warranty, durability, serviceability, optimized charging, and battery labelling requirements.
Here are some of the details:
- Electric vehicles must come with a charging cable.
- Adapters should be available for standardized public chargers (eg Tesla’s upcoming CCS adapter).
- Used vehicles should have battery health metrics so buyers know what they’re getting.
- Batteries must have 70% range for 10 years/150,000 miles (80% after 2030 model year)
- Warranties must guarantee 70% of battery capacity for 8 years/100,000 miles (75% in 2031 model year).
- Electric vehicle repair information must be disclosed to independent repair shops.
Auto industry analysts say California’s unprecedented move could help propel the auto market toward that goal. Thirteen other states, including Oregon, New York and Colorado, normally follow California’s auto emissions standards, which are already the strictest in the country. Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that his state will set a similar goal of banning new gasoline-powered car sales by 2035.
Thursday’s decision follows a climate bill signed by President Joe Biden last week that provides hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for clean energy programs.
Biden and his Democratic Party are thus rushing to recover the ground in climate policy that they consider were lost under the administration of his predecessor Donald Trump, who pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement and reversed what environmentalists described as an already weak process in the reduction of fossil fuel emissions that drive global warming.
Newson, a leading figure within the Democratic Party who is rumoured to have presidential ambitions, welcomed the decision. “California now has an innovative, world-leading roadmap to reduce dangerous carbon emissions and phase out fossil fuels,” the governor said.
Reducing the number of gasoline and diesel cars on the road is equivalent to “915 million barrels of oil emissions that will not pollute our communities.” “With the historic $10 billion we’re investing in accelerating the transition … we’re making it easier and cheaper for all Californians to buy electric vehicles.”
In recent years, jurisdictions around the world, especially Europe, have set their sights on the polluting automotive sector.
Norway aims for all its new vehicles to produce zero tailpipe emissions by 2025. The UK, Singapore and Israel target 2030, while the European Union wants to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.
Human-caused global warming has already increased average temperatures across the planet, affecting weather patterns and worsening natural hazards like wildfires and storms. Scientists say radical action is needed to limit the damage and that focusing on cutting fossil fuel emissions is key in that battle.
Environmental groups praised the decision Thursday, though some argued the board needed to set even tougher targets to meet the urgency of the climate crisis. Some groups had previously urged the board to impose a rule to achieve 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, five years ahead of the current regulation.
“This rule needed to coincide with the urgency of the climate crisis and instead leaves Californians making slow progress in the slow lane,” said Scott Hochberg, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, in a statement.
“California needs to get tough on gas cars instead of ignoring them, and switch to electric vehicles much sooner or see our climate stability fade,” Hochberg said.
Daniel Barad, the senior California policy advocate at the Sierra Club, said in a statement that the rule is “an important step toward breathable air in California communities, and will be critical for the state to meet its climate goals and safety goals reduction of emissions”.
“Other states should move quickly to join California in adopting this life-saving rule that will improve air quality and help curb the climate crisis,” Barad said.
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