California plans to ban sale of gasoline cars by 2035, launch zero-emission alternatives to curb climate change
'We have a strategy to be as bold as the problem is big, to recognize that we have agency. We’re not just victims of fate,' Newsom said
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order, asking automakers to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035 and make way for zero-emission alternatives such as electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.
"This [clean energy] is the next big global industry. And California wants to dominate it.” Newsom said at a news conference on 24 September. "We have a strategy to be as bold as the problem is big, to recognize that we have agency. We’re not just victims of fate," he added.
Calfornia is bearing the brunt of climate change. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), temperatures in Southern California are up by about three degrees (F) in the last century. The while state is also becoming warmer. As a result, wildfires have worsened in magnitude. California has witnessed over 8,000 wildfires that have burned over 3.6 million acres. As of 24 September 2020, firefighters are battling 26 major wildfires, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on its website.
The transportation sector has contributed more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution: 80% of smog-forming pollution, and 95% of toxic diesel emissions. Fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel release carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons into the atmosphere. These heat-trapping gases, in turn, contribute to a warming climate.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “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. 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.”
"In the midst of a historic wildfire crisis, Governor Newsom is taking strong action to protect California's economy and the health of its people," Fred Krupp, the president of Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. "His announcement today will not only address the single largest source of climate and air pollution in California but is a major step toward boosting his state's economic competitiveness and helping Californians who are suffering extraordinary harms from air pollution," he added.
Newsom has tasked the California Air Resources Board with developing regulations to ensure that 100% of new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state are zero-emission by 2035, which could cut more than a 35% greenhouse gas emissions.
"To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options," a press statement read. "It also requires the support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad access to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the use."
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobby group, said neither bans nor mandates would help. "Much more needs to be done to increase consumer demand for Zero-Emission Vehicles in order for California to reach its goals. It will require increased infrastructure, incentives, fleet requirements, building codes, and much more," John Bozzella, the alliance’s chief executive, said in a statement.