Will gas cars soon become a thing of the past?
Last week, the California Air Resources Board voted to ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035 and set targets that would phase them out from 2026 onwards.
The rules will go into effect beginning in 2026 and will not impact any cars currently on the roads. Instead, they focus on the sale of new cars in the state. Starting in 2026, 35% of new cars, SUVs and small pickups sold in California would be required to be zero-emission vehicles. That quota would increase each year. By 2035, the idea is that 100% of cars sold in California that year will be zero-emissions cars. For every car that falls short of targets, automakers will be fined up to $20,000.
This measure is the first of its kind in the United States and one of the first in the world. California is hugely influential in the climate policy space, especially pertaining to transportation. It’s the country’s largest automotive market, and previous legislation has been followed by over a dozen other states in the country. This one seems to be no exception. CNN was told that New York, Oregon, Washington State, and Rhode Island plan to follow in California’s footsteps and New Jersey and Maryland officials said they were currently reviewing the decision.
While Congress recently passed a historic climate change bill, that plan alone will not allow America to reach the 2050 emissions-free target scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. President Biden has urged that individual states also take action alongside the bill. California has heeded the call. This policy will cut greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by more than 50% in 2040 from the levels that were expected without the policy, according to the New York Times.
In an interview, California Governor Newsom called the rule “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it.” Governor Newsom first signed an executive order demanding all cars sold in the state be zero emissions in 2020, so the vote follows years of work within the state. It was also aided by President Biden, who earlier this year reinstated California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards following President Trump’s reversal of the long-standing rule. However, there are currently 17 Attorney Generals in Republican States that are challenging California’s ability to set their own climate policy. The rule could also be reversed by any future presidents who disagree with President Biden’s assessment of California’s policy autonomy.