In an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% and reduce nitrous oxide emissions from cars statewide by 80%, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero emission by 2035.
The proposed rule would not ban people from owning gas-powered cars or selling them on the used car market, but it would end the sales of all new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks in the state.
At least 15 countries have made similar commitments already, including Germany, France and Norway. And California already has rules mandating a certain percentage of new car sales must be electric or zero-emission vehicles. But the new rule, if implemented, would make California the first U.S. state with a plan to phase gas-powered cars out completely.
In addition, the order states that the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will be 100% zero emission by 2045 “where feasible,” with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks.
Newsom also directed state agencies to speed up development of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the state and called on the Legislature to eliminate new fracking licenses by 2024. State agencies will also develop strategies for “an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.”
The news comes as wildfires burn throughout the state. Since the start of 2020, there have been well over 8,000 wildfires that have burned over 3.6 million acres in California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Since Aug. 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 26 fatalities and over 6,600 structures destroyed.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said 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.”