California will ban the sale of new, gasoline-powered cars by 2035, an aggressive action by Governor Gavin Newsom to combat the causes of climate change.
The executive order Newsom signed will require that all new passenger vehicles sold in California beginning in 2035 be “zero-emission.” That category currently includes battery-powered electric cars and those running on hydrogen fuel cells. The ban will also include hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that still use some gasoline or diesel in addition to electricity. Older gasoline-powered cars on the road after 2035 and sales of used gasoline-powered cars would still be allowed. The order further directs that all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks be zero-emission by 2045, which aligns with the state’s goal to eliminate all net emissions from its economy by 2045.
The transportation sector makes up more than 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and has been growing despite strong state efforts. Officials estimate that the order would reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third.
However, the order was met with decidedly mixed reactions. The most frequently cited criticism is the state’s electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, which has major gaps in it at the present, and skeptics question the ability of the State to adequately fill those gaps by the deadline. On the other side of the coin, conservation groups claim the order does not go far enough or fast enough – and, that the order fails to curtail petroleum exploration and production. The Trump administration and state Republicans called the order a “job killer.” Finally, key automakers referred questions to their industry lobby, which said the order will not increase consumer demand for electric cars without more robust rebates for buyers.
Legal challenges are also expected based on how state officials write regulations to implement the order. After California announced an agreement with automakers last summer to boost the fuel efficiency of their new models above federal targets, the Trump administration moved to challenge the state’s ability to set stricter emissions standards. California immediately filed suit. The case will have significant implications for Newsom’s current climate policies. If the courts side with the Trump administration, California will lose the authority it has relied on for setting more stringent auto emission standards than many other states, including this order banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles.
More to come on this important issue, which will without doubt have reverberations well past California’s borders.