SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that will ban the sale and manufacturing of new gas-only cars in 2035. The mandate, leveled at combatting climate change, will require all new vehicles sold in the Golden State to be zero-emissions.
California’s transportation sector has contributed to at least 50 percent carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, contributing to rising climates and hampering air quality, the governor said Wednesday. By eliminating gas-only vehicles, total greenhouse gas emissions would be limited by more than a third, significantly reducing tailpipe pollution.
The California governor’s decision to sign an order over the legislative process is one of the most aggressive actions taken to tackle climate change within the United States.
“I don’t know of any other state in this country that’s been more forceful and forthright in establishing an anchor and a consciousness around climate change,” Newsom said.
The ban is likely to draw criticism from a number automobile manufacturers and Republican leaders in the nation, who have previously pushed back on the state’s strict fuel economy policies. Currently, the Trump administration is battling California over whether the state can impose such regulations.
The Democratic governor has directed the California Air Resources Board to write regulations requiring that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California in 2035 be zero-emission vehicles.
Within 15 years, gas-vehicle manufacturers in the state with either have to make the switch to zero-emissions or be forced to cease operations in California; however, the sale of used cars will still be permitted.
“You can still keep your internal combustion engine car,” Newsom said. “You can still trade and transfer those cars — we’re not taking anything away.”
And the executive order doesn’t just aim to de-carbonize the vehicle market, Newsom plans to prioritize green tech, an industry that he says has already outpaced fossil fuel jobs in California.
The state is home to some 34 manufacturers of electric vehicles and facilitates 50 percent of all electric vehicle purchases in the nation. California alone has put 725,000 zero emission cars on the road, Newsom said.
“No state comes close,” he said. “…This is the next big global industry and California wants to dominate it.”
These manufacturers already produce cars that would be allowed under Newsom’s 2035 order, which include battery-powered electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell-run cars and hybrids, which still use some gasoline or diesel in addition to electricity.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in a statement. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. You deserve to have a car that doesn’t give your 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.”
Newsom also addressed concerns surrounding the high price tag typically affixed to electric and hybrid vehicles, assuring that the technology to reduce the costs of zero-emission cars would be available in 15 years. He added that the state would likely devise a plan to incentive drivers to make the switch through credit opportunities and vouchers.
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) applauded Newsom’s order, having authored his own legislative effort, AB 1745, in 2018, which would have banned the sale of new, gas-powered vehicles by 2040.
“The hazy, orange sky we woke up to earlier this month was alarming and hammered home the urgency of our climate crisis,” Ting said in a statement Wednesday. “If we want clean air, we need clean cars.”
The order follows similar pledges by countries including the United Kingdom and France to eliminate emissions and reduce green house gases. California ride-share company, Uber, has also vowed to eliminate gas-only cars from its vehicle fleet, planning to enforce the change even sooner, by 2030 in the U.S.
“The pandemic has caused many cities to rethink their infrastructure, transforming parking into parks and creating more space for walkers and cyclists,” said Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi in Sept. 8 news release. “We’ve had a glimpse of what life could be like with less traffic and cleaner air—in cities built for people, not for cars.”
READ MORE: Uber Vows To Switch To 100% Electric Vehicles By 2030
As for climate change, the announcement comes after tensions soared in recent weeks as an unprecedented fire season continued to wreak havoc across the state, fueled by searing temperatures upwards of 120 degrees in Los Angeles and 130 degrees in Death Valley, shattering national records.
Newsom has become increasingly more aggressive toward those who have denied climate change, repeating that he has “zero-tolerance” for the disbelief in the scientific evidence backing the prevalence of climate change.
“I don’t think science knows, actually,” President Donald Trump said during a visit to the Golden State in mid September, informing a roundtable of fire and forestry experts that poor forest management was to blame for the catastrophic fire season, not rising climates.
“Data and science are not beliefs,” Newsom has said, taking aim at the Trump Administration. “You have to acknowledge facts.”
And Newsom has repeatedly pointed that climates have already been rising sharply in California alone, during the summer and winter months, since 1980.
And while the state is fighting a battle over the issue of emission standards with the Trump administration, Newsom pointed out that Republicans once led the charge on limiting carbon emissions under former President Richard Nixon in 1967.
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