The future may be closer than we think.
California governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Wednesday aiming to require all light cars and trucks be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035 to combat climate change. The rule would ban the sale of gas-powered light passenger vehicles, shifting instead toward electric and fuel-cell vehicles.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and other state agencies will issue regulations to enforce the executive order, which will not ban people from owning gas-powered cars or buying them used. The governor's office said transportation accounts for 50% of the states greenhouse gas emissions and the measure will cut emissions by more than 35%.
“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... Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
The announcement is the latest salvo in a battle between California and the Trump administration regarding what rules CARB can make regarding auto industry emissions versus those determined by the federal government. The order also incorporates a mandate CARB issued earlier this year that truck manufacturers that sell medium- and heavy-duty trucks and vans in the state must begin transitioning to zero emissions vehicles starting in 2024 and complete the transition by 2045.
The move could reach farther than California as 11 states and the District of Columbia currently enforce CARB regulations and could follow suit. California accounts for 11.7% of the U.S. light passenger vehicle market and the additional states bring that total to more than 30%. The move to a complete ban would take place in increments between now and 2035.
The ban comes on the heels of numerous wildfires in the state. The Trump administration has contended that California's forest management is responsible for the fires and climate change is not to blame.
Under the order, state leaders have until July 15, 2021 to meet and draw up a policy plan.