Much like the United Kingdom — which, in a bid for zero-emissions, hopes to outlaw the purchase of gas-powered cars by 2030 — Berkeley could ax the selling of cars powered by gasoline, diesel, and natural gas as soon as 2027.
Automobiles account for nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide (and other global-warming gases) for every gallon of gas burned. In California specifically, transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state — accounting for about 40% of the state's emissions. To curb climate change and help drive down the states’ greenhouse gas emissions, Berkeley’s city council is set to meet next Tuesday to push for a feasibility study that would dive into the reality of a proposed ordinance that aims to "achieve an 80% phase-out of gasoline, diesel and natural gas passenger vehicles" by 2027.
Climate change is threatening California's ancient trees. 2020's #wildfires, "fueled by a century’s worth of forest mismanagement and the quickening pace of global warming," killed hundreds of giant #sequoias and over a million Joshua trees: https://t.co/HUJjOOUu3i via @nytimes pic.twitter.com/ymOLvtCXua— Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (@YaleClimateComm) January 5, 2021
The proposal would also include the end of traditional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles in the city.
"I am proud to serve as Mayor of a city long been known for being on the frontlines of the fight against climate change," Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin tweeted Tuesday afternoon in support of the proposal. In September Arreguin, released his decades-long plan looking forward to how Berkeley will continue to address climate change, adding "the pandemic has shown that we need to adapt to the new normal of how we use transportation, broadband, and open spaces."
However, the proposed ordinance would not apply to semi-trucks and other utility vehicles; the rule would also only affect cars "worth over $28,000 by 2025, over $23,000 by 2026 and all vehicles by 2027"; the mandate would also see Berkeley move to convert all it’s current fleet vehicles to either electric or hydrogen fuel-celled powered ones.
Though the ordinance is recommended by Berkeley's Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment, and Sustainability Policy committees, it has been met with some criticism.
The Chronicle was quick to note that an operations manager of the Berkeley-based display car service Buggy Bank LLC said it's not "feasible to think that you can actually end [the use of oil and gas]." Arreguin, himself, even added in his conversation with the newspaper that accomplishing these goals by 2027 might not be a “realistic timeline.”
Currently, there's no set time when Berkeley's council will vote on an ordinance to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles, and it's unclear when the aforementioned feasibility study will be done.
The stated Berkeley directive is a good seven years ahead of California's goal of banning the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 — per an executive order signed by Gavin Newsom in September.
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images via Ivan-balvan