California is set to become the first state in the nation, and the first jurisdiction on the planet, to officially ban the sale of new gas-powered cars, starting in 2035. The new rule from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandates interim goals for increased sales of electric vehicles in the state, and takes effect on Thursday.
In part thanks to the passage of Biden's grand climate-action legislation, which deliberately amended the Clean Air Act to define carbon dioxide as a "pollutant" — and thereby counters the Supreme Court's recent decision that limited the Clean Air Act's reach — California is taking a big step to ban gasoline-car sales over the next 13 years.
"This regulation will set the global high-water mark for the accelerated transition to electric vehicles,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, speaking to the New York Times.
And as electric vehicle expert Margo Oge tells the Times, "California will now be the only government in the world that mandates zero-emission vehicles. It is unique."
The CARB rule, which would mean that you won't be able to purchase a new, gasoline-powered vehicle anywhere in the state by 2035, and that electric vehicles will increasingly occupy the majority of California car lots well before then, is a game-changer that at least a dozen other states are expected to copy. And it comes just weeks after the Biden Administration's sweeping climate-action legislation finally passed, meaning that the two will work hand-in-hand in an albeit compromised Green New Deal sort of way in the coming decade.
"The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution," said Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement.
As the Times notes:
The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, will require that 100 percent of all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of the fossil fuel emissions chiefly responsible for warming the planet, up from 12 percent today. It sets interim targets requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the state by 2026 produce zero emissions. That would climb to 68 percent by 2030.
So, in just seven and a half years, you're only going to see 32 percent of cars sold in California be fossil-fuel-consuming. And given California's enormous car-buying market, and the state's influence on at least a dozen other states' emissions standards, this is going to kick production of electric vehicles by major carmakers into high gear, right quick.
The Times suggests there are five states that typically go in lockstep with California when it comes to emissions regulations, and another 12 states appear likely to follow suit as well, meaning about a third of the US auto market will be electric-only sometime in the 2030s.
Combine that with a Biden executive order to make electric vehicles represent half the US market by 2050, and we may actually get somewhere on fossil fuel emissions in our lifetimes.
The governments of Canada, the UK, France, Spain, Denmark, and six other European countries have also set goals of phasing out the sale of gas-powered cars in the next two decades. And more may follow.
Still, the Republicans are going to do their best to shit all over this and insist on punishing us all with their gas-guzzling trucks and cars. The attorneys general of 17 red states, as the Times reports, have already sued to block the California Air Resources Board rule in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and oral arguments will be scheduled sometime soon.
And the auto industry isn't entirely on board with having their feet held to the fire — not to mention there's the pesky issue of building the electric-charging infrastructure needed across California's highways, towns, and cities to make this an equitable situation.
John Bozzella, president of the industry group Alliance for Automotive Innovation, gave a quote to the Times saying adopting the new rules on this schedule will be "extremely challenging," both because of the charging-station issue and given global shortages of the materials needed to make more electric batteries.
"Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly linked to external factors like inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage," Bozzella tells the Times.
Top image: In an aerial view, traffic backs up at the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza on February 16, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)