New cars sold in California will have to be “zero emission” polluters, starting no later than 2035, according to a law passed Thursday in the state at the forefront of efforts for an energy transition in the country.
“Rapidly accelerating the number of zero-emission vehicles on our roads and highways will drastically reduce emissions and pollution for all Californians,” Liane Randolph, chairwoman of the California Air Quality Board (CARB), which approved the measure, said in a statement.
The legislation, which will effectively ban the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars starting in 2035, formalizes the goals set in September 2020 by the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom.
By 2026, one-third of car sales in California must be “zero-emission” vehicles, meaning vehicles that run on electricity, hydrogen and some hybrids, and it must be two-thirds of sales by 2030.
“The timeline is ambitious but achievable: by the time a child born this year is college age, only zero-emission vehicles and a limited number of plug-in hybrids will be available for sale for new cars in California,” CARB noted.
The bureau also estimates that by 2037, the new standard will result in a 25 percent reduction in smog from light-duty vehicles.
“This will benefit all Californians, but particularly the most economically and environmentally burdened communities along freeways and other high-traffic routes,” CARB added.
CARB also argues that, from 2026 to 2040, the new regulations will prevent 1,290 deaths from cardiopulmonary disease, among other things.
The state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, praised the measure’s passage. Reducing the number of polluting vehicles on the road is equivalent to “the emissions caused by 915 million barrels of oil.
Largest U.S. market
California, with its more than 40 million consumers, is the largest market in the United States and its standards impact manufacturing across the country.
General Motors had already announced in January 2021 its intention to stop building cars with polluting emissions by 2035, even though the group has not openly committed to offering only electric vehicles in 13 years.
California’s passage of the measure comes as President Joe Biden signed into law last week a sweeping climate and health investment plan, which includes a $370 billion package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
In recent years, many countries have tried to limit pollution from the automotive sector.
The UK, Singapore and Israel have committed to ending sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030, and Norway has made the commitment for 2025.
Human activity, including the use of fossil fuels, has led scientists to believe that global warming has contributed to more frequent and severe extreme weather events.
One of the solutions to combat this warming is therefore to limit polluting emissions from fossil fuels, experts say.