California is expected to go into effect Thursday with its comprehensive plan to ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035, a groundbreaking move that could have major implications for efforts to combat climate change and accelerate the global shift toward electric vehicles.
“This is huge,” said Margo Augie, an electric vehicle expert who headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Transportation Emissions Program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. California will now be the only government in the world to mandate the use of zero-emissions vehicles. It’s unique.”
The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, would require that 100 percent of all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free from the fossil fuel emissions responsible for global warming, up from 12 percent today. It sets interim goals that require that 35 percent of new passenger cars sold in the state by 2026 produce zero emissions. This could rise to 68 percent by 2030.
The restrictions are important because California is not only the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states follow the California model when setting their auto emissions standards.
“The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big and bold steps needed to stem the tide of carbon pollution,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
California action comes on top Expansive new climate law signed by President Biden last week. The act will invest $370 billion in spending and tax credits on clean energy programs, the largest action the federal government has ever taken to combat climate change. The enactment of this law is expected to help the United States reduce its emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade. However, eliminating US emissions by 2050 will not be enough, a goal that climate scientists say all major economies must reach if the world is to avoid the most catastrophic and deadly effects of climate change.
To help bridge the gap, White House officials have pledged to tie the bill to new regulations, including vehicle exhaust emissions. They also said that reducing emissions enough to stay in line with the science would also require aggressive state policies.
Experts said the new California law, in terms of its rigor and scope, could stand alongside Washington’s law as one of the world’s most important climate change policies, and could help eliminate the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The new rule is also expected to influence new policies in Washington and around the world to promote electric vehicles and reduce vehicle pollution.
At least 12 more states could adopt California’s new zero-emissions vehicle sooner; Five more states, which follow California’s broader program to reduce vehicle pollution, are expected to adopt the rule within a year or so. If those states followed through, restrictions on gasoline car sales would apply to about a third of the US auto market.
This will have a major impact on tackling climate change, as emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles are the country’s main source of greenhouse gas pollution that is warming the planet.
John Bosella, president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents major US and foreign automakers, said mandates to sell new electric cars in California would be “extremely difficult” to meet. “Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly related to external factors such as inflation, shipping and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, employment, availability and prices of critical metals, and persistent shortages of semiconductors,” Mr. Bozilla said by email.
He said automakers want to see more electric cars on the road, but he called on the state and federal government to do more to address issues such as the ability to extract important minerals like lithium and cobalt in the United States, and the affordability of electric vehicles. and fair access to express shipping.
The governments of Canada, Britain and at least nine other European countries – including France, Spain and Denmark – have set targets to phase out the sale of new petrol cars between 2030 and 2040. But there are no specific mandates or regulations like the California rule.
“This regulation will mark the rising global waters for the rapid transition to electric vehicles,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a research organization.
In Washington, President Biden last year signed an executive order calling on the government to try to ensure that Half of all vehicles Sold in the US will be electric by 2030, up from 6 percent today, although the order has no legally binding force.
Mr. Biden also sought to enact federal policies that would increase the nation’s use of electric vehicles. The new climate spending bill includes $14 billion in tax incentives for buyers of new and used electric vehicles. Environmental Protection Agency last year Slightly restored and strengthened The Obama-era fuel economy rule that the Trump administration had abolished. It requires passenger cars to get 55 miles per gallon by 2026, from less than 40 miles per gallon today.
This national regulation is far less ambitious than the California law that took effect this week, but it was the Biden administration that allowed California to press ahead with its ambitious policy: It re-waived the Clean Air Act that gave California legal authority to limit car pollution and mileage. Rules are stricter than federal standards, an aggressive climate policy that former President Donald J. Trump has halted.
It is this authority that allows California to enact the new rule. Once in place, the California rule is expected to influence a new federal standard that the Environmental Protection Agency expects to introduce next year, encouraging automakers to build and sell more electric vehicles.
But there is already fierce legal opposition to those plans.
Attorneys general in 17 Republican-led states sued to overturn California’s waiver, which would undo the new policy. The lawsuit will be heard in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is the second most powerful judicial body in the country after the Supreme Court. Oral arguments are yet to be scheduled.
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