California regulators unveiled a proposal this week to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars by 2035, as the state pushes for more sales of electric and zero-emissions cars in the next four years.
The proposal, released by the California Air Resources Board on Tuesday, outlines the plan to have new cars powered by batteries or hydrogen make up 35% of car sales in the state by 2026 before cars make up 100% of sales by 2035. California accounts for about 11% of total new passenger vehicle sales in the United States, the largest proportion of any state.
Californians are still allowed to drive gas-powered cars and sell used cars because the proposal applies to new car models only. Up to 20% of sales by 2035 could be plug-in hybrids that can be powered using a combination of battery and gas, and all electric vehicles should have at least 150 miles per charge.
The plan comes on the heels of a September 2020 executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom to phase out gas-powered cars until the state is carbon neutral by 2045.
Passenger cars contribute about a quarter of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other source, according to the council. The program is part of California’s efforts to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Between 2026 and 2040, state experts estimate that the program will reduce emissions by about 384 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s just under all emissions across California’s economy in one year.
“Emissions from motor vehicle engines harm public health, well-being, the environment and the climate in multiple interrelated ways. Reducing emissions of one type supports reducing emissions of others and contributes to reducing the severity of their impacts,” the report states.
The country is currently making great strides in its sales of electric vehicles. The council said that electric vehicles accounted for 12.4% of new car sales in 2021. In 2020, it was 7.8%.
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Automakers, including Ford and Toyota, told The Associated Press to bow to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation for a statement on the proposal.
“Automakers will certainly meet whatever standards are eventually adopted, but these draft requirements would be very challenging even in California and may not be achievable in all states that currently have the California program,” the group said.
The Center for Environmental Biodiversity Cluster said the proposal “charts insufficient progress” toward the target set for 2035, noting that the plan should be implemented sooner in 2030.
Scott Hochberg, transportation attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute said in a statement. “To protect people and the planet, California needs to free our streets from exhaust pipe pollution as quickly as possible.”
The council is expected to vote on the proposal in August.
Contributing: Associated Press
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