California bans the sale of combustion vehicles from 2035 onwards

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California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that from 2035 only emission-free cars may be sold in the state. By 2045 every new commercial utility vehicle will have to be emission-free.

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In California, the transport sector is responsible for more than half of the total CO2 emissions as well as for the exorbitant emission of fine dust and nitrogen oxides. Newsome said that the executive order phasing out the sales of combustion engine vehicles should tackle this problem, as well as support California’s economy because “Zero-emission vehicles are a key part of California’s clean, innovation economy – already California’s second-largest global export market,” as the Governor’s press release on his executive order underlined.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) now has the task of drafting regulations for a ban on the sale of new vehicles with combustion engines from 2035. Other accompanying measures include instructing government agencies to work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the introduction of affordable hydrogen fuelling and charging facilities. The state also wants to support markets for new and used electric vehicles. Incentives for train services, other public transport, bicycle and pedestrian traffic will also be created.

California is home to the largest electric car market in the USA. The state has propelled this forward with a number of both municipal and state political measures. California has been trying to tackle the problem of pollution for years with various restrictions on emissions from cars. The quotas laid down in the ‘ZEV mandate’ (Zero Emission Vehicle), are based on an exemption regulation that has presented a thorn in the side of the Trump administration, particularly because the Californian ZEV mandate is increasingly being adopted by more states.

The carbon dioxide and toxic emissions from cars are by no means the only focus for the combustion engine phase-out. California aiming to transform the commercial vehicle sector. In June this year, the state government announced that from 2024 onwards manufacturers will be required to sell a gradually increasing proportion of electrically powered trucks, vans and pickup trucks by 2035. By 2045, every new commercial vehicle in the US state should be emission-free. At the end of 2018, California decided that starting in 2029, mass transit agencies in California will only be allowed to buy zero-emission buses under a rule adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The new executive order also “requires the support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad access to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians.” Here, Governor also made clear that the executive will not prevent Californians from owning combustion engine cars or selling them on the used car market.

Update 04 January 2021: Another US state appears to be following California’s lead: Massachusetts has now announced that it will ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. This is according to a climate plan published by Governor Charlie Baker. According to the plan, the state is committed to becoming completely CO2 neutral by 2050. 27 per cent of emissions in Massachusetts currently come from passenger cars, zero-emissions-only new registrations starting in 2035 should greatly reduce these emissions.

In addition to clean new cars, the plan also includes other measures, such as the expansion of a “robust” charging network or improved public transportation, wider sidewalks and bike lanes. Buildings are also to become more energy efficient.

Update 13 September 2021

About a year ago, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom issued a decree that only emissions-free cars may be sold from 2035 onwards. Now there is talk that the ban on combustion cars in California could be brought forward by five years to 2030. According to media reports, this is what California’s Democratic Party is demanding, which has passed a corresponding resolution that will now be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom, among others.

A similar plan had been proposed in Washington State, before being surprisingly vetoed by governor Jay Inslee, who claimed this goal is too important to be tied to the implementation of a separate directive for a road user charge. While the bill will likely face an uphill battle in Californian state politics, several cities, including Culver City, Oakland, and Berkeley have already written resolutions asking as much. (last 3 update), (update II)


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