California to Approve Plan to Ban Sales of Gas-Powered Cars by 2035 

California is expected to ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035 in an effort to take dramatic steps to reduce emissions and combat the climate emergency. 

State regulators will vote today on the plan, which is hailed as a victory that could guide other states. It comes two years after an executive order for zero-emission vehicles. The regulators are expected to approve the plan today. 

It means the state of California will begin to phase out the sale of gas-powered cars over the next 13 years in the largest auto market in the state. 

Two years ago the state governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring the sale of new cars to be zero-emission. 

In 2021, only 12% of new cars sold in California were zero-emission, according to Carb. The new rule would require the state to reach 35% of sales by 2026, 68% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. It would not affect cars that are already on the road.

The measure will be among the first of its kind in America. People are hopeful that it will set an example to other states that often look to California when setting their own standards. 

Members of the California Air Resources Board (Carb) said there was “surprisingly little debate” on the floor and resistance from car makers, which have ramped up production of electric vehicles. 

General Motors said it plans to sell only electric vehicles by 2035. 

More than half of California’s carbon pollution comes from the transportation sector, Newsom had originally pointed out when announcing his executive order in 2020. The governor has hailed the plan as a crucial step to address the climate emergency, which has fueled costly and destructive natural disasters in the state.

When the measure was announced two years ago, Newsom said it was the most impactful step the state could take to fight climate change. Research has shown a transition to electric cars would have substantial effects in the US, where transportation is the largest contributor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A report released earlier this year by the American Lung Association found the US could save 110,000 American lives, $1.2 trillion in public health costs, and reduce greenhouse gases by 92% by 2050 if it were to swap gas-powered vehicles for zero-emissions cars.

The California Air Resources Board will issue the new rules today. The rule would phase in over time, with 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold by 2026 and 68 percent by 2030. California says that more than 16 percent of new car sales were “zero-emission vehicles” in 2022, which is up from 12.41 percent last year and 7.78 percent in 2020. 

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