California has taken a dramatic step forward in its battle to combat its gradual slide into climate change hell. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his signing of an executive order that will prohibit the sale of new cars with an internal combustion engine in the Golden State starting in 2035.
In a press release, Newsom’s office said, “California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035, a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide.”
It’s an aggressive move to tackle the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state as well as the U.S. at-large. The state accounts for a shocking 1% of entire global oil demand, and is the second-biggest state consumers of gas in the U.S. after Texas.
While sales of new internal combustion vehicles will be banned, Californians will still be allowed to drive and sell the gas guzzlers that they already own after the 2035 deadline passes. The order also doesn’t cover all vehicles sold in the state. Regulators are instructed to develop and propose new rules that set the auto industry on track to ban any new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that burn fossil fuels a “feasible” reality by 2045. California, Oregon, and Washington are considering a proposal for an electric highway that could spur more widespread adoption of electric freight shipping.
For several years in a row, California has suffered from increasingly common and destructive wildfires that scientists have linked to the conditions created by climate change. The state’s climate efforts have gradually ramped up, and its current fuel emission standards have been credited with pushing automakers to rethink their product-lines in general as they have no interest in losing the business of the roughly 40 million people who live in California.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Governor Newsom said in a press statement. “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.”
Newsom makes some good points. I too would prefer it if cars did not melt glaciers. And while California’s new fuel emissions standards are welcome news, they won’t be enough to curb the dangers of climate change. Climate scientists have settled on the goal of keeping the average rise in global temperatures below a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) increase over pre-industrial levels if we hope to avoid the point of no return.
A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed a tremendous and catastrophic difference between a 1.5-degree-Celsius increase and a rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Just two weeks ago, the United Nations warned that the planet is likely to hit that 1.5˚C increase in at least one year between now and 2024.
You can read the full text of Newsom’s executive order below: