Local News

Newsom Moves to Ban Gas Cars to Counter Climate Change

By: Bridie Beamish

Culture Editor 

Amid the fight against climate change, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 24 plans to phase-out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. The executive order requires that by 2035, all vehicles sold must be zero-emission cars. However, the mandate does not outlaw owning, selling, or driving cars that run on gasoline.. 

The rule plans to eliminate conventional vehicles over time––requiring 35 percent of new vehicle sales to be powered by batteries or hydrogen by 2026 and 68 percent by 2030. Currently, only 16 percent of car sales are of zero-emission vehicles.

As the transportation industry accounts for over half of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of the state’s smog-forming pollution, and 95 percent of its toxic diesel emissions, the order aims to reduce over 35 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Almost two years ago, during Climate Week 2020, Newsom announced an initiative to establish this executive order. During that press release, Newsom declared, “This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change. For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe.”Given Newsom’s order, state officials predict that this new standard will significantly reduce health problems associated with bad air quality and, by 2040, will result in more than 1,000 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths. 

Infrastructure and state finances play a crucial role in the implementation of this new rule. Right now, there are around 80,000 car charging stations––the country’s highest—in California. However, the state is currently falling behind its goal of establishing a total of 250,000 stations by 2025. Though the bipartisan infrastructure bill distributed 7.5 billion dollars towards states building more charging stations, a supply concern over lithium batteries and other necessary materials creates another challenge. 

Further pushback comes from a federal waiver that allows California to proceed with emission standards. The Trump Administration previously revoked this waiver in 2019, but the Biden Administration has since restored it. However, the attorney generals of 17 Republican-governed states have sued to rescind the Californian waiver and undo the new emission policies as they believe it goes against the equal sovereignty of the states. 

California leads the nation in this effort against climate change, joining 15 other countries and influencing many states to adopt similar carbon emission regulations. Still, if passed, this rule alone is not enough to significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 2050, a target that scientists say we must reach before climate change effects reach even higher catastrophic and deadly levels. 

(Sources: CA.gov, CNBC, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post)

Categories: Local News, News

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