Natalie Hanson / Court News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California has set an ambitious deadline for selling green cars, requiring that by 2035 all new vehicles sold in the state must be powered by electricity or hydrogen.
The unanimous vote by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) marks a groundbreaking step to transform the state’s historic support of gas-burning vehicles that will have statewide effects. Vehicles are the largest contributor of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in California, causing about 80% of ozone precursor emissions and 50% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide.
“The success of the program will depend on every car buyer embracing low-emission vehicles, even the most reluctant ones,” Anna Wong of CARB’s Transportation and Sustainable Communities Section told the board Thursday.
She said that in addition to cleaning the air from combustion pollution, the mandate provides the biggest benefits to communities along transportation corridors by reducing greenhouse gas and highway emissions.
Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University, said there could be huge economic and environmental benefits from a large-scale transition to electric vehicles. It can save consumers money through lower fuel and maintenance costs, while reducing pollution and saving thousands of lives lost each year to poor air quality.
However, there are two caveats.
“If California is unable to fix reliability problems with its electric grid and install charging equipment for all cars, consumers could face hardships that would cause a public backlash against the regulations and end up making more difficult to achieve. the goal of electrifying the vehicle fleet,” said Gilligan. “Requiring everyone to switch to electric cars will only work if people are easily able to buy those cars at affordable prices by 2035 and have reliable and convenient access to charging when they need it. that.”
In the report to CARB, staff said it proposed requiring automakers to offer an increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles between the 2026 and 2035 model years. Although the state accounts for 10% of the U.S. auto market, it is home to of 43% and 2.6 of the country. million registered plug-in vehicles, according to the board.
Using incentives for automakers, this proposal would create nearly 100% sales of zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles by 2035, pushed into action by Governor Gavin’s Executive Order N-79-20 Newsom. The report said the proposal is critical to achieving nationwide carbon neutrality by 2045 and reducing emissions from passenger vehicles to meet new federal ambient ozone standards by 2037, as well as reducing thousands of cardiopulmonary deaths. , hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and asthma attacks.
“We can solve this climate crisis if we focus on the big, bold steps needed to reduce pollution. California now has an innovative, world-leading plan to achieve 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035,” Newsom said in a statement after the CARB vote.
The transition will be difficult for regions of the state where oil is still a major export, as California remains the seventh-largest oil-producing state. CARB estimates that the rule changes would create cumulative new costs for manufacturers of about $30 billion, or $2 billion annually, between 2026 and 2040.
However, the board believes consumers will save in the future, in part due to reduced costs from gasoline consumption – about $93 billion between 2026 and 2040. The report also noted the thousands of new jobs being created, with a cumulative net benefit of about $91.1 billion to the state by 2040.
Board member Hector de la Torre said many countries are implementing similar mandates, including the United Kingdom, France and Japan.
“This is the world market, this is where things are going. California is not out of step,” he said.
Amy Lilly with Mercedes Benz’s research and development department told the board that the company approves of how the mandate to work with automakers was changed.
“The goal for us is to have 100% of our fleet zero emission by 2030,” she said. She added that the company hopes CARB will support some flexibility in making the transition, such as more opportunities to earn credits to help promote and launch new vehicles.
Kia has committed to investing $25 billion in expanding electric vehicle technologies over the next decade, a representative told the board.
Of the many Californians who spoke to the board Thursday, some approved of the proposal. Bianca Lopez, who represents the San Joaquin Valley Clean Vehicle Empowerment Collaborative, said they support the proposed regulations, but that there needs to be a clear commitment to ensure equal access to zero-emission vehicles for the most disadvantaged communities. .
“Our EV equity program has been very successful as we’ve helped Californians across the Central Valley learn more about air quality and purchase electric vehicles that have been much needed by the people we represent,” said Lopez.
Others said the state has not addressed residents’ basic rights to clean air, saying CARB should do more to ensure the budget invests equally in communities at greatest risk of air exposure. poor because of poverty and historical discrimination.
Heather Kay of ¡Sí Se Puede! The Collective urged CARB to “slow down” and consider how the program could affect working families in the Central Valley.
“We ask that you consider the communities that are the backbone of this state and slow down this aggressive timeline,” she said.
Marcus Gomez, of the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed regulations could cost thousands of jobs and raise costs for low-income people and locally owned auto businesses.
“Small businesses and their employees cannot absorb these economic losses,” Gomez said. “The regulations are just too, too fast, for minority-owned businesses.”
These rules do not mean that people should stop driving gas cars. Californians can continue to drive gas vehicles and buy used ones after 2035, and the plan allows for one-fifth of sales after 2035 to be plug-in hybrids.
Offsets are why Scott Hochberg, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Justice Institute, said “It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s also a missed opportunity.” He said the amended proposal lacks the teeth to mandate dealers use new technology to further reduce emissions from gas-powered vehicles still on the road over the next decade.
“The EPA must accelerate equitable EV adoption and require strong pollution controls for the millions of gas-powered cars that will be sold before the fleet electrifies,” he said.
Alice Kaswan, a professor at the USF School of Law, agreed that while the regulation sends “a clear signal” to the auto industry, the state needs to go further to address reducing emissions from vehicles, refineries and oil production.
“Future programs could buy gas and diesel vehicles and, for wealthy car owners, impose fees that discourage their continued use,” Kaswan said.
The infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021 provides $5 billion for states to install chargers every 50 miles along interstate highways, and Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act also increases credits for green vehicles. Newsom has pledged billions to boost sales of zero-emission vehicles, such as by adding chargers in low-income neighborhoods, and the California Legislature is debating bills proposing similar investments.
California must now obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act in order to implement the mandate, which the Biden administration has indicated it will approve.