WASHINGTON — California on Wednesday announced an aggressive plan to impose a steady increase in sales of electric and zero-emission vehicles, the first step toward meeting a first-in-the-nation target of introducing new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. forbid.
Under the proposed rule issued by the California Air Resources Board, the state will require that 35 percent of new passenger cars sold in the state by 2026 be powered by batteries or hydrogen. Less than a decade later, the state expects 100 percent of all new car sales to be free of fossil fuel emissions primarily responsible for global warming.
It would be a big jump. According to the board, 12.4 percent of new vehicles sold in California are currently zero-emissions.
If the board of directors finalizes the plan in August, it could set the bar for the country’s auto industry. California is the largest auto market in the United States and the 10th largest in the world. In addition, 15 other states — including New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina — have previously followed California’s steps on tailpipe emissions and may adopt similar proposals.
A critical year for electric vehicles
The popularity of battery-powered cars is increasing worldwide, even if the general car market is stagnating.
“This is hugely important,” said Daniel Sperling, a member of the California Air Board and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. He said the proposed rule, which he said he expects to be passed, sends a signal to the global auto market.
“Other countries and other states are looking at what California is doing,” he said. “And so this will reverberate around the world.”
The proposal comes as President Biden’s climate agenda falters. Mr Biden signed an executive order last year calling on the government to try to ensure that half of all vehicles sold in the United States are electric by 2030. However, legislation that would enable that transition by allocating billions of dollars in tax incentives for electric vehicles has stalled in the Senate. Meanwhile, under pressure to ease high gas prices, the president has urged oil companies to drill for more oil.
Automakers did not immediately respond to requests for comment about California’s proposed rule. In a joint statement last year, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the auto company formed this year after the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot, announced their “shared ambition” to achieve national sales of 40 to 50 percent electric vehicles by 2030. realize.
But they need government support and a “full package of electrification policies” to turn ambitions into action, they wrote.
Transportation is California’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
California’s proposed rule puts into effect an executive order that Governor Gavin Newsom issued in 2020. According to the plan, 35 percent of new cars and light trucks sold by 2026 must be zero-emissions. That will increase to 68 percent by 2030, and to 100 percent by 2035. The plan allows 20 percent of new sales to be plug-in hybrids.
According to California’s air pollution regulators, the rule will eliminate 384 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2026 and 2040 — more than the state emitted from any source in 2019.
“These emission reductions will help stabilize the climate and reduce the risk of severe droughts and wildfires and the resulting pollution from particulate matter,” the state plan says.
Environmental groups were divided over the plan. Don Anair, deputy director of the clean transportation program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the measure had improved from an earlier version. He called it the “key climate decision” the California Air Force Board will make this year.
But Scott Hochberg, a transportation attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, accused California of taking “a slow road” and called on the state in a statement to end sales of gas-powered vehicles five years earlier, by 2030.
Mr. Sperling noted that several challenges remain, including building charging stations for vehicles and convincing consumers to buy electric vehicles. He said the last 20 to 30 percent would be the most difficult part of the transition and would most likely require new policies and incentives.
“We can’t get people vaccinated,” he said. “Why do we think we can get them to buy an electric car? That means we have to get creative to make these vehicles attractive and appealing to consumers, even beyond their inherent features.”