California’s governor signed an executive order Wednesday to ban the selling of gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035 in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. California would be the first state to put this type of ban in place, but joins a list of 15 countries that have already committed to phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles. (This mandate would not prevent the selling of used gas-fueled vehicles or those who currently own one.)
The directive aims to reduce California’s carbon pollution in the transportation sector, which is said to make up more than than half of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. If achieved, vehicle emissions are said to decrease by 1/3 within 15 years.
Governor Newsom said in a statement, “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. 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.”
This mandate comes in the midst of a devastating wildfire season for the Golden State with ongoing fires already having burned over 3 million acres, resulting in 26 deaths. Four of the top 5 largest wildfires in the state’s history have all occurred this year (2020).
Studies shows that recent wildfires have been made worse by anthropogenic climate change, as hotter temperatures and drier conditions dry out vegetation used as fuel in these dangerous fires. Research also points to decreased soil moisture and increased drought, both influenced by climate change, for raising the risk of the high temperatures in recent winters (ex. 2013–2014 and 2014–2015).
Governor Newsom’s full executive order can be found here.