California to ban sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035

The Golden State is going green.

Lucy Nicholson / reuters

As California continues to battle ever more deadly and destructive wildfires up and down the state, California governor Gavin Newsom has issued a sweeping executive order that will effectively ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-driven vehicles by the year 2035 by requiring that any car you drive off the dealer’s lot be zero emission.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said at a Wednesday news conference. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. You deserve to have a car that doesn’t give your 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.”

Don’t panic, nobody’s coming to take your car. As Newsom’s executive order (PDF) outlining the new rules notes, existing internal combustion vehicles will still be perfectly legal to own, operate, buy, and sell within the state. The new rules only apply to new vehicle sales. That includes cars, minivans and SUVs. The California Air Resources Board will also be tasked with drafting regulations to do the same with medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045. Newsom’s office notes that transportation accounts for roughly half of the state’s carbon emissions and estimates that these new rules will reduce those emissions by 35 percent.

The move is the first of its kind for a US state, however it’s not an entirely unique idea. A dozen countries including the UK, Germany and India have all passed legislation to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2030 while Canada and France have established a goal of 2040.