Following similar moves elsewhere, authorities in the US state of California are now considering banning the sale of new gas- or diesel-powered cars there, going by comments made by the chairman of the California Air Resources Board in an interview with Bloomberg.
That interview — with the California Air Resources Board’s head, Mary Nichols — is fairly ambiguous, so those in the state may not want to hold their breath too long. The possibility does seem to be there, though, so perhaps something will happen before too long.
Speaking about conversations with California Governor Jerry Brown, Nichols stated: “I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’ The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”
While California is just a single US state, it does still represent one of the largest auto markets in the world — comprising over 2 million new passenger vehicle registrations in 2016, not an insubstantial number. If a ban (of whatever sort) was to go into effect in California, it would certainly get the attention of the major auto manufacturers and force major changes.
Speaking about the need for action of some kind, if the state’s climate change goals are to be achieved, Nichols stated that a rapid switch to electric vehicles is mandatory. “To reach the ambitious levels of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, we have to pretty much replace all combustion with some form of renewable energy by 2040 or 2050. We’re looking at that as a method of moving this discussion forward.”
Nichols noted that California, as a US state, doesn’t have a completely free hand as regards the actions it can take to achieve this goal.
“We certainly wouldn’t expect to get a waiver for that from EPA,” Nichols stated. “I think we would be looking at using some of our other authorities to get to that result.”
Speaking about timelines, she noted: “There are people who believe, including who work for me, that you could stop all sales of new internal-combustion cars by 2030. Some people say 2035, some people say 2040. It’s awfully hard to predict any of that with precision, but it doesn’t appear to be out of the question.”
On that note, I’ll remind those reading this that the UK and France are both aiming for the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to be ended by 2040. Also noteworthy is that the chairman of the China-based firm BYD expects all new car sales in China to be of electrified models by 2030 (this would include hybrids, seemingly).
Image by Kyle Field