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California air agency to ban sales of gasoline-powered cars by 2035

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California has set to ban the sale of new gasoline vehicles by 2035 as the state takes dramatic steps to reduce emissions and combat the climate emergency.

In a vote on Thursday, state regulators are expected to approve a plan to phase out the sale of gas-powered cars over the next 13 years in America’s largest auto market. The move is being hailed as a major victory that could point the way forward for others.

“This is monumental,” said Daniel Sperling, a member of the California Air Resources Board (Carb), to CNN. “This is the most important thing that Carb has done in the last 30 years. It’s important not just for California, but it’s important for the country and the world.”

The vote comes two years after the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order requiring the sale of new cars to be zero-emission.

In 2021, only 12% of new cars sold in California were zero-emission, according to Carb. The new rule would require the state reach 35% of sales by 2026, 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. It would not affect cars that are already on the road.

The measure, which Sperling said he was almost certain would pass, will be among the first of its kind and set an example to other states that often look to California when setting their own standards. Sperling told CNN the proposal faced “surprisingly little debate” and resistance from car makers, which have ramped up production of electric vehicles. General Motors has said it plans to sell only electric vehicles by 2035.

More than half of California’s carbon pollution comes from the transportation sector, Newsom pointed out when announcing his executive order in 2020. The governor has hailed the plan as a crucial step to address the climate emergency, which has fueled costly and destructive natural disasters in the state.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said at the time. “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.”

Research has shown a transition to electric cars would have substantial effects in the US, where transportation is the largest contributor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. A report released earlier this year by the American Lung Association found the US could save 110,000 American lives, $1.2tn in public health costs and reduce greenhouses gases by 92% by 2050 if it were to swap gas-powered vehicles for zero-emissions cars.

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