California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a major new climate initiative setting a goal to eliminate gas-only vehicle engines by 2035 as the state continues on a path toward lower carbon emissions.
The governor signed an executive order committing to the ambitious goal, saying the transportation sector in California accounts for more than 50% of the state's carbon emissions, mostly from private vehicles.
"This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change," Newsom said in a statement. "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."
The executive order calls for the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations to mandate that 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035, a target that would achieve more than a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80% improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide, the governor's office said.
The board also will mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles be 100% zero emission by 2045 where feasible.
The executive order also directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities, the governor's office said.
The announcement and signing came during a special news conference Wednesday in the middle of Climate Week 2020.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Newsom was scheduled to join a virtual panel with 10 fellow U.S. Climate Alliance governors to discuss their states' respective commitments in support of Paris Agreement targets, the release said.
On Thursday, Newsom will continue Climate Week activities by hosting a California Climate Action Day. The event will feature virtual discussions with world, state and local leaders, business executives and other experts on a wide range of climate issues.