Late last month, California officials announced that no new gas could be sold in the state by 2035. The real impacts of the new policy are limited.
California has been in the headlines for the past month after a late August announcement banning the sale of all internal combustion engine cars by 2035. Policy wonks and pundits reacted in a mix of reviews, some saying this is a necessary step to fight climate change while others claim the policy is not ready for implementation. Putting partisanship aside, what impact, if any, will a 2035 ban on gas-powered vehicles actually have?
The electric-powered train has already left the station.
Much like coal-fired stoves and the telegraph, the sun is setting on internal combustion engines. Consumers have been voting with their wallets, buying an ever-increasing number of electric vehicles (EVs). In response, every major vehicle manufacturer has begun transitioning toward EVs. The economics are now aligning with the science as a transition renewable energy is now projected to save roughly $12 trillion by 2050. It is also worth noting that the California policy does not ban the sale of gasoline or the use of gas-powered vehicles. So even though the sale of new vehicles will be banned, gas-powered drivers should still be able to fuel up.
Critics of the new policy have rightfully pointed out that no jurisdiction currently has enough renewable energy generating capacity to switch all cars to EVs and power them without fossil fuel-generated electricity. In recent years there have been several pieces of electrification legislation in Annapolis which have failed explicitly due to this point. This is a reasonable criticism and one that must be addressed by policymakers both in Annapolis and nationally.