The internal combustion engine’s days could be numbered in California, where officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air.
Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines. Brown, one of the most outspoken elected official in the U.S. about the need for policies to combat climate change, would be replicating similar moves by China, France and the U.K.
Embracing such a policy would send shock waves through the global car industry due to the heft of California’s auto market. More than 2 million new passenger vehicles were registered in the state last year, topping France, Italy or Spain. If a ban were implemented, automakers from General Motors to Toyota Motor Corp. would be under new pressure to make electric vehicles the standard for personal transportation in the most populous U.S. state, casting fresh doubts on the future of gasoline- and diesel-powered autos elsewhere.
California has set a goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. Rising emissions from on-road transportation has undercut the state’s efforts to reduce pollution, a San Francisco-based nonprofit said last month.
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.
California has the authority to write its own pollution rules, which dates back to the 1970 Clean Air Act. Those rules are underpinned by waivers granted by the EPA.
The state would likely take a different legal route to enable a possible ban rather than use an EPA waiver, since the Trump administration would be unlikely to approve one. For example, California could use vehicle registration rules or control the vehicles that can access state highways, she said.
China will likely order an end to sales of all polluting vehicles by 2030. France and the U.K. have announced 2040 as their end date for sales of fossil fuel-powered cars.
A ban for California could also still be decades away from implementation, and just how far out remains to be seen.