California Lawmaker Calls for All Zero-Emission Cars by 2040

The all-electric Tesla Model S. (Jusdafax/Wikipedia)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California would outlaw the sale of “dirty vehicles” under a strict climate change measure introduced Wednesday.

The Clean Cars 2040 Act would require all passenger cars sold after Jan. 1, 2040, to be zero-emission. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, says his ambitious measure is a critical step toward meeting environmental targets set by the Legislature under Gov. Jerry Brown.

“We’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change.  Achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet,” Ting said in a statement.

Under Assembly Bill 1745, trucks and commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds would be exempt from the ban, and people moving to California would still be able to register their gasoline vehicles.

Supporters say transforming California’s auto industry keeps the Golden State in line with nations that are moving toward banning cars that emit exhaust, including China, France and Great Britain. According to state data, cars and commercial vehicles account for almost 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Billionaire Democratic party donor and NextGen America president Tom Steyer said the bill could clean up California’s notoriously poor air quality and benefit the state’s already booming clean-energy sector.

“Now more than ever, this legislation is needed to protect Californians’ health, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and reinforce our state’s role as a global climate leader,” Steyer said in a statement.

During his fourth and final term, Brown has set a goal of having at least 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 as part of California’s climate change policy. The governor’s press office declined to comment on Ting’s proposal.

While the state estimates there are over 300,000 zero-emission vehicles in California, less than 2 percent of cars sold in California in 2016 were zero-emission. American auto manufacturers have committed to producing electric and hybrid cars, with Ford saying it will soon offer 13 electric models and General Motors planning 23 by 2023.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, California retailers in 2016 sold over 2 million new cars totaling $67.3 billion in sales. Car sales and vehicle use taxes are major components of the state budget, contributing over $16 billion in state tax revenues in 2016.

The alliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Clean Cars 2040 Act.

Environmentalists reiterated the need for California to quickly “phase out fossil fuel cars.”

“The climate emergency demands we shake our fossil fuel car addiction in the next few years, not decades. We need an ambitious timeline to immediately spur the planning, investment and infrastructure urgently needed for widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” said Brian Nowicki, director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement

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