Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 25, 2022


Scott Hochberg, (510) 844-7119,

California Clean Car Rule Fails to Match Climate Urgency

State Needs Faster Electrification, Strong Standards for Gas-Powered Cars

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— California’s Air Resources Board is set to finalize an auto emissions rule today that falls short of needed progress and jeopardizes the state’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2045.

The Advanced Clean Cars II rule charts the future of electric vehicle, or EV, sales in the state through 2035, and in the 16 other states likely to adopt the rule. But the rule makes inadequate progress toward 100% EV sales and ignores tailpipe pollution from millions of gas-powered cars sold until that transition is complete.

“This rule needed to match the urgency of the climate crisis, but instead it leaves Californians making sputtering progress in the slow lane,” said Scott Hochberg, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “California needs to act strongly on gas-powered cars instead of ignoring them, and we need to shift to EVs much sooner or watch our climate stability slip away.”

The rule aims to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and reach 68% zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, sales by 2030. But because polluting gas-powered cars stay on the road for 15 to 20 years, California needs to go faster, reaching closer to 100% ZEV sales by 2030.

“California needs clean cars now,” said Jack Fleck of 350 Bay Area. “We can't afford to wait 13 years to phase out fossil fuel cars.”

The rule fails to address the tailpipe pollution from gas-powered cars sold before then. It also fails to put in place the binding requirements needed to ensure that the low-income communities hit hardest by climate disaster and pollution reap the benefits of electric vehicles.

“California is falling behind in its climate leadership,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of the Climate Center. “Several countries have set 2030 as the year for the end of new gas car registrations. There is no reason why California can’t do the same, while ensuring that working class Californians have access to clean cars. Gas cars sold in 2030 will be emitting greenhouse gases well past the time when we need to have achieved net-negative carbon dioxide emissions. It's time to accelerate the transition.”

These shortfalls come as the governor wants the state to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030. The inadequate clean cars rule will make it harder to achieve this goal. The Air Resources Board has also recently fielded heavy criticism for its scoping plan, which does not achieve emissions reductions at the necessary pace. The electrification of cars and light trucks offers the most accessible route to progress on the state’s overall emissions-reduction targets.

The passage of California’s rule shifts the focus back to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is currently contemplating its next round of national vehicle standards, covering model years 2027 and later. A draft rule is expected to be announced in 2023.

“Because California fell short, we’ll need to see more aggressive action in the upcoming EPA rule,” said Hochberg. “The EPA needs to accelerate equitable EV adoption and require strong pollution controls for the millions of gas-powered cars that will be sold before the fleet is electrified.”

California traffic. Photo by Josh Denmark/USCBP. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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