California set to ban fossil fuel cars by 2035

California's more than 40 million consumers make it the biggest market in the United States. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - All new cars sold in California by 2035 will have to be zero emissions under plans set to be adopted by the state this week, as the biggest economy in the United States drives a nationwide fossil fuel evolution.

Proposals to be debated by the California Air Resources Board (Carb) this week will formalise targets set by Governor Gavin Newsom - and will likely prod other US states in the same direction.

The plans, which board member Daniel Sperling recently told CNN he was "99.9 per cent" confident would be adopted, also include incremental steps mandating more than a third of 2026 car sales in the state to be zero emissions, and over two-thirds by 2030.

"This is monumental," Mr Sperling told CNN. "This is the most important thing that Carb has done in the last 30 years. It's important not just for California, but it's important for the country and the world."

California's more than 40 million consumers make it the biggest market in the US.

As such, rules imposed there impact manufacturers' production plans across the country, as well as further afield, because they cannot afford to miss out.

This means California can, in effect, set national standards.

The likely ruling on Thursday (Aug 25) comes on the heels of a climate law signed last week by US President Joe Biden, which sets aside billions of dollars in incentives for clean energy programmes.

Mr Biden and his Democratic Party are rushing to make up climate policy ground they feel was lost under former president Donald Trump, who yanked the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and reversed what many environmentalists viewed as already-weak progress in combating the fossil fuel emissions that drive global warming.

In recent years, jurisdictions around the world, notably in Europe, have set their sights on the polluting car sector.

Norway is aiming to have all new cars produce zero tailpipe emissions by 2025.

Britain and Israel are eyeing 2030, while the European Union wants to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

Singapore plans to gradually phase out internal combustion engines and have all vehicles powered by clean energy by 2040. New registrations of diesel cars and taxis will cease from 2025, and new vehicles registered from 2030 will only be of cleaner-energy models.

Human-caused global warming has already raised average temperatures around the planet by 1.2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, affecting weather patterns and worsening natural hazards such as wildfires and storms.

Scientists say dramatic action is required to limit the damage, and point to curbing emissions from fossil fuels as key to the battle.

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