By Annika Henthorn
California wildfires have become the pinnacle of climate change. With its relentless blaze ripping through its home turf these fires have continued to grow in both its intensity and duration, propelled by a perfect storm hand-crafted by climate change. Climate change is no longer an issue of the future, but a problem knocking at our front door, not just specifically the US, but everywhere. The fires in Australia, the ever-melting glaciers in Antarctica, and the rising sea levels eating up the coasts of countries everywhere are only a few of the overarching symptoms that climate change has inflicted.
In an effort to combat this, according to NPR KQED, Governor Gavin Newsom released an executive order to “phase out the sale of all gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.” He considers it “the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change.”
Despite it being the most ambitious climate change policy the US has ever seen, it will still allow gasoline-powered cars to be sold and bought on the used-car market. However, this policy has received pushback from Trump, in hopes of revoking the zero-emission mandate for vehicles. A spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research, deemed the order by Newsom "another silly distraction from real problems."
Additionally, a senior economist from the same institute agreed that “if people want to drive electric cars, they'll buy them. You don't have to eliminate the competition." He also added that although electric cars “might not have emissions at a tailpipe,” they “do have emissions at the power plant.”
Transportation has remained the top dog for emissions in the US, where electricity is rapidly declining due to new-found innovations and “ambitious climate policies.” This gap continues to widen because, according to Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds, the online resource for automobile information, "many automakers have been guilty of setting short-term targets for their electrification strategy that never came to fruition." She praised Newsom for establishing “a specific timeline that they'll collectively need to adhere to.”
Assembly member, Phil Ting, supported the governor’s statement by arguing that “the fastest way to make the biggest dent in slowing the effects of global warming is to embrace cleaner cars.” According to The Sacramento Bee, Dan Sperling, a UC Davis engineering professor and a member of the air resource board, stated that “this is the future” and “there’s no question that we’re going to switch to electric vehicles.” In his opinion, it’s “really just a question of how fast and exactly what technology we use.”
Currently, the market for zero-emission cars has been increasing; however, they still only “accounted for fewer than 8% of all new cars sold in California last year,” according to NPR KQED. Leaders in gasoline-powered vehicles have continued to voice the economic collapse that the policy will ultimately lead to since, currently, electric cars only make up a fraction of the cars being bought.
This policy has stirred a lot of controversy in regards to its effect economically and what it entails for the future. Overall, it comes down to whether you believe the means justify the ends?
Melanie Moyer '22,