California Threatens Ban on Combustion Engines

California is not kidding around when it comes to fighting climate change and particularly dirty vehicles.

In reaction to the Trump administration’s plan to relax emissions standards in the United States, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has already turned to the courts and now its chairman Mary Nichols is talking about more stringent anti-pollution requirements.

The most extreme? A ban on internal combustion engines in the state. No date or timetable was given, but it would be a lot sooner than 2040, the year when the Clean Cars 2040 Act will come into effect forcing all new passenger vehicles sold in California to be zero-emissions vehicles.

Photo: William Clavey

“CARB will be exploring ways to ensure communities get the reductions of air pollution they so desperately need to keep the air clean and breathable—and continue to fight climate change,” Nichols said.

“That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources—and might lead to an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet commented on these statements by Nichols.

Photo: La Presse Canadienne

The ideological and legal battle between California and the federal government is causing uncertainty for automakers, which would rather have a clear and predictable framework to build their business plans on, particularly when it comes to technology development.

President Trump would like to limit Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automakers to 37 mpg after 2020. Under the existing plan from the Obama years, these standards are set to rise to 47 mpg.

Elsewhere around the world, a couple of European countries along with India and China have already adopted a strategy to phase out internal combustion engines. Similar to California, British Columbia recently announced a bill to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

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