Last week, the state took several steps to advance and to promote actions in an attempt to reverse climate change.

Electric vehicles

How will drivers power all those new electric vehicles that will be on California’s roads and highways in the next dozen years?

In August, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved regulations to prohibit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 2035 or later. Over the next 10 years, the percentage of new gas-powered vehicles sold in the state must gradually decline to zero in 2035.

As gas-powered vehicles decline, new zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrid emission vehicles will become the principal means of private transportation.

The fuel for gas-powered vehicles is provided at gasoline stations located on almost every corner in commercial areas. The electric powered vehicles will need charging and today, California does not have the electric infrastructure to support such a large shift.

However, on Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved a $3 billion spending plan to provide another 90,000 new electric vehicle chargers in the state.

“California is bringing our roads and highways into the 21st century with electric vehicle chargers in every community, in every corner of our state,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in the press release announcing the decision. “We are transforming transportation in California …”

`This level of spending is 30 times the commission’s 2019 level and will double California’s charging stations from 80,000 to 170,000. It is a component of the effort to accelerate the state’s transition to clean transportation and the goal of 250,000 public charging stations by 2025.

The sales of new zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrid emission vehicles, which is currently 16% of new vehicles sold in California, must reach 35% in 2026, 68% in 2030 and 100% five years later.

The state has been working with manufacturers and is confident this goal can and will be met. The number of emission-free vehicles sold in state has grown from less than 1% in 2011, to 5% in 2018. In 2021, their sales passed 10% and in the first quarter of 2022, sales of zero-emission vehicles in California exceeded 16%.

Car manufacturers, such as Ford Motors and Toyota, have expressed their support to achieve these goals.

Sales of these zero-emission vehicles in the first two quarters of 2022 were slightly more than 160,000, which is greater than their total sales in 2019 and 2020 (Electric Vehicle Market Report). And in November, nearly 80,000 plug-in electric vehicles were sold, 31% more than a year ago.

Statewide plan

One day later, the CARB approved the final proposed 2022 Scoping Plan to address climate change. Its goal is cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 85% and achieving carbon neutrality in 2045.

The CARB action completes the two-year process, which included public meetings, workshops, presentations and two board meetings with comments from hundreds of members of the public, stakeholders and community members.

While the plan relies on several successful climate programs currently in effect, it will attempt to accelerate and increase their pace and scale. This includes the need for an accelerated target of a 48% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the end of this decade.

The 2022 Scoping Plan includes a commitment to build no new fossil gas-fired power plants and increases support for mass transit. It also calls for a multi-agency process to ensure that the transition away from oil extraction and refining is equitable.

“Implementing this plan will achieve deep decarbonization of our entire economy, protect public health, provide a solid foundation for continued economic growth, and drastically reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuel combustion. It will clear the air in our hardest hit communities,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph in the press release announcing the plan’s adoption.

“Now begins the hard work of putting the plan into action … To reach carbon neutrality in less than a quarter of a century will require all levels of government, all stakeholders — indeed, everyone in the Golden State to be part of the solution. There is no time to waste,” he added.