California is to ban the sale of new petrol-only vehicles by 2035, marking a historic step in the state’s attempts to tackle climate change.
The new rules are aimed to force car makers to accelerate the introduction to the market of cleaner vehicles.
It comes after Governor Gavin Newsom set a target in 2020 to speed up the shift away from fossil fuels.
The move is important as California is the most populous state in the US and one of the world’s biggest economies.
Under the rules, issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), 35% of new vehicles sold in the state must be electric, hybrid or hydrogen-powered by 2026.
The regulations would apply to 68% of vehicle sales by 2030, and 100% by 2035.
CARB chair Laine Randolph said the move was “a historic moment for California, for our partner states and for the world as we set forth a path toward a zero emission future”.
The announcement is the latest move by California as it continues to move faster than the US federal government to tighten emission rules.
With more than 39m residents, California is the biggest US state by population. If it was a standalone country it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world by gross domestic product, putting it ahead of the United Kingdom.
Joseph Mendelson, senior counsel at electric carmaker Tesla, said CARB’s plan was “both achievable and paves the way for California to lead in electrifying the light duty sector”.
However, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation – which represents carmakers including General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota – said more needed to be done to boost demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
“What we’ve said to CARB and others is that getting more EVs on the road must go hand-in-hand with other policies that together will ultimately determine the success of this transition,” the alliance’s president and chief executive John Bozzella said.
The new rules still have be approved by the US government before they can take effect.
However, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association called on President Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency to “reject California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver to proceed with this unlawful ban.”