Plagued by heatwaves and wildfires thought to be direct consequences of climate change, the state of California took drastic action this week, by announcing its plan to eliminate sales of new cars equipped with internal combustion engines and move to 100 percent emission-free vehicles.
“Transportation is responsible for more than 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions,” the state’s governor Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter, adding that “we will use our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.”
And while that certainly is a big and important step for California, it may sound like a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things – after all California is just one of 50 U.S. states. With that in mind, it’s important to point out that California is not only the most important passenger car market in the United States, but one of the largest in the world.
With new registrations of 1.89 million light vehicles in 2019, California ranks 10th compared to all countries in the world, level with Italy and a little behind key European markets such as France and the UK. Compared to Norway, a famous leader in electric mobility, the Californian market is more than 10 times as large, illustrating that yesterday’s announcement can make a huge difference, especially considering the technological and financial clout located in the Golden State.