New York is following in California’s tire tracks, taking drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Empire State will completely ban the purchase of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
“With sustained state and federal investments, our actions inspire New Yorkers, local governments and businesses to make the transition to electric vehicles. We are advancing New York’s transition to clean transportation, and today’s announcement will benefit our climate and the health of our communities for generations to come,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. statement outlining the new policy directive.
The regulatory step will bring New York closer to its statewide goal 85% reduction in emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
Transportation accounted for 28% of New York’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the 2021 Statewide Report— releasing 106.92 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere in a single year. The transition to electric vehicles is expected to significantly reduce these emissions, assuming the power grid also moves away from fossil fuels.
Hochul drove to a press conference in White Plains in a Chevy Bolt on Thursday morning, where she outlined plans for a future New York without gasoline. The regulation will come into force in stages.
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First, by 2026, 35% of all new light-duty vehicles sold in the state must be electric. Then, by 2030, that percentage will increase to 68%, rising to 100% by 2035. New pollution standards for gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured from 2026 to 2034 are also set to accompany electric vehicle mandates.
Other related policies include moving to an all-electric school bus fleet in New York City by 2035 and increased financial support for individuals and municipalities to purchase electric vehicles. The state is adding $10 million to the Drive Clean Discount program, which offers an incentive of up to $2,000 (in addition to the federal tax refund of up to $7,500) to encourage and help people buy electric cars. New York has already issued more than 78,000 rebates statewide, according to Hochul.
“You have no more excuses” not to buy an electric vehicle, Hochul said. “We are not heading towards this dead end [of gas vehicles] longer.” Although the initial costs of purchasing an electric vehicle are still relatively high, this cost fallsand some evaluations have shown that in the long term, electricity cars are cheaper to maintain and own than their gas counterparts.
California has adopted a similar policy in August, but Hochul didn’t just let the west coast take all the credit. The Governor emphasized that she signed the gas ban target in 2021. But she “had to wait for California to make a move because there’s a federal requirement that California had to go first – that’s the only time we’ve let them go first,” a- she added.
In addition to CO2 reductions, switching from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles could have significant public health benefits statewide. “Westchester is a Clean Air Act non-compliance area,” State Senator Pete Harckham said at Thursday’s press conference, pointing to the local benefits of reducing combustion vehicles. Air pollution is deadly and debilitating. And in New York, car exhaust is one of the largest contributors.
The announcement from New York is exciting, at a time when we desperately need gas-powered cars and dependence on fossil fuels die. Unfortunately, personal electric vehicles are not necessarily a perfect solution. There remain unresolved questions about how the current supply of materials needed like lithium, copper, and rare earth metals will be able to meet growing demand. And everything mining comes with its own environmental costs, even if they are less existentially pressing than climate change itself. Unfortunately, Hochul’s announcement did not address additional state funding for expansion of public transport.
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