Sept. 23 (UPI) -- California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday to end the sale of new internal-combustion passenger vehicles by 2035.
Standing before a row of luxury electric vehicles, Newsom announced the executive order, describing it as a bold measure to combat climate change, the most impactful of the many crises the state is facing, as California endeavors to make its economy carbon-free by 2045.
"We can't continue down this path if we're going to achieve our audacious goals and as a consequence today, we are making a new course, we are setting a new marker," Newsom said during the press conference, adding that "in the next 15 years we will eliminate in the state of California the sales of internal combustion engines. We will move forward to green and decarbonize our vehicle fleet."
The governor's office said in a statement that the transportation sector is responsible for more than half of the state's carbon pollution, 80% of its smog-forming pollution and 95% of its toxic diesel emissions. The state of some 40 million people in 2019 had more than 36 million registered vehicles, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
By removing gasoline-powered vehicles from California's roads, the governor's office said greenhouse gas emissions will drop by 35% and oxides of nitrogen emissions would decrease 80%.
"This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change," Newsom said in a statement.
The executive order does not prevent the sale of gasoline-powered cars on the used car market.
The California Air Resources Board will now develop relegations to mandate that 100% of new cars and trucks sold in the state by 2035 will be zero emissions and develop a plan for all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles where feasible to be zero emissions by 2045, the regulation said.
"For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe," he said in the statement. "Californians shouldn't have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn't make wildfires worse -- and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn't melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."
The executive order was signed amid one of the most disastrous wildfire seasons in California's history, resulting in nearly 8,000 fires scorching more than 3.6 million acres. It also follows a summer during which temperatures in Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.
The Coalition for Clean Air, a non-profit organization based in California, said it "fully supports" the executive order.
"The governor's executive order is a meaningful step in addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health of Californians," the organization said in a statement. "Electrifying transportation will also create jobs and help California move forward in its economic recovery."
Al Gore, former vice president and environmental activist, cheered Newsom's measure, stating that California continues to lead in the fight against climate change.
"Clean technology is here," Gore tweeted. "Let's use it."