California has suffered 8,136 fires in 2020 as of October 2nd, with fires still burning across the state. Scientists have confirmed numerous times that the disastrous fires that create smog and harsh air felt across the country are caused in part by the climate crisis. The hotter and drier days are creating a greater risk of fires. These fires have now burned more than 4 million acres throughout California.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon emissions and other pollutants trapped in the ozone layer and then alter the Earth’s natural climate, causing climate change. They are increasing the temperatures causing ice caps to melt and vegetation to dry out and wither away. California’s primary pollutant is from the transportation sector.
So, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order at the Cal Expo in Sacramento on the hood of an electric Mustang banning the sale and purchase of new gas-operated vehicles by 2035, there was a sense of hope. “Of all the simultaneous crises that we face as a state…none is more forceful than the issue of the climate crisis,” Governor Newsom said. “What we’re advancing here today is a strategy to address that crisis head on, to be as bold as the problem is big.” The order also requires medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2045, “where feasible.”
Although this is a step in the right direction, we have to ask ourselves, is it enough? After all, according to the clock installed at Union Square, we have less than eight years before climate change is irreversible, and the Earth is no longer the safe and generous home we’ve loved for so many years.
2035 is in fifteen years, meaning it’s seven years too late after the deadline. Even if new gas-operated cars are no longer purchased by then in California, used cars can still be purchased and driven. Furthermore, if this new legislation isn’t coupled with initiatives to replace fossil fuels with clean energy sources. In that case, the electric cars still won’t be completely emission-free since the electricity they run on will be coming from burning fossil fuels that still create pollution. However, California is still the only state who has taken the step away from gas-operated vehicles.
Several countries in Europe have already implemented legislation of their own. Canada has a target for all vehicles to be 100% electric by 2040. The U.K. recently changed their original goal to remove all internal combustion vehicles by 2040 to 2035 in light of recent events. And Norway has a target for zero-emissions cars and light vans by 2025. These are only a few countries that have such legislation in place. Although many countries also have insufficient timelines, the essential difference is that most of them have a target to remove all gas-operated vehicles from the market, not just new ones.
This isn’t the first time that the Governor failed to take the necessary action. Environmentalists have criticized him for making many empty promises and failing to provide actionable plans to achieve various goals. For example, the closure of Aliso Canyon, which had a gas blowout in 2015, poisoned many. Although Governor Newsome promised an “expedited closure,” he requested a new study regarding the closure with no timeline. Late last year, Governor Newsom disappointed the people of California when he decided to side with the Trump Administration and not protect the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act and instead to support private water interests.
So is this new order just a way to garner favor without actually following through with any action? Or will we see this order be expedited soon to accurately address the danger our planet is in? Regardless of the reality behind Newsom’s motives, more states need to implement legislation of their own. We must take action before it’s too late.
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Photo: geandann on Unsplash