Though the leaders of some countries (we won’t name names) feel the Paris accord treats them unfairly, most other world powers are justifiably concerned about rising sea levels, increasingly severe and unpredictable weather patterns, and the chaos that climate change promises to bring.
One huge factor is all the polluting, gas-guzzling cars on the roads. But a growing list of countries wants to skip ahead in the race to carbon neutral. Here are those that are already legislating the zero-emissions future of their automobiles.
The Chinese government hasn’t set a date for when their plan to ban gas cars will go into effect, but Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, has announced a clear intention to do so. Experts anticipate that the ban will go into effect somewhere around 2030, when the world’s largest producer of automobiles had previously agreed to put a strict cap on carbon emissions.
The world’s largest democracy is also one of its most polluted countries. In an effort to curb pollution that some estimates say contributes to 1.2 million deaths per year, last summer the Indian government announced the “ambition, that by 2030, all vehicles sold in India may be electric-powered.” The country’s energy department’s plan is aspirational, dependent on the logic of the markets and tied to costs of electric cars dropping to make the plan feasible. But the post is optimistic and cites studies like one out of Berkeley Lab that predict cost-parity being reached somewhere near 2022.
France recently announced plans to end the sales of all gas-powered cars by 2040 (paywall). This would dramatically cut the remaining carbon emissions in the country, which is already getting 80% of its power from nuclear energy.
After more than 200 days of negotiating, the lengthiest coalition talks in decades, the Dutch government decreed in July that every car on the road needs to be emissions free by 2030. Though Electrek reports that a more accurate read on the announcement would be that all new cars sold after 2030 must be zero-emissions—and not that gas-powered cars will be forcibly removed from circulation—it is still a lofty goal for a country with less than 2% market share for electric vehicles.
Reuters reported this past July that, after losing a multiple legal cases urging the reduction of air pollutants, prime minister Theresa May’s government pledged to make “almost every car and van” zero-emission by 2050. With an average replacement time of around 10 years, this would necessitate that all new cars sold in the UK be electric by 2040.
Reported as a ban when the news first came out a year ago last summer, the Norwegian plan is probably more accurately described as a financial imperative to not buy gas-powered cars. Through the passage of even more generous tax incentives and subsidies, the plan is to price-out all combustion engines by 2025.
Starting as early as 1990, the Norwegian government gradually passed tax incentives and subsidies to move the country towards an emissions-free future and this is why electric cars have 20% market share in the country. It’s important to note that this plan comes from a country that is also one of the largest exporters of oil and it is planning to pull the plug on some of those subsidies.
Europe’s largest economy is getting closer to such a ban. Earlier this month, Forbes reported that the Bundesrat—which represents the 16 states of Germany at the national level—passed a resolution banning combustion engine cars by 2030. A resolution is not a law, but passing across party-lines does signal a willingness to begin to steer the iconic and powerful German auto industry towards an emission-free future.
Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens are just a few of the cities that plan on instituting bans on gas-powered cars, of one sort or another, while cities like Oslo and Copenhagen are working on plans to ban cars altogether.
With 2 million cars registered in the US state last year, California has more cars on the road than many countries. Now, in direct defiance of a federal administration that’s questioned the validity of climate science, Bloomberg reports that California’s governor, Jerry Brown, has signaled an intention to move towards a similar ban.