We must phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 or sooner.
Every new gas-powered car that goes on the road commits us to decades of pollution.
That's why we think Massachusetts’ and Rhode Island’s ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions as required by their respective climate laws hinges on their commitment to end the saleof new gas-powered cars by 2035 or sooner. Green Energy Consumers Alliance supports policy in Rhode Island and Massachusetts focused on three main principles:
- we need cleaner cars;
- we need to advance the market for electric buses, trucks, and fleets;
- and we need to reduce the total number of vehicle-miles-travelled through better transit and bike/pedestrian networks.
One of the most critical steps Rhode Island can take in 2023 is to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II standards from California. These standards would require automakers to make an increasing percentage of the vehicles they sell electric from model year 2026 to 2035, reaching 100% electric in 2035. By adopting these standards, Rhode Island will join a national and international movement to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars and ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to all the new electric models being produced by manufacturers. Senator Alana DiMario and Representative Terri Cortvriend will introduce legislation in 2023 directing the Department of Environmental Management to adopt these standards ASAP.
In 2022, Massachusetts passed a huge new climate law, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, that moves forward lots of clean transportation priorities, notably committing the state to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and directing state agencies to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II standards coming out of California. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of adopting these standards. In January 2023, DEP held hearings on ACCII where we testified in support.
Our job in 2023 will be to make sure Massachusetts has in place policies that will (a) support EV adoption at the levels called for by ACCII and make EVs accessible to everyone who needs a car and (b) reduce vehicle-miles-traveled by supporting transit and active mobility. Click on a blog post at the bottom of the page to see the latest we’re working on!
Why it’s necessary
There are lots of good reasons to support a phaseout of new gas cars starting in 2035.
Transportation is the #1 emitter of greenhouse gas, ahead of buildings and now much greater than the electricity sector. We have policies in place to decarbonize the grid, but not so much on cars.
Transitioning to electricity as a fuel source for vehicles reduces per-mile GHG emissions by 75% in New England and electric vehicles will get cleaner every year as more electricity comes from zero-emissions sources like wind and solar.
Burning gasoline releases particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that directly harm human health through increased rates of asthma, emphysema, and heart disease. The American Lung Association calculates the benefits of widespread electrification as totaling over $18 billion in Massachusetts and $3.8 billion in Rhode Island between 2020 and 2050 in their Zeroing in on Healthy Air report.
People of color and low-income people are disproportionately burdened by the health harms of gasoline, thanks to decades of planning that sited polluting infrastructure, like highways and ports, right in those communities.
Energy independence and cost savings for drivers
Gasoline prices are volatile and influenced by international factors far out of our state’s control Price swings over the past couple of years have strained consumers’ budgets. Higher costs put a burden on drivers and pump money out of our states’ economy.
Electric vehicles are generally cheaper to fuel (although abnormally high electricity prices this winter have changed the math a bit) and keep our dollars in-state because electricity is a locally-generated resource. And, over the lifetime of the vehicle, EV drivers can expect half the repair and maintenance costs of gas-car drivers. All drivers should have access to the price stability and savings of driving on electricity as soon as possible, which we can only accomplish by increasing the number of new electric cars on the road.
Two-thirds of Americans never buy a new car in their lifetime, relying instead on the secondhand market. New car buyers are generally higher-income individuals.
A phaseout of new gas-powered cars will only affect the purchase decisions of the wealthiest car buyers and will increase the supply of secondhand electric cars throughout the 2030s to make the benefits of EV technology accessible to all. There will still be an ample selection of secondhand gas-powered vehicles in the secondhand market after 2035 for those who aren’t yet ready to make the switch.
Replacing polluting vehicles with less-polluting vehicles alone will not solve the climate and equity problems of our existing car-centric transportation system. A phaseout of gasoline must be done in conjunction with an effort to reduce vehicle-miles-travelled through improvements in transit and active mobility infrastructure so that travelers have multiple low-carbon options to get around.
Why it’s possible
We can do it. For real.
To meet our climate goals we must phase out gas cars by 2035. A phaseout of the sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035 doesn’t mean we will get rid of gas-powered cars overnight. A 2035 phaseout would be the beginning of a multi-decade transition that will give states time to create an equitable plan for drivers of all incomes and workers in the auto industry, as well as a plan to increase charging access, lower upfront costs of clean cars, and decrease dependence on personal vehicles overall.
Other countries, including France, the UK, and Germany, as well as the states of California, New York, and Washington have plans to end the sale of gas-powered cars.
Automakers are manufacturing dozens of electric car models and several are investing more in building electric cars than gas cars, including General Motors, Volvo, and Volkswagen. 2/3 of Americans are already considering an electric car for their next vehicle.
Electric cars are expected to cost the same to buy as comparable gas-powered cars by 2027.
Lower cost of ownership and better driving experience means that without policy intervention, half of new car sales will be electric by 2035 anyway due to consumer preference.
Our plan simply accelerates the trajectory we’re already on to ensure climate and health benefits sooner. Polling shows that 62% of Massachusetts voters and 55% of voters nationally support the idea of a phaseout starting in 2030. The national polling compared responses by race and showed that a gasoline phaseout is most popular among people of color, who are also most concerned about climate change and air pollution.
A phaseout of new gasoline car sales in 2035 represents the beginning of a 20-year transition period where gas vehicles slowly age out and are replaced with cleaner cars. This means establishing policy to prepare for 100% EV sales in 2035 will lead to a more doable and steady transition to electric vehicles than you might think.