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Center releases a survey on global activities to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles

by Isabella Burch, The Climate Center

In January, California Assemblymember Phil Ting introduced the Clean Cars 2040 Act to address the pervasive issue of air pollution in our state. This would allow the only new vehicle registrations in California to be Zero Emissions Vehicles starting in 2040.  The Clean Cars 2040 Act reflects a global movement to improve air quality through innovative transportation policy, moving away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. California looks to lead the United States as an early participant in this movement.

The international push towards clean cars has been called a “ban” on ICE vehicles. It can be challenging to understand how the governments of China, India, France, and many more countries intend to replace ICE vehicles. How will these policies be enforced? Are these decisions the result of constituent sentiments or top-down decision-making?

The Climate Center produced “A Survey on Global Activity to Phase Out Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles” as a policy brief containing the answers to these questions. We found that at the country-level, structured legislation does not exist. The so-called “bans” actually involve establishing national targets and introducing incentive programs to phase out ICE vehicles based on national goals for emissions reductions.

Cities are further along in enforcing policies that phase out ICE vehicles. Paris, London, and Delhi are just a few of the cities that have introduced registration policies, labelling systems, and zoning guidelines that favor clean transportation and pedestrians. We also surveyed the participation of automotive manufacturers in the clean car trend. Large manufacturers are revamping their business strategies and changing their product offerings to include more, if not all, electric vehicles as soon as next year.

Taking a global perspective, the central idea of the Clean Cars 2040 Act is gaining momentum. After producing this brief, we felt hopeful knowing that there is widespread recognition that phasing out ICE vehicles will significantly reduce air pollution and improve our quality of life. While there is still a lot of work to be done, the support that exists will be an important foundation to advance bills like the Clean Cars Act.