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The Effects of California's Ban on Carbon Emission Cars

With the rise in efforts to combat climate change, different solutions are being pushed by states to combat global warming. Some states are doing more than others to make sure that our planet is livable in 50 years. But, are the laws and executive orders that states are passing actually going to help, or is it just for show? For example, California recently passed a law that would require all new cars sold in California to be emission free by 2035. Is this law really going to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions, or is it just another law to hide their inaction?

On the surface, stopping the sale of carbon emission cars in a state with the largest auto market in the United States is a great idea. It will cause a domino effect across all states slowing down the sale of carbon emission vehicles and creating a larger market for 100% clean energy cars. Especially with gas prices skyrocketing across the country with no end in sight, this allows for people to save money and by association help the environment (Why it could be a long time before Gas Prices Come Down, Time). However, while greenhouse gasses are a major contributing factor to climate change, electric cars also have unsustainable attributes. For example, the battery that powers electric cars; they are made with rare and raw materials like Cobalt. Seventy percent of cobalt manufacturing is done in Congo, and with already unsafe working conditions and the rise in demand, the effects on the people of this country will be drastic for the positive effect of electric vehicle production (How Green are Electric Vehicles?, The New York Times). 

Demand for increased production and the impact of the COVID-19 supply chain issues have been felt for months and will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future. Another issue is that most supplies are being brought overseas to California via cargo ship. The increased demand for materials partnered with the negative effects of cargo ships will create drastic climate change effects for the positive effects of electric cars. Container ships contribute to 3% of carbon emissions and as demand for electric car parts increases, their carbon footprint will as well. Since there are still some concerns regarding the environmental effects of this law, one can only hope that a law mandating the proper disposal of electric car batteries will soon pass. Due to the regulations around electric car batteries and the raw materials that go into creating these batteries, there will be a necessity to make sure that they are disposed of properly or repurposed.

While most of this article has been pointing out the negative effects like human rights concerns and recycling of a ban like this, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is progress. While I wish that we could solve climate change overnight, unfortunately that’s not possible and even small steps like this will make an impact, however uncertain it may be.


1. “Clean-car rules: California unveils proposed measure to ban new gasoline-fueled cars” Cal Matters

2. “Governor Newsom Announces California Will Phase Out Gasoline-Powered Cars & Drastically Reduce Demand for Fossil Fuel in California’s Fight Against Climate Change” CA Gov

3.”California Reveals Its Plan to Phase Out New Gas-Powered Cars by 2035” The New York Times

4. “How Green are Electric Vehicles?” The New York Times

5. “Ships” Transport and Environment,fail%20to%20reduce%20its%20pollution

6. “Why it Could Be a Long Time Before Gas Prices Come Down?” Time


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