Driving Down the Road to a Better Future for Earth: Zero-Emissions For Newly Purchased Vehicles by 2035 in New York State

Here are the details on how all vehicles in New York State will be zero emission by 2035.


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Over the next thirteen years, New York will be transitioning to completely zero-emission vehicles.

Earlier this fall, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that all newly purchased vehicles must be zero-emission by 2035 in New York State. In September 2022, at a press conference for the plan, Governor Hochul said, “We’re driving New York’s transition to clean transportation forward, and today’s announcement will benefit our climate and the health of our communities for generations to come.” Thus, through this legislation, we take a substantial step towards reducing a major cause of climate change, transportation, and a number of courses of action are in progress to guide New Yorkers along.

As directed by this proposal, the Department of Environmental Conservation now requires that new passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs to be electric or plug-in electric hybrid models by 2050. This will be accomplished through the Advanced Clean Cars II plan which hopes for an immense cut in New York’s greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 relative to its emission in 1990. Moreover, the introduction of completely zero-emission transportation will likely cut down its air pollution, as in 2018, transportation alone contributed to about 47% of New York’s carbon-dioxide emissions. Specific benchmarks have been set to maintain a smooth path to this goal. By 2026, an expected 35% of all new cars should be zero-emission, as well as an expected 68% in the following four years. Moreover, all newly purchased school buses specifically will be required to be zero-emission by the year 2027.

These standards reflect ongoing strides taken by the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In September of last year, Hochul signed prior legislation, setting in place the 2035 emission standards. Then, in December 2021, New York announced the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) Rule,  which works towards phasing out diesel trucks and moving them towards zero emissions. Since then, Advanced Clean Cars II has initiated the expansion of the ACT Rule into all vehicles and allowed for these plans to make the switch from goals to real progression. Even as of September 2022, the number of active electric vehicles is over 114,000.

These reductions in vehicle emissions also aspire to improve the situation of disparities in air pollution significantly. According to the American Lung Association, communities made up predominantly of low-income, Black, and Indigenous families are often disproportionately exposed to pollution and emissions. This directly results in excessive health risks and a higher number of premature deaths.

Additionally, in an attempt to expand the state’s role in the market for electric vehicles, the governor announced a ten-million-dollar investment in the Drive Clean Rebate Program, which allows buyers of specific electric cars to collect a rebate of up to $2,000.  This makes the transition to these models considerably more affordable, a major qualm for people attempting to go green. As of today, over 78,000 rebates have been issued.

As Leah Meredith, principal at the Advanced Energy Economy trade association, explains, “Adopting this (Drive Clean Rebate) program sends a loud and clear message to carmakers that New Yorkers want electric vehicles.” With the current limited supply of these vehicles, showing clear interest is key to ensuring that New York can obtain a greater variety of electric vehicles from manufacturers. This then incentivizes more New Yorkers to invest in zero-emission alternatives. On top of this, the outlined expectations will work towards strengthening the market for these vehicles as a whole, as reflecting demand for zero emission cars drives the economy and availability for them forward.

Furthermore, as electric vehicles continue to spread, so are other forms of technology that are just as important. As we speak, electric vehicle charging infrastructure is becoming increasingly accessible, even more so with the New York Power Association’s “EVolve NY” contributions. As recorded in September 2022, the number of charging stations stood at 10,000 across the state. An allotted $175 million for charging stations has allowed for more widespread availability of these hubs to recharge electric cars, which makes the switch to everyday electric-powered transportation more seamless. 

An increase in the number of charging stations in the area hopes to bring about more motivation towards buying zero-emission vehicles and mitigate the charging disadvantage that many are wary of while considering electric cars. September 2022 marked the accomplishment of 100 EVolve hubs, and by the end of this year, a total of 140 fast-charging hubs are set to be in place or under construction at strategically convenient locations throughout the state. According to the EVolve NY program, this fast-changing network is designed to allow for electric vehicle charging to take as little as fifteen minutes and no more than half an hour.

Moreover, not only are electric vehicles and their corresponding infrastructure expanding across the state, but across the country as well. After California, New York is the second state to adopt these rules, indicating that other states will hopefully soon follow suit and double down on these regulations. These guidelines were set just one month after California’s Air Resources Board voted to phase out gas car sales. Following the Golden State’s Clean Air Act in 1970, Congress consequently approved California to set its own emission standards from then onwards. Hence, while other states (including New York) may choose to execute these same standards, they do not go further and formulate their own requirements, putting California at the forefront of any state-led vehicle emission guidelines. 

Despite this, Governor Hochul responded with encouragement for New York, stating at a press conference, “We had to wait for California to take a step because there’s some federal requirements that California had to go first — that’s the only time we’re letting them go first.” While the state may have been forced to take more of a step back in previous years, it is especially important to recognize the responsibility and hope that now lies in the hands of even everyday citizens, looking to make the world just the slightest bit cleaner.

All in all, if everything goes according to schedule, New York will see a brighter future for both this generation and the next in the form of zero-emission vehicles that are driving towards the improved health of our people and planet. No one piece of legislation or way of tackling climate change is perfect by any means. But, at the very least, remember where you are now and where you will be when you take in both a breath and the state of New York in 2035.

Thus, through this legislation, we take a substantial step towards reducing a major cause of climate change, transportation, and a number of courses of action are in progress to guide New Yorkers along.