On Sept. 23, the government of California took a big step in fighting the worsening climate crisis. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, signed an executive order banning gasoline cars and another law regulating recyclable content in plastic bottles.
The first law the Governor passed was in regards to gasoline cars. According to the National Public Radio, the California government plans to completely eliminate the sale of gasoline cars in the state by 2035 in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions. However, this law will only stop the manufacture of new gasoline vehicles— it will not ban residents from owning and selling gasoline cars.
NPR states that the number of electric vehicles being sold has risen over past years, but only 8% of the total amount of cars sold in the state were electric in 2019. The new law aims to encourage more residents to drive zero emission vehicles.
This law will impact small communities, such as our very own Santa Clarita Valley. The Paw Print sat down with Mrs. Solarez, the AP Environmental Science teacher, to talk more about this law and how it will affect our community.
Mrs. Solarez explained, “The direct impact of these laws, as a consumer, will start to make people think about your consumption choices for what type of vehicle you want to purchase, or if you have a company, you will have to look at how they are going to look at their purchasing if there’s laws going into compliance.”
“If you are looking at getting a new car, this law might change your mind and [influence your decision] to buy an electric or hydroelectric vehicle, something that has a higher fuel efficiency or that isn’t using a lot of fossil fuels,” described Mrs. Solarez.” I think that a big thing is that people have switched, however there are many that can’t afford it and [there have been] some people on the side and [have been] lenient on making the switch.”
“Now that we have this mandate most people want to be compliant, follow the rules, and do what is right. People will [now have to] stop and look at all their options and explore it,” she concludes.
This law will have a significant impact on communities around the country, as eliminating gasoline cars will encourage residents to make the switch to electric cars. It does not come without controversy though, as critics argue that the production of electric batteries releases pollution, and hurts the environment. According to Forbes, this is true—the mining of metals for EV batteries can release carbon emissions. However, most emissions of electric vehicles come from the manufacturing process. Electric vehicles release almost zero carbon emissions, as they do not depend on combustion to run. As electric vehicles become more widely used, the manufacturing and recycling processes will become more efficient, and manufacturers will not depend on mining as much. Clearly, these vehicles, on a larger scale, will decrease the amount of carbon emissions.
The second law the Governor passed was in regards to recyclable content in plastic bottles. According to abc30.com, this law states that plastic must have 15% recyclable content by 2022, 25% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. This bill will be a large step towards saving the climate as bottles work their way to being 50% recyclable. A press release from the governor’s office described the plastic bill as one that will “develop domestic markets for recycled materials and take a step towards a circular economy.”
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is meant to benefit society, and it aims to gradually decrease the reliance on nonrenewable resources. It is based on three principles: eliminating waste and pollution, keeping materials in use and restoring natural systems. Newsom’s law will reduce the dependence on “virgin” plastics, newly made plastics derived from resources such as natural gases, petroleum resources and crude oils. This in turn will help transition the economy away from fossil fuels, which will improve the environment.
Mrs. Solarez believes that the recycling mandate will not have a huge impact on the community since it is “mostly about products, [and we] will not have a lot of options.” She expects people to complain, “just like straws and stuff people will fight it for a little bit [but then] will look at alternatives. I think it is something that will just switch too.”
Both of these laws will have a positive impact on climate change, both on different scales. Although the California government is taking big steps to fight climate change, some students would like to see the government also focusing on other issues.
Sophomore Sana Meher thinks “we need to see more things regarding trees” because “we have a lot of habitat destruction going on.” She continued, “I don’t mean regarding fires, because obviously some of those fires are natural, but I mean where wild areas are destroyed for housing. I think we need to rethink how we destroy land and try to aim for a way where we can have all that land but we still have the same amount of forest and natural habitat, because first of all, the trees are cleaning our air, and they are also habitats for the animals and wildlife, that we need and are probably endangered.”
Nicole Gutierrez, a junior, explained the issue of polluted water that many around the US have to handle: “Water is essential to life. It doesn’t need to be explained how important this item is. Unfortunately, despite this, water pollution is one of the most serious ecological threats. We are seriously blessed to not worry about if our water is contaminated, however there are [m]illions of people who do have to be concerned about this. I think that this doesn’t necessarily relate to our government, but I think that our country should be involved in helping those who have limited access to clean water. After all we’ll all be gone without it.”
Although the government is responsible for passing policies to fight the climate crisis, it is also up to the people to try to make a difference.
“I don’t really think it’s just about the government, rather, it is about each and every one of us and what we can do now to fight the climate crisis,” senior Camille Blanco stated. “Every little bit counts. Our present direction (as it relates to the climate crisis) is not a sustainable course, and while we are seeing some extreme climate changes, our children, grandchildren, etc. will be the ones suffering from and paying for the consequences of our conduct. We seem to live and spend the resources of our planet as though resources are unlimited and infinite, but they are not. The government has to lead, but it is up to each and every one of us to reverse the impact that we have caused as a human race.”
The new mandates passed by the government were put into place with the intention of fighting pollution and climate change. This is a large step forward, and it will have a positive impact on the climate. It is important to realize that even though the government has made the first step, it is also the responsibility of the people to actively participate to save our planet.