California regulators on Thursday will vote to put in a sweeping plan to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of petrol-powered cars. This move has been described by the states governor as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine. 

The new policy, detailed Wednesday morning in a news conference is widely expected to accelerate the global transition towards electric vehicles. 

Not only is California the largest auto market in the United States, but more than a dozen other states typically follow California’s lead when setting their own auto emissions standards. 

If those states follow through, and most are expected to adopt similar rules, the restrictions will apply to about a third of the United States auto market. 

“This is huge, they will drive the market, and drive innovation,” said Margo Oge, an electric vehicles expert who headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s transportation emissions program under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  

The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, will require that all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide. The rule also sets interim targets, requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold by 2026 produce zero emissions. That requirement climbs to 68 percent by 2030. 

The new policy in California follows an expansive new climate law signed by President Biden last week. The law will invest $370 billion in spending and tax credits on clean energy programs, the largest action taken by the federal government to combat climate change. The legislation is projected to help the United States cut its emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade.