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California to require climate stickers for autos

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(Read caption) A Toyota dealer in Northridge, Calif.

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Californians in the market for a new car next year might spot something new on the windshields: an environmental performance sticker.

Thanks to a rule signed into law this week, beginning Jan. 1, 2009, all new cars must bear a label displaying the state's assessment of the vehicle's environmental impact. Showroom models could start bearing these labels as early as next month.

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A press release from California's Air Resources Board explains the rating system:

The environmental performance label will provide two scores on a scale of 1-10, a Smog Score and a Global Warming Score. The average new car will score five on both scales. The higher the score the less impact the car has on the environment.

Here's what the stickers will look like:

(Graphic courtesy of California's Air Resources Board)

"This label will arm consumers with the information they need to choose a vehicle that saves gas, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps fight smog all at once," said Air Resources Boars chair Mary Nichols in the press release. "Consumer choice is an especially powerful tool in our fight against climate change. We look forward to seeing these stickers on 2009 model cars as they start hitting the showrooms in the coming months."

California's law, which was backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), is not the only one to mandate stickers that display a car's global warming score. The state joins New York, which will require climate stickers on new cars beginning in the 2010 model year.

A smog index label, which has been incorporated into the new sticker's design, has been used in California since 1998. Some 13 other states have adopted California's Low Emission Vehicle Regulations, which require the smog labels.

The board also hosts a website listing the cleanest autos on the market.

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[via TreeHugger]