British Columbia has followed through on a plan to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040.

On Wednesday, the province passed the Zero Emissions Vehicles Act, which requires that all cars sold in the province by 2040 be "zero emissions vehicles." That includes electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles—so many of the cars could potentially be plug-in hybrids with gasoline range extenders.

By 2025, 10 percent of car sales in the province need to fit that definition, and the requirements ramp up through 2040.

2019 Nissan Leaf

2019 Nissan Leaf

The move is designed to get automakers to send more plug-in vehicles to the province, says Clean Energy Canada Policy Director Dan Woynillowicz. "This is going to go a long way toward addressing a problem we've had in British Columbia, which is we have more British Columbians interested in buying electric cars than we have electric cars on dealership lots," he told the CBC.

British Columbia offers electric-car buyers a 5,000 Canadian dollar ($3,700 U.S.) purchase incentive (a point-of-sale rebate), in addition to the new Canadian national CA$5,000 tax credit

The new act is, by its timeline, the most aggressive electric-car agenda in North America. In September, California passed a plan to go zero carbon by 2045; that zero emissions vehicle program targets "nearly 100 percent of new vehicle sales" by 2050.

Criticism of the law mostly focuses on loopholes that reduce its effectiveness, including a credit trading system for manufacturers that will allow some to sell more gas and diesel vehicles until 2040, and no prohibition on buying cars in other provinces and registering them in B.C.

B.C. joins Britain, Israel, China, Norway, the Netherlands, France, India, and a growing number of other countries around the world that plan to ban internal combustion engines in the future.