Climate change isn’t just something happening in the future—in our children and grandchildren’s time. It’s happening right now. We only have to look at the increasingly frequent extreme weather events we’re experiencing.
While climate change and global warming aren’t the only causes of these events, they definitely mean we’re having more of them, more often, and with devastating record-breaking effects.
It’s become increasingly clear that the goals set to reduce global warming at the Paris Accords aren’t enough. The 2015 agreement targeted keeping global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to keep them below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To meet these goals the Paris agreement called for reaching Net Zero by 2050, with emissions being balanced by carbon sequestration or “drawdown” techniques. But we’re already well on our way to surpass these goals; by 2016 global temperatures have already risen 1.2 degrees Celsius.
We don’t have the luxury of waiting till 2050 for Net Zero. We have to get to Net Zero much faster.
In California, transportation has recently replaced electricity as the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions. As renewable energy becomes less expensive, the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity has declined while the emissions from the transportation sector have increased to 39 percent, of which two-thirds are from cars and light trucks.
Because transportation is the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions emissions in California, it represents the largest opportunity for smart climate policy.
But it won’t be enough to raise fuel standards; it won’t be enough to have a lot of hybrids on the road; it won’t be enough to increase zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) from the current 5 percent to the 40 percent that Gov. Brown’s recent executive order would provide for in 2030. What we need is to have 100 percent of new vehicles be ZEVs as soon as possible.
On Jan. 3, Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco introduced a bill to do just that. Assembly Bill 1745, the Clean Cars Act of 2040, mandates that any new vehicle registered in California after Jan. 1, 2040, must be a ZEV.
It wouldn’t require anyone to get rid of an existing vehicle; no one is going to “come and take your cars.” But it would mean that there would quickly be a majority of ZEVs on the road.
Increasingly, electric vehicles are becoming affordable and accessible for everyone. Auto manufacturers are gearing up to produce many of them. By 2019, all Volvos will be electric or hybrids; by 2023 General Motors will release 20 new all-electric models; and by 2030 two-thirds of Ford’s vehicles will be electric.
And they aren’t alone. Volkswagen is bringing back the bus as an ZEV — the BUZZ will be available in 2022. VW will also have a crossover SUV in 2020, and they plan to have 30 electric models by 2025. Toyota has partnered with Mazda and Suzuki for electric vehicles, and even Jaguar will have an SUV this fall.
With all these models becoming available, prices are rapidly declining; by 2025 ZEVs will be comparable in cost to fossil fuel vehicles. Meanwhile, range and storage are increasing as are the number of charging stations. Gov. Brown’s executive order last January will increase them more than ten-fold over the next decade.
With few moving parts, maintenance for ZEVs is negligible, and they cost about $5 per 100 miles to drive versus $12 per 100 miles for fossil fuel vehicles.
Accelerating this transition to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles will improve our communities, our health, and the air we breathe by reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.
To garner support for the Clean Cars 2040 Act, the Center for Climate Protection is holding a free launch party and rally Thursday, March 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa.
Whether you attend or not, please sign a petition in support the Clean Cars 2040 Act at the Center for Climate Protection website.
Please join us as we build support for this critical piece of legislation.
You can also contact your Assembly member to support this bill (AB 1745), which is currently in the Transportation Committee. The Assembly Member for District 4, which includes Napa, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, is a member of that committee. If you are in her district, please be sure to let her know how important this bill is to you.