California leads the way in zero-emission transportation, but there are still challenges to overcome

In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced an executive order requiring all new passenger cars to be sold with zero emissions by 2035. Is this goal achievable?

Watch the video player above to find out what Golden State needs to do to cross the finish line to zero.

In California, we are known for our beaches, attractions and wine.

But we are also known for our traffic.

As the most populous state we have most cars on the roadwhich contributes to our cities with the most polluted air in the USA.

Federal numbers put California second only to Texas when it comes to transportation-related carbon emissions.

“The Future is Zero Emissions”

In September 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced order a requirement to sell all new zero-emission passenger cars by 2035 to combat the state’s vehicle pollution.

“The future is clear. The future is zero emissions,” said Patti Monahan, spokesperson for the California Energy Commission.

Is this goal achievable? Can California cross the finish line?

Currently, Golden State is a leader in the zero-emission transportation industry.

government data shows that sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have grown exponentially over the last decade.

Less than 7,000 zero-emission vehicles were sold in California in 2011, and 250,000 vehicles have been sold by 2021. This is about 70% higher than the average for the last three years, and three times more than in 2017.

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California also leads the way in this space. Zero emission cars in California now account for almost 40% of all zero emission cars bought in the country despite the fact that they only make up about 10% of all cars in the country.

The most popular brand was Telsa, which accounted for more than half of all zero-emission vehicle sales in 2021.

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Those who have driven these machines can vouch for them.

“They are so funny. They are so mobile,” said Ridley resident Marlene Alvarez.

Robert Dobbins of Orange County agreed.

“The car handles great, runs very well,” he said.

Monahan of the California Energy Commission said it was “lucky” to have clean energy technology that outperforms the gas equivalent.

“You have that with a battery electric vehicle, that 0 to 30 acceleration, low torque – it’s just better than having an internal combustion engine. So it’s fun to drive,” Monahan said.

More than just driving pleasure

American Lung Association scores that switching to zero-emission transportation and clean electricity in California could save $169 billion in public health benefits, prevent 440,000 asthma attacks, and save more than 15,000 lives.

But environmentalists worry about trade-offs like mining the materials needed for car batteries.

“To have electric vehicles, we need new metals that we have never needed before on such a scale, like lithium and cobalt,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director of environmental nonprofit Earthworks.

How to dispose of old batteries is also a concern.

“Old or damaged batteries, the lithium-ion batteries we use in electric vehicles are a fire hazard,” said Alyssa Kendall, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis. “And so it’s important to make sure these batteries are properly managed at the end of their life.”

Long way

Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for a record high 12% of all vehicle sales in California last year. But experts say it’s still a long way off.

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“We are at this critical time when both the introduction of new electric vehicles and the electric vehicle charging infrastructure are growing. And they both really need to grow together to really engage consumers,” said Ed Kim. , president of AutoPacific, an automotive market research firm.

Both the state and federal governments are investing billions of dollars to accelerate the adoption of charging stations.

California also has incentive programs to help offset the cost of the vehicles themselves, which can be more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles.

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Despite the encouraging signs, some serious challenges still stand in the way of California reaching its ambitious goals.

As part of this collaboration with the ABC-owned television station, we took a deep look at what Golden State must do to cross the finish line to zero.



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