Watch the video player above for a deep dive into what Golden State must do to cross the finish line on the road to zero.
In California, we are known for our beaches, landmarks and wine.
But, we are also known for our traffic.
Federal numbers puts California second only to Texas in transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions.
“The future is zero emissions”
In September 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a executive decree Demanding sales of all new passenger cars to be zero emissions by 2035 to combat state transport pollution.
“The future is clear. The future is zero emissions,” said Patty Monahan, commissioner for the California Energy Commission.
Is this goal possible? Can California cross the finish line?
Golden State is currently the leader in the zero-emission transportation industry.
Status details shows that sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars have grown exponentially in the last decade.
In 2011, less than 7,000 zero-emission cars were sold in California and by 2021, 250,000 were sold. This is about 70% higher than the average of the last three years and has tripled since 2017.
California also leads the nation in this area. Zero-emission cars in California are now almost non-existent 40% of all zero emission cars purchased in the country despite the fact that they make up only about 10% of all cars in the country.
The most popular brand was Telsa, which accounted for more than half of zero-emission car sales in 2021.
Those who have driven these cars can vouch for them.
“They’re so much fun. They’re so happy,” said Reedley resident Marleen Alvarez.
Robert Dobbins of Orange County agreed.
“The car has excellent behavior, it has very good performance,” he said.
Monahan, of the California Energy Commission, said it was “lucky” to have a clean energy technology that is superior to that of gas.
“You have that with a battery-powered electric vehicle, accelerating from zero to 30, low torque is just better than having an internal combustion engine. So, it’s fun to drive,” Monahan said.
More than just fun to drive
The Estimates of the American Pulmonary Society that switching to zero-emission transportation and clean electricity in California could save $ 169 billion in public health benefits, avoid 440,000 asthma attacks and save more than 15,000 lives.
But environmentalists are worried compromises such as mining for materials needed for car batteries.
“To have electric vehicles, we need new metals that we never needed again on a scale, metals like lithium and cobalt,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director of environmental nonprofit Earthworks.
The way old batteries are disposed of is also a concern.
“Old or damaged batteries, lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles pose a fire hazard,” said Alissa Kendall, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UC Davis. “And therefore, it is important to make sure that these batteries are properly controlled at the end of their life.”
Sales of electric and hybrid cars accounted for the all-time high of 12% of all car sales in California last year. But experts say there is still a long way to go.
“We are at a critical juncture where both the introduction of new electric vehicles and the electric vehicle charging infrastructure are growing. Both really need to be developed together in order for consumers to be truly involved,” said Ed Kim, President of AutoPacific. a car market research company.
Both the state and the federal government are investing billions of dollars to speed up the implementation of charging stations.
California has too incentive programs to help offset the cost of the vehicles themselves, which may be more expensive than traditional gas-powered cars.
Despite the promising signs, some significant challenges are still an obstacle to California achieving its ambitious goals.
In this collaboration with ABC television, we took a deep dive into what Golden State must do to cross the finish line on the road to zero.
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