Momentum Toward ZEV Adoption Takes A Village

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States, regions, cities, international businesses groups, and other NGOs are urging the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) around the world to decarbonize the transport sector. A new “Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Challenge” has been launched by The Climate Group and C40 Cities to gather momentum for electric and other clean vehicles. The coalition says that “The scale of opportunity is bigger than we’ve ever seen before.” What’s different with this EV activism? They’re bringing together global purchasing power — hitting ’em in the wallet and playing the capitalism game on the offense.

ZEV Challenge
Graphic courtesy WheelZine

As well as creating a fiscal gestalt from existing commitments, the ZEV Challenge leaders are urging the global auto industry to pledge to accelerate the manufacture of EVs and to step up production to satisfy the growing demand. They are urging other leaders in key groups as well to join the effort to signal “an endgame for fossil-fuel vehicles” and drive forward progress toward a clean future.

The ZEV Challenge brings together existing climate change activist programs which up to now have been focused on separate sectors to amplify their collective purchasing power and influence on the transportation market. By providing an opportunity for key players in the auto sector to position themselves as leaders in the large-scale transition to EVs, the ZEV Challenge increases the likely speed to a Zero Emissions Future and plays a full role delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Climate Group has always sought the cessation of mass internal combustion engine (ICE) transportation, as these vehicles have emissions that pose health risks and are a significant contribution to climate change.

The ZEV Challenge announcement is designed to accelerate trends already underway in several nations, regions, states, and cities. Countries like France and the UK have already promoted end dates for the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel-fueled engines. Others like California have committed to putting 5 million zero-emission vehicles on their roads and highways by 2030.

ZEV Challenge
Image courtesy of Softpedia News

Bringing Together Multiple Constituents for the ZEV Transition

The ZEV Challenge is a multi-pronged effort.

  • More multinational businesses are being challenged to join EV100, the lead business commitment to fleet electrification by 2030 and charging infrastructure.
  • Automakers are being asked to acknowledge their willingness to envision and act upon ending the manufacture of ICEs and, in the meantime, commit to a ZEV percentage of sales by 2025.
  • States and regions are called upon to join a new Under2 Coalition ZEV initiative, run in close cooperation with the International Zero-Emission ZEV Alliance, which is focused on procurement, infrastructure, and policy.
  • Some of the largest cities and states in the world are today also backing this call. The ZEV Challenge is being supported by the State of California, New York City, Paris, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Rome, Copenhagen, Pittsburgh, Mexico City, Medellin, the Australian Capital Territory, and Navarra.

Medellín, Columbia is an interesting example of how electric mobility in Latin America can positively impact the welfare of its citizens. As Medellín promotes sustainable means of transport, they are replacing and buying electrical buses for their public transportation system, Metroplús. 100% of the new vehicles will be electrical, and, as diesel or gasoline public transport fleet are removed from active use, they’ll be transitioned to 100% electric vehicles. Implementing such public policies towards climate change and sustainability takes into account the long-term health and needs of Medellín’s citizens.

“Zero emission vehicles are the way to go,” says California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. “They’re good for people’s health, they’re good for the air, and they’re good for helping to stop the catastrophic increase in global warming.”

ZEV Challenge

How Purchasing Power Ushers In More ZEVs

Improving the energy efficiency of the economy as a whole comes through deep electrification, or taking the standard activities that are powered by burning fuels and using electricity instead. In the old days that meant replacing kerosene lamps with electric light bulbs, but today that means replacing gasoline-powered automobiles with electric vehicles.

EDF Energy President Jean-Bernard Levy said, “The ZEV Challenge resonates with our belief in the electrification of the economy, and when beliefs are aligned with actions, people are happy to deliver. People get the sense of urgency and this helps us align our strategy with concrete goals.”

Electricity is valuable because it is so versatile — it provides clean motion, heat, light, and information. It is a necessary and constant commodity in our western lives. Electrification helps to mitigate climate change because it provides a segue to low- or zero-carbon energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, and geothermal fuels.

An electric economy is an energy-efficient economy — electricity results in fewer byproducts that need to be stored or disposed of. It costs less and generates smaller amounts of pollution.

Current transportation systems are rife with problems that can lead to global warming, environmental degradation, health implications, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indeed, traditional modes of transportation that depend on fossil fuels contributed to 27% of overall GHG emissions in 2017, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ZEV Conversions Already Underway in Key US Sites

In 2017, 30 US cities — including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — informed automakers of their intentions to buy 114,000 electric cars and trucks, worth more than $10 billion. The initiative, led by The Climate Mayors, was designed to show manufacturers the potential size of the EV market in the US.

The State of California owns and operates a fleet of over 20,000 light-duty passenger vehicles, for which it has set aggressive ZEV purchasing goals. Not only has the state fleet exceeded each annual light-duty ZEV purchasing target to date, it is also on track to meet the state’s ZEV target of 50% of new light-duty purchases by 2030 (Note: this figure doesn’t take into account vehicles with special performance requirements necessary to maintain public safety).

New York City has 30,000 owned and leased vehicles, making it the largest municipal fleet in the US. As of July 2018, New York has 1500 electric vehicles in its fleet, putting it far ahead of schedule to meet the goal of having 2000 electric vehicles by 2025, as outlined in the “NYC Clean Fleet” report. The fleet is currently served by 500 level 2 chargers, 37 of which are entirely solar powered.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a Model Y as well as a Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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