Two world cities — Washington, DC and Dundee, Scotland — are moving forward with plans to address climate change with effective local strategies. The plan for the US capitol — proposed by the 5 members of the DC city council — would have the city derive 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032. The officials from the city of Dundee in Scotland visited Oslo recently to learn more about how Norway has become the leader in electric vehicle adoption among all the nations of the world.
100% Renewable In DC
The proposal from the Washington, DC city council is one of the most aggressive in the nation and is a direct challenge to its most prominent resident, the loud mouth buffoon living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only California has a more aggressive renewable energy standard — 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Council member Mary Cheh drafted the bill and heads the council’s committee on transportation and the environment. She tells the Washington Post, “What’s the alternative — to do nothing? We either do our best and encourage others to do their best and the national government to change their position on this, or we give in and accept catastrophe.” That latter option happens to be official US policy at present.
At a hearing on the proposed bill, more than 80 people expressed support for the idea. The Washington, DC area is at risk from rising sea levels and possible flooding from the nearby Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Some speakers agreed with the premise but cautioned that local utility rates need to be taken into consideration. Despite being the nation’s capitol, DC is one of the poorest cities in America.
The bill includes a monthly fee of $2.10 that would be added to utility bill for natural gas customers and $1 for electricity customers. About 20% of the money generated from those fees would be used to provide financial assistance to low income ratepayers while the rest would fund other local sustainability initiatives.
Cheh’s proposal would also tighten the city’s green energy standards in its building code and authorize the mayor to enter regional agreements with Virginia and Maryland to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Good luck with that last part. Virginia’s renewable energy goal, adopted in 2007, calls for a paltry 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Even at that, it is a strictly voluntary goal intended to encourage utilities to switch to renewables.
In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation requiring the state to obtain 25% of its energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2020. The law was vetoed by governor Larry Hogan but his veto was later overridden by the Democratic controlled legislature.
EVs For Dundee
The city of Dundee in Scotland is intent on transitioning to 100% electric vehicles in its city, which is the fourth largest in Scotland. It was recently voted Europe’s most visionary city for its electric vehicles policy by the World Electric Vehicle Association. For help on the subject, city officials traveled to Oslo, Norway, a city renowned for its zero emissions vehicle initiatives.
“The Oslo visit was a catalyst for Dundee’s full commitment to the switch to electric cars,” says Fraser Crichton of the Dundee city council. “The ambition for Dundee is to be a fully e-mobilized city in the year 2032. For ten years now, we have wanted all our city cars and vans will be 100 percent electric,” according to a report by the Norwegian Electric Car Association.
The city’s initiatives have attracted attention from other communities around the world, some from as far away as New Zealand. “We are very proud of what we have received and we are pleased to convey what we learned when we visited Oslo, and that we are already there to help other cities on their way to e-mobility. But we can not take all credit alone, without the support of Scottish authorities, we had not received Dundee’s EV-city project, ” say Crichton.
The policies put in place by the city have jump started the transition to electric vehicles, especially in the city’s taxi fleet. Last year, it decided it would only license new taxis that were electric and buttressed that requirement with economic incentives. “In return, we set up fast-charging stations across the city so they could find a fast-charging device within a mile radius wherever they may be,” says Crichton.
The city’s emphasis on electric cars has driven a change in public attitudes about EVs. It is now common for EV owners to meet up at one of the 35 fast charger locations throughout the city for what are called Chat & Charge sessions. Many of those charging stations are powered by solar energy.
Can local initiatives take the place of national indifference? Washington, DC and Dundee certainly think so. As always, if the people will lead, their leaders will follow. We can only hope there is enough time left for local action to be successful.
Hat tip: Are Hansen