By The Co-Executive Directors of Coltura, Matthew Metz and Janelle London of Coltura.
Coltura is a Seattle-based nonprofit whose mission is to improve climate, health, and equity by accelerating the switch from gasoline and diesel to cleaner alternatives. Coltura’s vision is of a gasoline-free America by 2040 or sooner.
World Leaders: Phase Out Sales of New Gas Cars by 2030
Code Red, 11th hour, an existential threat. Whatever name is given to the gathering climate storm, it’s time for real action. COP26, the global climate summit underway in Scotland, may be one of the last chances for world leaders to collectively make the cuts in carbon emissions necessary to preserve a habitable planet.
Global leaders can do something at COP26 that would not just protect the environment but also improve air quality in the millions of communities plagued with toxic tailpipe emissions: commit to phasing out sales of new gas- and diesel-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs by 2030.
We have the technology to shift to electric-powered vehicles and improve our mobility, climate, and health. Electric vehicles are already excellent alternatives to gas vehicles and quickly getting better. Sending a clear message that all new cars must be EVs by 2030 will provide the certainty that markets need to act. It will allow automakers, utilities, charging companies, property owners, investors, developers, and governments at all levels to plan for the transition beginning now.
Committing now to require all new cars to be EVs by 2030 has other benefits. Consumers will save a lot of money on fuel and maintenance, and the price of electric cars is expected to fall below that of gas cars in the next three to five years. And if all automakers are required to sell only EVs starting in 2030, they’ll have to compete to sell them at the price points and with the models people want. EVs will no longer be “electric cars,” but simply “cars.”
Big oil will falsely claim that electricity is dirtier than gasoline because some electricity is still made by burning fossil fuels. But in all but a few countries heavily dependent upon coal, the current electricity mix is cleaner than gasoline. And it’s only getting cleaner. Renewable sources like solar and wind are rapidly scaling and are expected to provide the bulk of many nations’ power by 2030.
The real question is whether, cradle to grave, EVs create less carbon pollution than gas-powered cars. Even in countries producing electricity from coal, the answer is clear. On lifetime carbon emissions, EVs win over cars that burn gasoline, spewing 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for every gallon burned.
Moreover, electric cars and EV batteries are less taxing on the environment and our natural resources than gas cars operating on oil that must be found, extracted, transported, spilled, refined into gasoline, transported again, spilled again, stored in underground storage tanks (half of which leak), and then burned in our cars, leaving a trail of toxic tailpipe exhaust. EVs also eliminate air pollution and water pollution, providing the biggest benefits to disadvantaged communities and communities of color.
Burning gasoline to power our vehicles is incompatible with human life on earth. Moving beyond gasoline gives us a hope of restoring a habitable planet, with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. World leaders must commit to moving beyond gasoline by 2030 and start planning for it now.
Matthew Metz, based in Seattle, and Janelle London, based in Menlo Park, California, are co-executive directors of Coltura, a nonprofit working to improve climate, health, and equity by accelerating the transition from gasoline and diesel to cleaner alternatives.