To protect frontline and rural communities, we need to electrify
The world’s leading climatologists have just published a report warning that time is running out to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Drought, wildfires, torrential rains, heat waves and other extreme weather events are hitting communities from California to New York, wreaking havoc in our cities, rural communities and everywhere in between. Frontline communities – those first and most affected by climate change – are made up of black and brown majority populations and are much more likely to be affected by these extreme weather events due to generations of institutional inequities. and divestment. These are UNnatural disasters and, if recent history serves as a guide, this is just the beginning.
Congress must adopt an infrastructure package that makes significant investments to tackle the climate crisis, including drastically reducing pollution, creating jobs and, most importantly, tackling environmental injustices. To decarbonize, we will need to rewire many aspects of our economy, our transportation system and our infrastructure. In other words: to save America, we must electrify.
As the Environmental Protection Agency notes, our transportation sector has become the the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Cars, trucks and buses that burn fossil fuels also contribute significantly to local air pollution, such as ozone and particulate matter, causing damaging health problems. Underserved communities are disproportionately vulnerable to these impacts and have borne the brunt of climate change induced by transport emissions, making equity an urgent factor in the electrification of the transport sector and the shift to a sustainable economy. clean energy.
The International Council for Clean Transport (ICCT) recently published a report analyze the life cycle GHG emissions of combustion engine cars and electric passenger cars – and the results are clear: only battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) powered by of renewable electricity can achieve the kind of significant reductions in GHG emissions from transportation to keep global warming below 2 ° C, or about 3.6 ° F.
Fairly decarbonizing the transportation sector must be a top priority for Congress as it strives to embrace the President’s Build Back Better agenda. This should be done in a holistic way, encouraging multimodal mobility systems, from public transport and carpooling solutions to personal vehicles and micro-mobility options. We need to establish used electric vehicle (EV) credits and new purchasing incentives, and ensure the availability of EV infrastructure to improve access for low and moderate income consumers. In addition, fill gaps in the supply chains of essential clean technologies, i.e. electric vehicles and battery cells, through investment and production tax credits focused on historically excluded black and brown communities will ensure quality, well-paying jobs.
If we are not intentional in our actions, the communities that have the most to gain from an electrified transport sector will also be among the last and least to benefit from it, which leaves us all behind and perpetuates a pattern of “Privileged mobility,” in which where you live determines your ability to access innovative and clean mobility options.
Legislation, such as Electric Vehicles Act for Underserved Communities, ensures all Americans benefit from the future of clean vehicles by calling on the Department of Energy to support the creation of 200,000 electric vehicle charging stations in under-represented communities over the next decade. Organizations like EVHybridBlack are at the forefront of this effort to ensure that transportation solutions are inclusive and equitable.
Congress leaders must act now to address research and development needs, buying incentives, publicly accessible charging infrastructure, workplace charging, and incentives to expand electric vehicle manufacturing and national supply chains. The right policies will put the United States in the “driver’s seat” to build and advance our nation’s electric transportation future.
We have an opportunity, now, to decarbonize, electrify, and save America. If we do not tackle transportation electrification boldly, swiftly and fairly, we face a certain future of increasingly severe climate disasters, exacerbated disparities and economic devastation that spill over from coast to coast. the other.
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke represents New York City’s 9th Borough. Terry Travis is co-founder and director of EVHybridNoire, the largest national network of electric vehicle (EV) drivers and enthusiasts, whose mission is to advance electric vehicles and multimodal electric mobility solutions (e.g. electric cars , electric buses, electric bikes, scooters) across the United States and ensure that these solutions are inclusive and equitable.