There is no question: California is the home of the electric vehicle. Over half of all electric vehicles in the United States are registered in the Golden State. In addition to the Federal tax credit, the state offers multiple incentives to help get more clean cars and trucks on the road. Transit agencies and schools are increasing the number of electric buses in their fleets. Utilities, businesses and local governments are partnering together to deploy charging and fueling infrastructure at home, work and in public spaces.
Among the most exciting developments, however, is Governor Brown’s recent Executive Order making it California’s goal to have 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. This Executive Order, which was included as part of the roll out for the Governor’s climate investment spending plan, further cements California’s role as an global environmental leader and innovator in making electric vehicles accessible to all. Though having 5 million electric cars is a very ambitious high bar, the Governor’s Executive Order and climate investment plan helps lay the groundwork to make this goal a reality. But more can and must be done.
Getting Electric Vehicles in the Fast Lane
Electrifying California’s cars and trucks is long overdue. As noted in the Governor’s Executive Order, transportation is responsible for half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 80% of the state’s smog-forming pollutants. This includes pollution from the vehicles themselves, as well as emissions from oil refineries which produce fuel. Though conventional vehicles have become more fuel efficient and less polluting, much of these gains have been negated as people are driving more due to the economy and relatively low cost of gasoline (though, you may have noticed gas prices are going up).
The emissions from transportation present enormous problems for California. The state is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This is to reduce California’s contribution to climate change. However, these goals are simply unreachable if we don’t slash emissions from vehicles. Additionally, by degrading air quality, vehicle emissions present a public health threat. In 2013, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that more people die from exposure to vehicle emissions than from car accidents. Similarly, the American Lung Association found that gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles cost California $15 billion in health and climate related expenses in 2015. With these enormous health and economic impacts, it’s clear we need to pump the brakes on oil.
California’s Destination is Ahead
California has a lot of work ahead if it wants to deploy 5 million electric vehicles. Currently, California has over 350,000 electric vehicles on the road. In order to have 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025, EV sales will need to grow 20% every year until 2025. Though consumers are increasingly adopting electric vehicles, the state must take an active role in boosting the EV market. Fortunately, the Governor recognizes this, and his Executive Order and proposed spending plan for climate investments rises to the challenge. Specifically, the Governor is proposing to add millions of dollars into charging and fueling infrastructure, the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and successful scrap-and-replace programs like Clean Cars 4 All and Replace Your Ride. Additionally, the Governor’s Executive Order directs state agencies to work with regional and local governments streamline the permit requirements of charging and fueling infrastructure.
These are all solid steps in making the goal of 5 million electric vehicles a reality. However, there are other actions California can make to meet this ambitious goal. These include:
- Expanding scrap-and-replace programs like Clean Cars 4 All and Replace Your Ride to areas like the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego and other parts of California.
- Creating effective one-stop-shop programs which will not just connect consumers with electric car incentives, but also incentives for things like rooftop solar and weatherization.
- Supporting electric car ridesharing programs like BlueCar LA, as well maintaining funding for clean heavy duty vehicle incentives rather than cutting them as the Governor has proposed.
However, perhaps one of the most important steps California can take is to transform our freight vehicle fleet. Trucks, trains and other big vehicles emit tons of greenhouse gases, as well as diesel particulate matter and other forms of pollution that have significant health impacts. Despite this, Governor Brown’s plan only provides $160 million to clean up these vehicles – half of what he budgeted for last year. You can also join the fight to transform California’s heavy duty vehicle fleet by asking California’s leaders to preserve $320 million in incentives for clean trucks and buses.
Sign Our Clean Freight Petition!
Make your voice heard! Add your name below to tell Governor Brown he needs to increase funding for clean freight. We need nothing less than 5 million zero emission cars, buses and trucks on California’s roads to help meet our state’s clean air and climate change goals.
Dear Governor Brown,
Yes! As a Californian, I want more zero emission vehicles (ZEVS) on the road and support strong policies, like the goal of 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Not only do we need clean cars, however; we need more funding for clean freight vehicles. By accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, we can clean up our air and improve public health, especially in our most polluted communities; reduce global warming pollution; save Californians money at the pump; and stimulate economic growth.