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Blue EV Buses Charging
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Electric Vehicles

Call to action:

Power all vehicles with electricity from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels.

Electric vehicles have reached a tipping point toward widespread adoption—and not a moment too soon. Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have more than doubled since 1970, with around 80 percent of that increase attributed to petroleum-powered road vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses. Today, such vehicles account for roughly 16 percent of total emissions worldwide, prompting governments, companies, and car owners to accelerate the shift to electric transport. EV technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade, making incredible strides in range, charging time, and affordability. Now comes the next horizon: creating extensive charging infrastructure, cleaning up electrical grids, sourcing batteries more sustainably, and ensuring equitable access for all.

Action Items

Individuals

Know the facts. The number of EVs on the road globally has skyrocketed in the last decade—over 10 million as of 2020 compared to just seven thousand in 2010. Still, even countries that lead in EV sales are far from widespread adoption. One major barrier is a knowledge gap around EV basics. Here’s what you need to know:

Choose electric public transit when possible. While driving an EV can emit far less greenhouse gas than an ICE vehicle, it may emit more per passenger than a high-occupancy public transit EV like an electric bus. If it’s available in your area and meets your needs, prioritizing electric public transit when you’re not able to bike or walk is the most effective way to reduce your transportation-related carbon emissions. Learn more about efficient transportation solutions beyond EVs in Urban Mobility, Micromobility, and Fifteen-Minute City.

Take a test-drive. Research shows that getting behind the wheel of an EV helps drivers overcome hesitation around adopting unfamiliar technology. Test-drives aren’t just for people planning to buy an EV; they’re a way for any licensed driver to get acquainted with the future of transportation. Here are a few ways to take a test drive:

Join an electric-car-sharing service. You don’t need to own an EV to start driving one. Electric-car-sharing services offer the option to rent an EV by the minute, hour, or day so you can pay for it only when you need it. These services are significantly more affordable than purchasing an EV, opening the door for many more drivers to access personal electric transport. One shared car can replace more than four privately owned vehicles—helping reduce the total number of cars on the road.

If you must own a car, upgrade to electric. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road, no matter how they’re powered, would go furthest in reducing emissions. But for those living in rural and suburban areas or places with limited public transit, owning a car may be the only option.

Call for action from your government. Governments play a critical role in passing policies that make EVs more affordable, easier to charge, and more accessible to all. Governments are also instrumental in ensuring the electrical grid itself is powered by renewable sources. As their constituent, you have a critical role to play, too: letting leaders know EVs are a priority.

  • Elect leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to curbing climate change. If you’re in the U.S., this endorsement guide and scorecard can help you find out where your candidates stand.
  • Vote for policies that promote EV adoption both for individual consumers and across public transit systems, with a focus on increasing equitable access. See the Governance section below for examples of what those policies can look like.
  • When it’s time for your representative to vote on a policy that advances EVs, call and ask them to vote yes. This tool can help you find contact information.

Share your experience. Peer influence has a bigger impact on clean-energy adoption than advertising, experts, or reviews. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors, take them with you for test-drives, and post about your EV experience on social media channels.

Groups

Professional Drivers

Encourage your employer to go electric. When ride-share drivers go electric, their carbon emissions savings are three to four times greater than an average car owner’s. EVs have also been shown to offer better performance and cheaper maintenance, even for short-distance commercial trucking.

City Officials

Electrify public bus fleets. City buses are exceptionally well-positioned to go electric: they travel within a small, established route and have the heft to carry large battery packs. Plus, e-buses are cheaper to operate, cutting the annual operating cost of a diesel model in half.

Companies

Automakers

Phase out petroleum-powered vehicles. Introducing an electric model and announcing a net-zero carbon emissions goal is a first step, but automakers can go much further. Take real action to phase out production of all ICE vehicles and invest in EV innovation.

  • U.S. automaker General Motors, parent company of brands like Chevy, Cadillac, and GMC, will stop producing ICE vehicles by 2035 and introduce 30 new EVs.
  • UK-based Bentley has committed to producing all electric vehicles by 2030, joining companies like Tesla and Lucid in the luxury EV market.
  • Swedish carmaker Volvo pledged to make only electric vehicles by 2030, starting by introducing battery-powered versions of its existing models.
  • Japanese carmaker Toyota will stop producing combustion engines by 2040, beginning with adding 70 electrified models (including hybrids) by 2025.

Power production facilities with renewable energy. The manufacturing process accounts for a large portion of electric vehicles’ carbon emissions. Automakers can reduce the impact of production by powering facilities with renewable energy.

Reallocate advertising dollars for EV education. Despite splashy Super Bowl ads announcing broad EV commitments, just 0.3 percent of the $8.6 billion the auto industry spent on local and national advertising in 2019 promoted electric models. Companies can do more to accelerate EV adoption by redirecting funds to run EV ads year-round across diverse markets that speak to features and incentives.

Advocate for cleaning up energy grids. Companies add their voice—and their own data—to the urgent call for renewable power grids to make sure their EVs can deliver the greatest emissions reductions.

  • Swedish automaker Volvo released a report calling for a faster transition toward a fully renewable electric grid globally, pointing to the finding that their own EV’s lifetime carbon emissions doubled when charged on a grid with the average global energy mix.

Ensure chargers are universal. With many automakers building charging stations exclusively available to their own vehicles, concerns are mounting about a confusing patchwork of chargers that only some cars can use. Automakers can help make future chargers universal from the start.

Move toward a more circular production model. Circular-economy approaches such as building vehicles with renewable materials could help the automotive industry reduce the life-cycle carbon emissions per passenger kilometer by up to 75 percent by 2030. For EVs, a crucial piece of the circularity puzzle lies in how batteries are sourced and recycled.

Ride-share and Delivery App Companies

Help gig drivers go electric. Since ride-share and delivery workers log more miles than the average driver, their carbon footprint is bigger—and that adds up for the company they work for. Support your drivers in going electric to help reach company-wide emissions reduction goals.

Embrace a company fleet model. Ride-share startups are disrupting existing business models by hiring full-time employees rather than gig workers and investing in fleets of company-owned cars—positioning them to roll out electric fleets more quickly than incentivizing individual drivers.

  • Revel’s all-Tesla, all-electric fleet is staffed by professional employee drivers.
  • Kaptyn offers rides in professionally-driven EVs that arrive equipped with complimentary reusable water bottles.

All Companies

Incentivize EV adoption for employees. Provide on-site charging in office parking lots, flex spending accounts for EV car-sharing or lease payments, and company-sponsored test-drive events.

Governance

Reduce taxes on EVs, and raise them on ICE vehicles. Introducing financial incentives at the legislative level can help push both automakers and consumers toward faster EV adoption.

Require automakers to phase out ICE vehicles. Mandates are another effective way to “turn off the tap” on new ICE vehicles and drive innovation around EVs.

  • China has shifted from subsidies to a mandate that requires a steadily increasing percentage of vehicles sold by manufacturers each year to be battery powered. The Chinese auto industry is now making a play to overtake American, European, and Japanese carmakers with their electric models.
  • In France, all car ads—not just those for EVs—must now include a reference to zero-emissions forms of transportation like walking and biking.

Leverage an executive order to speed up adoption. As the climate crisis worsens, leaders are acting with more urgency to curb emissions.

  • Following the worst fire season in California history, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles in the state to be zero-emissions by 2035.
  • Other states and the U.S. government have since followed suit with executive orders to increase the number of EVs on the road (introduced in North Carolina in 2022) or fully transition to EVs for all government employees (introduced in Washington state in 2021).
  • Japan announced in 2020 that all new vehicles sold must be hybrids or fully electric starting in the mid-2030s.

Offer financial incentives that support equity. Although EV prices are dropping steadily, they’re still not accessible to everyone. This is especially problematic for lower-income households and communities of color, who bear the brunt of transportation-related air pollution but stand to gain the most from the fuel-cost savings and public health benefits of EVs—from reducing asthma attacks to preventing developmental issues for children. Governments can help by offering financial incentives for EVs that are available at the point of sale, rather than tax credits that only benefit the wealthy.

  • The Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program offers a cash rebate for drivers who purchase or lease electric vehicles right at the dealership. Buyers can get up to $2,500 off the sticker price of a new or used vehicle.
  • Clean Cars for America proposes a trade-in program that takes 63 million ICE vehicles off the road by allowing car owners to trade up for an EV.
  • Reference this toolkit for resources on equitable EV policymaking.

Invest in equitable charging infrastructure. Building comprehensive charging infrastructure cannot be left to private actors, whose tendency to install model-exclusive charging stations concentrated in wealthy urban centers has left gaps in charging networks that sideline rural and lower-income communities. Governments can play a unifying role across sectors to create a coordinated plan for build-out that centers equity and justice.

  • This case study from Los Angeles offers an example of what equitable charging infrastructure planning can look like in action.
  • This online mapping tool supports more equitable and impactful distribution of EV charging stations by helping policymakers and local leaders identify the areas that need them most.
  • This presentation explores right-to-charge laws, which help ensure that renters and apartment dwellers can access charging at home.
  • This how-to guide breaks down best practices for building equitable EV infrastructure for charging and beyond, from prioritizing affordable options like electric buses and ride-shares to centering marginalized communities in decision making.

Clean up power grids. EVs are only as clean as the grid that charges them. Governments can lead the way on upgrading energy systems powered by fossil fuels to run entirely on renewable energy sources. See Electrify Everything and Smart Microgrids to learn more.

Reduce the social and environmental impact of EV batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are known as the clean power behind most EVs, but sourcing the batteries has troubling environmental and social impacts in nations where mining for necessary minerals puts delicate ecosystems and human rights in peril.

  • This policy brief offers case studies from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chile (major sources of cobalt and lithium, respectively) along with recommendations for possible trade agreements that address social and environmental risks.
  • A 2020 report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development also recommends development of improved, less damaging mining techniques for high-demand minerals.
  • Governments can also fund research into more sustainable alternatives to power electric vehicles, such as more affordable and efficient sodium-ion batteries.

Electrify public transit vehicles. Electric public transportation offers greater carbon-saving benefits than EVs owned by individual households. They also support better public health, and cleaner, quieter streets. See Urban Mobility to learn more.

  • Watch this webinar on clean and equitable mass transit to apply a justice-centered approach to electrifying public transportation.
  • Consider pairing public transit electrification with reduced capacity for all cars, as Paris has done, to improve quality of life in cities.

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