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Enabling the use of electric vehicles is key to ending climate crisis

On Nov. 10 at the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland (which Rich Killmer attended), six major automakers including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors and Volvo, as well as 30 national governments pledged to work toward phasing out sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 worldwide, and by 2035 in “leading markets.” The goal of the nations of the world for ending the climate crisis is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to keep the global temperature to a 1.5-degree Centigrade increase since the late 19th century, so this move by the car companies contributes significantly.

This announcement was another sign that the days of the internal combustion engine could soon be numbered. Electric vehicles (EV’s) continue to set new global sales records each year, and major car companies have recently begun investing tens of billions of dollars to retool their factories and produce electric vehicles.

there is a difference between waiting and preparing.

Worldwide transportation produces roughly one-fifth of humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions that are responsible for climate change, with a little less than half of that coming from cars and vans. In recent years, governments around the world — including China, the United States and the European Union — have begun heavily subsidizing electric vehicles.

Some of the major automakers that did not sign the agreement are nonetheless investing heavily in electric vehicle technology. Volkswagen has outlined plans to spend tens of billions of dollars to build six battery factories.

During Advent, Jayme Babczak preached a sermon pointing out that there is a difference between waiting and preparing. Waiting is the role of the observer; sitting intently waiting for something to happen. Waiting is passive. We are not making something happen.

Preparing shows action. Preparing is taking steps which we believe will help something happen. The successful athlete prepares by practicing, staying in good shape and participating in games.

How much are we engaged in bringing about change?

The difference between waiting and preparing is a matter of agency. How much are we engaged in bringing about change? Waiting will not get us closer to our desired outcome. The person preparing for a goal does more to bring it about than the person waiting for that event to take place. We can wait for a new playground to be built or we can advocate for the new playground, raise funds to build it, or help design it.

It is clear that the climate crisis requires all of us to prepare for a new reality. Nobody can wait. We have the agency to choose preparation over waiting. That is true for presidents, governors, legislators, administrators and citizens like all of us.

We need to support steps that enable vehicle owners to choose electric powered vehicles, getting us closer to our goals. On Sept. 22, Michigan’s Governor Whitmer announced two new programs that will help Michiganders use the electric vehicles that the automobile companies promised. 

The governor is committed to the Lake Michigan EV Circuit, an electric vehicle route with charging options along Lake Michigan and key tourism clusters, creating a new road-trip for EV owners in America. It will tie together Michigan’s key coastal and rural communities, state and national parks and tourism attractions into a wider EV network by providing EV charging stations where chargers are needed.

Taking steps to encourage and prepare for the use of EV’s should happen now.

Grants will be made to install the charging stations which will be provided through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). "Michigan put the world on wheels. Now we are making those wheels more sustainable, less polluting, and part of the push to decarbonize Michigan's economy,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE Director. "Building muscle onto Michigan's EV charging infrastructure is a cornerstone for moving away from climate pollution."

The second program is The Michigan Revolution for Electrification of Vehicles Academy/Academies (MiREV) which will prepare people to work in the EV industry. MiREV will work directly with employers to make sure that Michigan has the right kind of programs and resources for this task which will help protect our grandchildren from major climate disasters.

There have been many articles asking if COP26 in Glasgow was successful. Our answer to that question is that COP26 will only be seen as successful for the U.S., if towns, cities and states implement plans for reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions and for keeping the global temperature to a 1.5-degree Centigrade increase. Taking steps to encourage and prepare for the use of EV’s should happen now.

To hear Richard talk more about his experiences at COP26 check out this video.

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash


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