Berkeley, CA

California’s current investment into decarbonization is not enough to meet goals says Berkeley Professor

Robert J Hansen

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Electric vehicle charging in parking garage at Sacramento State in 2018Robert J Hansen

Sacramento, Calif. -- By Robert J Hansen

Berkeley Professor Danilel Kammen is an expert in renewable energy, Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment and Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center.

California is not investing to match the its goal of full decarbonization by 2045 according to Kammen

Kammen said he is most focused on SB 582, a bill that if passed would require 80 percent decarbonization by 2030, doubling the current goal of 40 percent. 

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Berkeley Professor Daniel KAMMEN speaks about expanding the ownership of electric vehicles in California on May 24, 2021Robert J Hansen

To meet that goal, “Transportation will have to play a leading role,” Kammen said.

EV’s only make up five percent of all cars owned in California and the pace of new ownership is not ramping up fast enough to meet the State’s decarbonization goals according to Kammen.

Last September, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring every new car and light-duty truck sold in California be fully electric and zero emission by 2035

“Every car that gets sold today is a step in the wrong direction,” Kammen said. “California is not investing to match the decarbonization goals it has set for itself.”

Kammen said he wants to know if the State and the private sector can step up and make investments that are needed to reach these goals. 

Since 2016, the year Tesla’s Model 3 was introduced, roughly 675,000 thousand EV’s have been sold in California according to data from the California Air Resource Board (CARB).  

CARB is the state’s lead agency for climate change and oversees all air pollution control efforts in California. 

CARB is working to meet Newsom’s executive order by getting 5 million zero emission vehicles (EV) on California roads by 2030. As of September 2020, 763,816 car and light duty truck EVs.

According to CARB, medium and heavy duty trucks are the largest source of vehicle pollution while comprising 2 million of the 30 million vehicles in California.

Last month the California Air Resources Board (CARB) agreed to require ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber have 90 percent of the miles driven in California be in electric vehicles (EV) by 2030. 

Lyft and Uber are required to begin phasing to EVs by 2023.

Uber and Lyft are pledging to help their drivers switch to green vehicles. Uber drivers who buy electric cars, for instance, can earn an extra $1 per trip. Lyft drivers can rent electric vehicles.

The companies also claimed that the air board has imposed a difficult mandate, especially given the high cost of electric vehicles.

Lyft driver Myesha Douglas said Lyft has not promoted or discussed EV options.

“I have been driving with Lyft for four years and they have never said anything about electric vehicles,” Douglas said. “And I want to buy a Tesla.”

In a letter to the air board, Lyft’s senior manager for sustainability said the requirements could economically harm low- and moderate-income drivers. 

Paul Augustien added that California is making a mistake with its “singular focus” on ride-hailing vehicles, given that they represent “only 1.2% of total vehicle-miles traveled” in California.

Senator Henry Stern said California has a long way to go in achieving the state’s goal of five million EVs by 2030.

He has authored legislation that aims to ramp up EV sales and ownership to reach the goals California has set for itself.

SB 551 would create a California Electric Vehicle Authority within the Governor’s office that would coordinate activities among state agencies to advance electric vehicle and zero-emission charging infrastructure deployment.

The bill is currently still working through the necessary committee procedures in the state legislature.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento, CA
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