Opinion

Let’s ‘drop kick’ our petroleum habit. The future of cars is electric, and it’s here

Where greenhouse gases come from

Despite problems with its ‘cap and trade’ carbon market, California has made progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the six main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
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Despite problems with its ‘cap and trade’ carbon market, California has made progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the six main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

In the movies, lone heroes and villains change the world all the time. But most Americans understand that in real life, you can’t get big, important things done by going it alone. Sure, as anybody paying attention to Washington these days knows, a loner can grab a lot of attention and cause plenty of short-term chaos. But that doesn’t lead to lasting change, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to a more perfect union or a safer, more prosperous planet.

Consider critical episodes in our nation’s history, from Lincoln’s team of rivals to the Civil Rights Movement to recent criminal justice legislation. In all those cases, people were willing to work with people they didn’t always agree with, and that made progress possible.

That’s why the two of us – a Republican and a Democrat, a former governor of California and the chair of the state’s lead agency for clean air and climate change – are working with Veloz to accelerate adoption of electric cars.

Opinion

Veloz is an unlikely alliance of automakers and other businesses, government agencies and nonprofits. It isn’t an easy or comfortable alliance to be sure. It’s a bit like the extended family Thanksgiving dinners – lots of competing interests and everyone knows what needs to be done, it’s just really difficult sometimes. But humor seems to get us through.

At Veloz, we are launching a campaign to ignite the public imagination and change car buying habits by deploying humor, not fear and division. “Kicking Gas” stars one of us – and it’s not Mary – as a used car salesman on a mission to bring back gas guzzlers (and 1970s mustaches). The off-key interactions with would-be customers provide a fun way to convey the message that electric vehicles are simply better cars – for drivers, for the country and for the planet.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - California State Archives John Decker
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. John Decker California State Archive

Electric cars are better because they reduce pollution. Emissions from road transportation causes

53,000 premature deaths

each year, and transportation is the

United States’ biggest contributor

to greenhouse gases that are changing the climate. Scientists warn that

time is running out

if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Our country is already

feeling the effects

.

Cleaner cars are a drive in the right direction. That’s why, during the Schwarzenegger administration, the two of us worked together to mandate emissions reductions from cars and trucks to help meet California’s and the nation’s first climate pollution cap. We then collaborated with automakers and federal officials to usher in cleaner cars nationwide. This led to a historic moment in the White House Rose Garden when automakers politicians and community leaders gathered to announce a national standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Now, the Trump administration wants to roll back those standards and attack California’s right to clean up our air. We might end up taking separate roads on clean car standards, but California isn’t alone. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia follow California’s standards. Together, we make up just under 40 percent of the U.S. car market, according to the California Air Resources Board.

While ensuring gas cars are cleaner is essential, it’s not enough. Fully facing up to the climate crisis requires we dropkick the petroleum habit. Cars must go electric, and they must do it now.

Mary_Nichols.jpg

Fortunately, that’s the direction the market is already heading. Sales are up, investment dollars are up, patents are up. Plug in and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are seen as the greatest economic opportunity since the debut of the smart phone. In Europe, electric car sales are 70 percent higher this year than last. In California, electric cars are 10 percent of all new vehicle sales. Battery costs keep falling, range keeps increasing and automakers are launching hundreds of new models. We are speeding toward a future in which transportation will be electric.

Even so, we are not moving fast enough. One of the biggest problems is that consumers don’t know much about electric cars. Automakers are beginning to advertise, but while they know electric transportation is their future, no single automaker wants to invest big bucks in a marketing campaign that detracts from their more profitable gas guzzlers.

That’s where “Kicking Gas” comes in. Check out www.ElectricForAll.org to see the world’s worst used-car salesman try to unload gas guzzlers, learn more about electric cars and consider a future where you never have to stop at a gas station again. This bold, funny and provocative video campaign is like electric cars themselves: just what we need right now.

Together we made car history before, and we plan to do it again. The future of transportation is electric, and the future is now.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the former governor of California. Mary Nichols is the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

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