Want an electric vehicle? Here’s why it can be so hard to get one

How Los Angeles plans to get hundreds of thousands of people out of cars

The city has a new road map to drastically cut emissions by 2028. The key: finding alternatives to private cars.

[Photo: Flickr user Jonathan Riley]

L.A. has a reputation as a car-dependent city. But the city also now has the country’s most ambitious plan for cutting emissions from transportation. In less than a decade, it wants the majority of new cars to be electric and all city buses to be electric—and it wants 20% of trips that currently happen in single-occupancy cars to shift to public transportation or active transportation like biking.

Today, a set of partners released the Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0, a plan that outlines how the region can drastically cut transit emissions by 2028 to address both climate change and the health impacts of smog. Convincing Angelenos to drive less is a key part of the plan.

“In the modeling, we looked extensively at different scenarios for the number of electric cars and zero-emission trucks that would need to be on the road, and chargers to serve those vehicles,” says Matt Petersen, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, which convened a group of partners last year to set initial targets, now spelled out in more detail. “And we recognize that one of the key ways we’re going to achieve the reduction goal for greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution is mode shift: How do we get people out of their cars into public transit or active transit?”

[Photo: egdigital/iStock]

If they do drive, the city wants them using electric vehicles. To help make the shift easier, the city, county, and other partners plan to blanket the area in 84,000 public and workplace charging stations and add chargers where they’re particularly critical, like at apartment buildings. It will also use incentives to help consumers, especially low-income drivers, afford electric cars. By 2028, 30% of cars on the road will be electric, and 80% of new cars sold will be electric. Larger trucks will also move to electric power, a major road from the port will become the first “zero-emissions goods movement corridor” in the country, and the city will test zero-emissions delivery zones for packages. But to stay on track to cut emissions, the biggest change the city will have to manage is making it easier not to drive at all.

Part of that means improving public transportation, both in the routes that are available and the quality of the experience. The shift to electric buses—which are quieter than rattling diesel or natural gas buses, and often come with amenities such as Wi-Fi and charging—can help. “Those are the kinds of things that are going to make discretionary riders more interested and eager and willing to get out of their cars,” says Petersen.

Expanding micromobility can also help; a recent report in Santa Monica found that 49% of the trips that people were taking on electric scooters and shared bikes were replacing short trips that otherwise would have happened in cars. Some projects now are working to expand access to micromobility in neighborhoods that don’t have many options. Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, for example, is running a pilot with a nonprofit building a solar-powered e-bike share project in the community of Huntington Park. (Other pilot projects are expanding access to electric car sharing in low-income neighborhoods; if residents use that option instead of owning cars themselves, they also may be likely to drive less.) Designing streets to make it safer to ride a bike—such as a two-way protected bike lane that was installed in downtown L.A. earlier this year—is also a key part of helping people shift away from cars. MORE


Yes, electric vehicles really are better than fossil fuel burners

Todd Smith, Let the tourists know that we are not as stupid as they think we are

Holding the provincial government accountable, Jen Ackerman suggests a solid plan to do some good for the planet and our future in Prince Edward County. Have you written your letter?

Image result for hedgerows edward county
For 200 years, Prince Edward County has been an agricultural community protected from industrial and urban development. Photo: Court Noxon

Mr. Smith,

Last week the County declared a climate emergency, like many other cities and Counties throughout Ontario. What do you suppose would be a good start to proving that we, the residents of the County, actually care about climate change and the fate of the planet? Will you and Mr, Ford simply brush it off and turn a blind eye to the fact that we are strongly pushing to have changes made?

We are telling you loud and clear that we do not want to see any more slashes and devastating decisions that favour only rich developers and not the environment.

Do you have a solid plan to do some good for the planet and our future, or are you going to continue with the wrecking ball theme that you have so clearly been using ?

Some suggestions for you to act on in order to work with the County residents that strongly spoke up for the Climate Emergency Declaration are,

First, let the White Pines Wind Farm start creating clean green energy, since they are standing idle and doing no good for anyone.

Let the tourists know that we in the County are not as stupid as they think we are. Many dozens of tourists have come into my shop, in total disbelief that a government could do such a wasteful , backwards move , as to cancel this project. When I tell them the whole story, they get quite angry at you and Mr. Ford for doing more harm to our already suffering planet.

These visible symbols of hope, standing so gracefully,for all to see,need to be working, as part of our action to try to reverse the effects of climate change.

That is why the County has declared an emergency, because there is one, and it is getting more obvious each and every day.

While our beneficial wind project is being completed (which will only take a few weeks ) and the turbines are getting ready to spin, we need to focus on plastic use, and pushing people to stop the careless and unnecessary use of one time use plastics.

Image result for plastic shopping bagsGrocery stores need to do away with plastic bags, plastic packaging and plastic products such as straws, so consumers get in the habit of using reusable bags and containers.

Another idea is to put the rebate back in place for electric car buyers, so that more people will stop using gas guzzling vehicles and go clean.

Image result for trees prince edward county

Another thought is to start replacing each tree taken down by the County along roadsides, with two new ones. Better yet, stop killing all the trees, when they are mainly sugar maples with no health issues. Get someone from Trees for Life because they know trees and are best to asses the health/safety of these trees.

As well as that the clearing of hedge rows must be stopped. Farmers always left them for a reason, now money and greed once again rule and killing the habitat and occupants of the hedgerows has become another reckless and nearsited decision.

Another suggestion to show the County recognizes that we are in a climate emergency,is to stop clear cutting for housing developments, build on non agricultural and non forested/ water habitat areas.

Stop putting money ahead of the health and the well being of all who are living here,

The suggestions are many, but it takes action to put the ideas into motion.So , Mr. Smith and all other politicians, what is YOUR plan to help with this emergency ?

Jen Ackerman Milford

Canada needs a Green New Deal


Illustration by Left Voice

…Today, Canadian politicians still pander to large corporations instead of pursuing meaningful industrial policy. Trudeau’s Liberals imagine that they have managed to negotiate the binary between economy and environment but that binary only exists because they continue in their well-trod rut. They are putting off the transition from the inevitable end of fossil fuel extraction, letting the manufacturing sector erode rather than retool, and are foreclosing public sector expansions that could be leading the way to a new economy.

Is this the model of industrial development that Canada should follow into the 21st century?

The alternative for Canada is a Green New Deal, a program of economic and social transformation commensurate to the twin crises of inequality and climate change facing the country.

It is a cruel joke that investment in a pipeline – ultimately a relatively small sum – is a major policy move, while other far larger, far more necessary investments are not being made on the scale required. Imagine energy workers in Alberta’s north setting up wind farms rather than mining bitumen. Imagine manufacturing workers in southwest Ontario mass producing new electric public transit vehicles. Both would be integral to a Green New Deal; both prioritize people over profit.

Beyond energy and transport, imagine investments in universal child care (and the good, green child-care jobs they create), in truly affordable, dense public housing, and in public pharmaceutical companies that build on the public funds already going into basic research. A just transition should not just foster new technology, it should redistribute social power and increase living standards for the many – these are the common interests between nurses and autoworkers, and energy workers and early childhood educators.

…a Green New Deal could greatly expand the scope of collective decision making – heralding democratic planning and marshalling of social resources on a large scale. With every passing year and with every new decision to support fossil fuel infrastructure and corporate restructuring in the name of profit, the scale of the alternative plan to counter these actions needs to become more ambitious and far-reaching. A Green New Deal can put workers and the environment at the centre of economic policy and ensure that the necessary transformation reaches all areas of people’s lives. Unlike pipelines and plant closures, an expansive, just transition could unite workers and communities all over Canada in a broad common task. MORE


Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal

Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming

“Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2050.”

There is one atmosphere. Cutting emissions must be an overriding Canadian priority as well, are achievable with known technologies, and result in improvements in people’s lives.

The UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change

Image result for global warming

The Committee’s report, requested by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments in light of the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s Special Report in 2018, finds that:

  • The foundations are in place throughout the UK and the policies required to deliver key pillars of a net-zero economy are already active or in development. These include: a supply of low-carbon electricity (which will need to quadruple by 2050), efficient buildings and low-carbon heating (required throughout the UK’s building stock), electric vehicles (which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier), developing low-carbon electricity and low-carbon hydrogen (which are a necessity not an option), stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, increasing tree planting, and measures to reduce emissions on farms. However, these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
  • Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2050. The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed. Serious plans are needed to clean up the UK’s heating systems, to deliver the infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology and to drive transformational change in how we use our land.
  • The overall costs of the transition to a net-zero economy are manageable but they must be fairly distributed. Rapid cost reductions in essential technologies such as offshore wind and batteries for electric vehicles mean that a net-zero greenhouse gas target can be met at an annual cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050. However, the costs of the transition must be fair, and must be perceived as such by workers and energy bill payers. The Committee recommends that the Treasury reviews how the remaining costs of achieving net- zero can be managed in a fair way for consumers and businesses.

There are multiple benefits of the transition to a zero-carbon economy, the Committee’s report shows. These include benefits to people’s health from better air quality, less noise thanks to quieter vehicles, more active travel thanks to increased rates of cycling and walking, healthier diets, and increased recreational benefits from changes to land use. MORE

100% Clean Energy & Cars In 20 Years Is Viable (But Unlikely)

Image result for wind farm china
Wind farm in Xinjiang, China

The two biggest hitters causing global warming are electrical
generation using fossil fuels and transportation using fossil fuels. If we made all electricity carbon neutral, most of which would come from wind and solar generation, that would be about a third of the problem. If we made all vehicles run off of carbon-neutral electricity (or biofuels where electricity just won’t cut it, an increasingly small niche), that would deal with another third of the problem or so.

This action would have a huge impact on global warming targets. Could we do it in 20 years globally in a crash plan? Let’s start with what it looks like today, or at least in 2016 per the IEA. Globally, we generated about 25,000 TWH of electricity (reminder on units: KWH, MWH, GWH then TWH, each 1000 of the previous unit).

Could we replace 16,250 TWH of electrical generation with wind and solar in 20 years? Well, it’s not actually that hard to generate a TWH of electricity.

A single 2.5 MWH wind turbine running for a year with a mediocre capacity factor of 35% will generate 7,665 MWH. To get a TWH, you’d need 130 of them, a reasonably sized wind farm of 325 MW capacity. For context, the Gansu Wind Farm in China is already at 8,000 MW capacity and is expected to reach 20,000 MW capacity by 2020, 60 times larger.

A solar farm is a bit different and has a typically lower capacity factor. Let’s go with a middling 20%. To get a TWH you’d need a solar farm with a capacity of around 570 MW. For context, a couple of solar farms in India are 1,000 MW and 2,000 MW capacity 2-4 times the capacity. MORE

Why Electric Vehicles Are Great Winter Cars

The reality is, electric vehicles are great winter cars.

Winter is not the easiest season for getting around. Electric cars, like cars with internal combustion engines, function less efficiently in the cold. But while we accept and ignore the limitations of traditional vehicles, reports from groups like AAA misrepresent cold weather concerns about electric vehicles, fueling anxiety about vehicle range.

Cold weather range is becoming less of an issue with the rapid advancement of battery technologies.  Every year, electric vehicle ranges get longer.

Take my family’s experience as an example. Our first 2012 Nissan LEAF had only 73 miles of driving range. This year the same vehicle has a battery that offers a 151-mile range and in a couple of months you will be able to get a LEAF with an even bigger battery and a range of well over 200 miles. So, range is becoming less of an issue and truthfully we never had any issues with it. My wife has a 35-mile round trip commute so she could manage it even with the 2012 LEAF, but nowadays with longer range electric vehicles, things are really easy. Battery electric vehicles available in Minnesota this year have ranges between 151 to 335 miles and people who want even more flexibility in their daily driving range should choose one of the plug-in hybrids that can take you up to 640 miles. See all plug-in EV models available in Minnesota here. 

Many reasons to love electric vehicles in the winter

The best part of electric vehicles for me in the wintertime is the fast heating system. Many electric cars have a heat pump heating system that works like the traditional AC, but in reverse. This system is incredibly fast in heating up the car. I tried it the first time with our 2016 Nissan LEAF. It was a typical 16 degree Minnesota winter day. I went into our cold garage and reversed the car outside to the alley. While I waited for the garage door to close I wondered why the automatic fan was already running and to my surprise it was already pushing lukewarm air from the heating ducts. I drove less than a block and the air coming out was already hot. I had never experienced this kind of heating performance from any car before. MORE

Norway’s electric cars zip to new record: almost a third of all sales

In a bid to cut emissions, Norway exempts battery-driven cars from most taxes and offers free parking and charging points

Image result for Electric cars are parked in Oslo, Norway January 1, 2019

Electric cars are parked in Oslo, Norway January 1, 2019. Picture taken January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

The independent Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said on Wednesday that electric cars rose to 31.2 percent of all sales last year, from 20.8 percent in 2017 and just 5.5 percent in 2013, while sales of petrol and diesel cars plunged.

“It was a small step closer to the 2025 goal,” by which time Norway’s parliament wants all new cars to be emissions-free, Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen, head of the NRF, told a conference.

Still, he cautioned that there was a long way to go since two-thirds of almost 148,000 cars sold in 2018 in Norway were powered by fossil fuel or were hybrids, which have both battery power and an internal combustion engine.  MORE  See graphic Electric Cars in Norway

Oslo starts 2019 as Europe’s eco capital

The Norwegian capital plans to cut emissions by 95 percent by 2030, despite being one of Europe’s fastest growing cities. As European Green Capital 2019, it hopes to set an example for others.

Oslo - Stadtzentrum mit Tram (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/G. Yaari)

Oslo’s waterfront was once a mass of shipping containers and a vast intersection jammed with cars pumping out fumes.

Today, traffic is diverted through an underwater tunnel, and much of it is made up of electric or hybrid cars. Above, the scene is becoming dominated by a new Edvard Munch art museum and central library — both due to open in 2020.

The new development has impressive environmental as well as cultural credentials, with all new buildings meeting energy efficiency standards for low energy use, explains Anita Lindahl Trosdahl, project manager for Oslo’s Green Capital year. MORE