By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
Despite Trump having pulled the US out of the Paris Climate accord, there is reason to think that the US will nevertheless meet its obligations to reduce deadly carbon dioxide emissions. Although Trump is blowing up the Environmental Protection Agency the way a terrorist would blow up a building, the Federal government is not the only game in town.
California, with 40 million people, has 12.5 percent of the US population and a gross domestic product of $2.46 trillion (equivalent to the sixth wealthiest country in the world). And California wants to go green. As a result of government incentives, it is attractive to buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid in this state. As a result, 5% of new car sales in the first quarter of this year were EVs or plug-in hybrids! Half of all the electric vehicles in the US are registered in California. The state has a serious air pollution problem, and 38% of its greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. That sector, moreover, is growing in its environmental impact, since gasoline is cheap these days and the economy has improved, leading more people to spend more time driving to work (and high real estate prices in the places with most jobs also cause commutes to be lengthy).
Already, 22% of California’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and lawmakers are considering legislation requiring the state to be 100% green in its power by 2045.
It isn’t just California that is swinging into action as the president retreats from our responsibility to avoid climate disaster. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont will jointly cut power plant emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030.
Audi is joining with Chinese solar panel producer Hanergy to put solar panels on the roof of its cars. These panels will generate electricity not to drive the car but to provide heat or air conditioning, tasks that otherwise drain energy away from the powering of the car. Models could be on the road in a year or two.