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Cities Join in Challenge for Clean Transportation

Formula E Championship electric race cars are helping speed the transition to zero-emission vehicles.  (Andrea Sears)
Formula E Championship electric race cars are helping speed the transition to zero-emission vehicles. (Andrea Sears)
July 11, 2018

NEW YORK - Cities and states are using their collective influence to speed up the transition to electric vehicles.

This weekend is the second running of the Formula E Championship, 10 teams driving electric cars in a race along the Brooklyn waterfront. On Tuesday, against that backdrop, The Climate Group, an international organization dedicated to fighting global climate change, launched the "Zero Emission Vehicle Challenge."

Climate Group chief executive Helen Clarkson said cities and businesses operate large fleets, and by switching to electric, they send a signal to automobile manufacturers.

"Zero-emission are here today, so the sooner we can really get them into the market the better," she said, "and by really pulling this demand signal together, we give the surety to manufacturers that they can switch, and they can switch quickly."

The state of California - as well as cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and major businesses around the world - have joined the Zero Emission Vehicle Challenge.

Transportation is now the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions. According to New York City's chief fleet officer, Keith Kerman, the Big Apple already is in the process of switching its fleet of 30,000 vehicles to electric power.

"We're going to be buying basically only electric sedans from now on," he said. "Mayor (Bill) de Blasio committed in his State of the City that we would only buy electric cars moving forward, and that's what we're doing."

Kerman said the city also is moving quickly to install infrastructure, such as fast-charging stations, to help with the transition, both for city-owned and private electric vehicles.

Clarkson noted that as demand increases, the price of electric vehicles is falling. As more cities, states and businesses commit to the Zero Emission Challenge, she said, the message is clear.

"We want, with this challenge," she said, "to say to the automotive industry, 'Tell us what your end game is. This is happening, so how quickly can you do it? What can you commit to by 2025, and what can you commit to beyond that?"

Clarkson added that several countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway, France and India, have said they will ban internal-combustion engines beginning in 2040.

More information is online at theclimategroup.org and globalclimateactionsummit.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY