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Indiana Asked to Help Accelerate Clean-Car Shift

Will U.S. automakers answer a call for a faster transition to electric vehicles? (Mrs. Gemstone/Flickr)
Will U.S. automakers answer a call for a faster transition to electric vehicles? (Mrs. Gemstone/Flickr)
July 11, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana businesses and cities are being invited to become part of a global vision for a cleaner future. The Zero Emissions Vehicle Challenge, announced on Tuesday, is encouraging companies and communities to use their purchasing power and policy influence to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles.

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said it's time to dispel the myths about hybrid and electric vehicles.

"We're advancing the technology, but I think that we're treating it as though it's the new fire and we're adding a lot of cost to that," he said, "so we need to think in a collaborative way, and maybe slice a little bit of the profit margin off and start doing what's right."

The challenge calls for an auto-sector pledge to end production of combustion-engine vehicles, and for a commitment to a percentage of zero-emission vehicle sales by 2025. Businesses are being encouraged to switch fleets to electric vehicles, and cities are asked to focus on improving infrastructure and policy.

Helen Clarkson, chief executive of The Climate Group, which is leading the ZEV Challenge, said several nations have announced end dates for the sale of gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles. In the United States, California plans to have 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030. Clarkson said automakers need to step up their game.

"If you look at the science on climate change, it's telling us we've got to do as much as we can as quickly as possible, and zero-emission vehicles are here today," she said. "So, the sooner we can really get them into the market, the better."

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has a goal to make the city in Hamilton County more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Besides shifting to cleaner vehicle fleets, he said efficient city design should be part of a zero-emissions goal.

"For hundreds of years, we built sustainable cities in our civilization, then the car comes along and we throw out all the rules. The sprawl is the real culprit, and the car enables us to do that," he said. "So, we need to focus on building denser, more beautiful cities that people want to live in."

More than 400 mayors have committed to uphold the climate benchmarks set in the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump's move to withdraw the United States from the global climate pact.

Information about the ZEV Challenge is online at theclimategroup.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN