Though gas cars need to be a thing of the past in order to achieve net-zero carbon emissions they are not. Industry experts predict that realistically, the soonest gas vehicles will go away entirely is 2050. While policymakers in the US have demanded the switch to electric vehicles by 2035, such is the case in California, the task is not so easy. Barriers include issues such as infrastructure and disruptions to the industries that provide many American jobs. So, how do we achieve net-zero carbon emissions fairly by our due date?
Borrowing from the language set forth in the “Green New Deal” written by the 116th US Congress, in their first session on February 7, 2019, “Whereas the October 2018 report entitled ‘‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5o C’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report found that—
(1) human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century;” and, “(2) a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise…” creating “an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure…”. Resolution 109 outlines the actions that must be taken to override the future devastation of civilization as we know it, making a case again that has been made over the past 35 years for the urgency of acting now at all levels of society to get to net-zero carbon emissions and for civilization at large to ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ (Green New Deal FINAL – Document Viewer : NPR).
The resolution goes on to state that we are currently in danger of and are already experiencing a reduced life-expectancy, poorer health due to challenges with access to clean food and water resources, lost annual economic output due to global warming, and mass immigration from other countries due to rising sea levels. Climate change is considered a direct threat to the national security of the United States, because of its impact globally on “frontline and vulnerable communities”, and the economic, environmental, and social stability of communities, and nations globally (Green New Deal FINAL – Document Viewer : NPR).
The reason why the US is taking such a strong stance is that it’s responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions released into our atmosphere since 2014 alone. With that in mind, one can understand the sense of duty to make it right. Moving forward, the Green New Deal calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in— zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing…The Green New Deal resolution calls for working toward emissions-free vehicles, but it is unlikely that the legislation would ban gas-powered cars, and given Biden’s written proposal, it is unlikely Biden would lead an initiative to ban gas-powered vehicles” (PolitiFact | Bans on animal ag and gas-powered cars not on the Biden agenda).
However, on Climate Day, January 27, 2021, Biden gave orders addressing items that directly impact an immediate transition away from fossil fuels. Specifically, Biden ordered foreign policy to be re-written, directing government officials with federal and international influence to curtail the development and financing of fossil fuel interests internationally and to emphasize and increase efforts for green energy development as a replacement. However, in the past five years, $5 billion has already been invested in fossil fuel development abroad via the US Export-Import Bank, and $4 million by the US International Development Finance Corp. Before the election, Biden stated that he would gradually move the US economy away from fossil fuels, into renewable energy, and toward net-zero carbon emissions. But, he revoked the Keystone pipeline permit during his first two weeks in office, which immediately impacted American job security. Biden received feedback before he was elected that an abrupt move to renewables would upset jobs and set the US on a course for another depression, but he blocked construction of the Keystone Pipeline anyway. The question is, how will his climate order impact jobs, communities, and US financial interests right now after a year of coping with the pandemic economy? Americans are looking for jobs, trying to hold onto the ones they have or are in full survival mode. Circumstances beg the question; can a majority even afford to convert to non-gas net-zero carbon emissions vehicles in the next five to ten years?