Working to reduce our transportation emissions - Albuquerque Journal

Working to reduce our transportation emissions

How cool would it be to have your car run on solar or wind energy?

It may sound like a myth, but electric vehicles (EVs) powered by New Mexico’s electricity grid are getting cleaner every day as our state continues the transition to carbon-free electricity generated from renewable resources. Even today, EVs in New Mexico produce three times less global-warming pollution than the average gas-powered car.

According to the recently released New Mexico Climate Strategy report, statewide emissions have exploded, with a 50% increase since 2005, and transportation recently surpassed the electricity sector as the second-largest source of global-warming pollution in our state economy. Unfortunately, we are not alone in our emissions gluttony, leading to the staggering impacts from climate change that are becoming more visible every year.

New Mexico’s temperature has increased about 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 45 years. That might not sound like much, but the consequences of that are Santa Fe feels more like Albuquerque, and Albuquerque feels more like Las Cruces. Climate change is destabilizing our natural areas and the signs are all around us.

Even after our record-setting October snowstorm, all of New Mexico is still experiencing some level of drought, with 95% of the state existing in severe to exceptional drought status.

Elephant Butte was nearly empty last summer and irrigation in the middle Rio Grande was cut short by a month last fall and this spring due to low river flows.

Our monsoon season is becoming less reliable. Snowpack is accumulating less and melting earlier, reducing our already scarce water supplies for our forests, agriculture and people. This affects our economy and our health.

New Mexicans currently emit 70% more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than the average American. The good news is that each and every one of us can contribute to the solution by working to reducing our transportation emissions. We’ll explain how.

The GHG emissions reduction goals set by the 2019 Energy Transition Act (ETA) and signed by the governor require that an increasing proportion of light-duty cars sold and used in New Mexico must be electric. Electric transportation is one of New Mexico’s most powerful climate tools, and research shows that New Mexicans could reduce GHGs up to 88% by 2050 just by making this one change.

We aren’t asking you to go out and buy a new (or used) car tomorrow. What we are asking is that the next time you plan to make a vehicle purchase, you consider a plug-in electric vehicle.

Ever hear the phrase, think globally, act locally? Here are a few suggestions how you can do just that to cut air pollution in your community, and protect our health and the environment.

Encourage your local city, town or county government to lead by example and transition their fleet to EVs. Support local transit and its conversion to electric buses. If you work for or own a business that has a fleet of cars or trucks, can some of those be converted to EVs on your regular replacement schedule? If you work for, or own, a local business, consider installing an EV charging station for your employees or customers. Support local city, town and county bike infrastructure or walkability to get people out of their cars. Get an electric bike to run local errands. Or support statewide clean car standards.

There are many other ways to reduce emissions, but we must work together and all do our part to meet these vital goals. Do it for your health, for your kids’ health and the health of our future.

Wilson Scanlin of Santa Fe is a partner at Positive Energy Solar.

 

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