California Leads in the Movement Towards Cleaner Vehicles

In 2012, California became the first state to pass global warming pollution standards legislation for cars and trucks. Their unprecedented decision began a nationwide movement to curb vehicle emissions, which have proven to contribute substantially to the green house gases building up in our atmosphere and leading to global climate change. The recent VW schedule is just one of many indicators that regulations have to be made and upheld, as manufacturers are loathe to change their money-making practices.

Washington and Oregon were among the first to follow suit, creating similar legislation in 2005 and 2006.

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle. Front ¾ in city scape. Bolt EV Concept builds upon Chevy’s experience gained from both the Volt and Spark EV to make an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle to market. The Bolt EV is designed to meet the daily driving needs of Chevrolet customers around the globe with more than 200 miles of range and a price tag around $30,000.

Eventually, in 2012, congress passed nationwide fuel economy and pollution standards that decree that 2025 vehicles will posit only half the global warming emissions and and be about twice as fuel efficient as vehicles made in 2010.

This will make a huge difference in California, where citizens drive around 320 billion miles every year.

The legislation is bolstered by a well-designed cap-and-trade program.

Before we go into the details of the cap-and-trade program, let’s go over a few important aspects of global warming that are at play here:

Scientists know that people need to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of global warming emissions at or below 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq); that way we have about a 50% chance of preventing the Earth’s average temperature from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.

According to the results of a huge amount of Scientific testing, this would help people to avoid some of the worst and irreversible consequences of global warming (which are terrifying).

As a country, the U.S. has a lot of regulation to do before this goal can be reached globally. It would have to cut its emissions by at least 80 percent from 2000 levels by 2050. According to a statement endorsed by more than 1,700 scientists and economists with expertise relevant to climate change, the first step towards achieving this should be reductions 15-20 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.

priusSo how does this happen? There has to be a global initiative to create and deploy clean energy technologies and to develop new low-carbon technologies. This will likely necessitate new policies and subsidies to spur this action along and make it more cost-effective to jump in that direction.

That’s where a good cap-and-trade program comes in. It prices carbon emissions in a way that reflects the very real economic costs of global warming. This coupled with more rigorous efficiency standards, incentives, and public investment in clean technologies and infrastructure should allow the impossible goal to finally enter the realm of the realistic.

But how do they work? Congress has to enact legislation to establish an economy-wide cap on global warming emissions that is tightened over time based on the latest scientific discoveries related to the climate. Then he EPA would auction “emissions allowances” that correspond to the level of the emission cap.

This program would move on to assign electric utilities, refineries and other polluters certain allowances for each ton of their emissions. Polluters can buy their allowances or trade them with other emitters, making it possible for polluters that reduce their emissions to be rewarded with sellable assets. Critics have stated the importance of auctioning allowances rathe than giving them away free to emitters, as giving too many allowances would distort the market.

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