The environmental crisis calls for bold, well-considered action. The 2030 gas car moratorium meets that test.
Phasing out sales of new gasoline vehicles is the right move.
Assembly Member Phil Ting has announced a plan to introduce legislation banning sales of new gas vehicles in California by 2040. We should embrace this opportunity to improve public health and our climate.
California’s 35 million gas and diesel powered vehicles cause thousands of Californians to suffer and die unnecessarily from lung and heart disease, cancers, dementia and asthma. Health and climate costs are estimated at $15 billion annually. Children, people who live near busy roads and who sit in traffic are especially impacted.
Gasoline-and-diesel powered transportation is also the leading cause of carbon emissions and climate change. Each gallon of gas we use emits 20 pounds of carbon into the air. We must eliminate carbon emissions from transportation to give our kids and grandkids a better chance to live comfortably on this planet.
Some worry that Assembly Member Ting’s bill means the government will take away their vehicles. But according to the announcement, the legislation would only ban sales of NEW gas vehicles starting in 2040. You can keep your gas cars (if you’re okay with poisoning the folks sitting in traffic behind you and neighbors living along the streets where you drive). You just won’t be able to buy a new gas car starting in 2040.
Naysayers argue that we can’t transition away from gasoline because the alternatives are not completely sorted out yet. They say electric vehicle (EV) range is not sufficient, the selection of models is not adequate, and the cars aren’t affordable. They claim we’ll just be switching one dirty fuel (gas) for another (electricity), and causing another environmental problem with EV batteries. They say there’s not enough EV charging infrastructure.
Many of these issues are already resolved; the remainder will be soon. The Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla models already have 250-300+ mile ranges, and models with ranges of up to 500 miles per charge are coming out soon. Ford and GM recently announced commitments to bring a total of 33 new EV models to market in the next few years. Electric pickup trucks are in the works that will also serve as a place to plug in power tools. Financial analysts predict that new EVs will cost the same as (or less than) comparable gas cars by 2025 or sooner. For many people, total costs of owning an EV are already below those of gas cars, thanks to lower fuel and maintenance costs. The electricity to power EVs is increasingly carbon free. Twenty-nine percent of California’s electricity comes from renewables like solar and wind today, and 50% must be renewable by 2030. Issues of EV battery re-use and recycling are being addressed.
There’s no longer any question that clean, long-range EVs will be available in makes and models to satisfy every need. A ban on new gas cars would provide market certainty for automakers, charging companies and utilities to ramp up production and ensure sufficient infrastructure to support a transition to EVs.
Past experience with seat belts, unleaded gasoline, air bags, fuel economy and emissions standards shows that intelligent regulation can improve public health and/or climate with little disruption to our lifestyle or our economy. Waiting for individual consumer preference alone to take hold will take much too long. How many thousands of Californians will die or suffer while waiting? How much additional carbon pollution will we spew into the atmosphere?
California is already the world leader in electric vehicles. We’re ready to phase out gas vehicles. Let’s pass this bill and get moving.
Alyssa is a theatre and movement artist currently based in Seattle. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 2015 with a BFA in Theater and a concentration in Original Works. Recent credits include A Great Hunger (On the Boards), Christmas is Burning (Café Nordo), and To Savor Tomorrow (Café Nordo). She is currently in collaboration with Jeffrey Fracé and an ensemble of diverse artists to develop Nightswimming, a new original theatre-dance-opera and is excited to tour her original performance of “The Gas Trap” with Coltura this summer.
1. What kind of artist are you and how might people know your work?
I’m a theatre artist with a background in dance. I received my BFA in Theatre with a concentration in Original Works (playwriting and directing in addition to acting), but the works that I create usually end up being heavy in movement, something I’m not able to shake after having grown up a dancer. Since graduating in 2015, I’ve performed as an actor and/or dancer at various theatres in Seattle, but Coltura’s Gas Trap is the first performance of my own creation to hit the streets.
2. What exactly was your role in building the Gas Trap?
Basically I was given two things:
1) A concept – gasoline is horrible for the environment and we need to take action right away to break our addiction to it and
2) A stage in the form of a bubble. My job was to fill that bubble with a performance that would bring that concept to the public. I daydreamed, sketched, wrote, erased, wrote again, then presented an outline of a movement-based performance to a fellow theatre artist, Grace Orr. I gave direction in each rehearsal and Grace and I worked together to polish specific moments. I tracked down all the props and costume pieces, cut and pasted material during rehearsals, then performed alongside Grace at our first performance of The Gas Trap at Westlake Park!
3. How do you feel about the end result?
I love that we presented a performance that demanded attention, raised different questions in each individual, and got so many people thinking about their use of gasoline.
4. Do you drive an electric car? If not, what do you see as your challenges or obstacles to making that switch?
I don’t personally own or drive a car but my partner does. I think we both assume we couldn’t switch to electric because of money. But we also haven’t done extensive research so maybe there is one out there we could afford to switch to!
5. Do you live a particularly green lifestyle?
Yes! When you grow up in Oregon, living green is a value that you pick up on at a very young age. Recycling, conserving, minimizing. I’ve worked for the obliteration of the use of plastic bottles of water within communities I’m a part of. My partner and I live in a very small apartment of essentials that hardly uses any power at all. We grow our own food in our tiny yard and have built our own compost bin, which turns our waste into compost for the garden. Most all of our clothing and household items have come from second hand stores. The uh-oh for us is that we do drive a gasoline-powered vehicle when we go on trips outside of Seattle. But our transportation on a daily basis is either by bus or foot.
For more about the art and artists involved with Coltura, visit us here >>
All photos by Sy Bean for KOMO 4 News / SeattleRefined.com.
Using public art to drive environmental activism, award-winning anti-gasoline nonprofit Coltura will take to the streets on June 2 to present The Gas Trap, a performance art piece that calls attention to the harm--and death--caused by our individual and collective use of gasoline.
The Gas Trap places performers inside an inflatable, 25-foot-high kinetic sculpture that serves as a stage and clear bubble for spectators to peer inside. The bubble is fabricated from clear window vinyl and connected by a hose to the tailpipe of a car, whose exhaust is depicted as filling the bubble while its inhabitants attempt to cope with the consequences. The Gas Trap invites viewers to explore the hazy intersection of gasoline, health, climate change, money, and guilt. Coltura will present The Gas Trap in a series of appearances throughout Seattle this spring and summer, starting June 2 at 5:30 p.m. and again at 6:05 p.m. at Westlake Park, 401 Pine Street, Seattle. All performances are free and open to the public.
The Gas Trap was conceived by Coltura founder Matthew Metz, designed by local artist Samaj, and fabricated by Seattle's inflatable specialists, the Design Nerds. "The Gas Trap shrinks the atmosphere we live within down to the size of a room," Metz explains. "We think of our atmosphere as boundless and capable of infinite absorption, but it is in fact a bounded space that is increasingly saturated with smoke, pollution and carbon dioxide coming from cars."
The performers in the Gas Trap are left to uncover the horrible effects of the collective use of gasoline. If there is no way out, will people turn on each other? Will we face the truth of what we've allowed our environment to become or will they continue to deny reality?
The Gas Trap's kinetic element is smoke, which appears to come from the tailpipe of an actual car. The smoke fills the trap and obscures the actors inside as we watch their world become inhospitable. The performers present an artistic vision of what it means to be human on a planet suffocating from our unnecessary reliance on gasoline.
"The Trap plays with our notions of responsibility and cruelty," Metz says. "Is the driver of the car responsible for filling the trap with smoke? Is he cruel for doing so? Or is he doing just what we all do-driving a car and emitting smoke from our tailpipe? If so, is there culpability?"
The Trap confines not only gases and people, but also the public's confused notions of responsibility that swirl around the use of gasoline, a fuel that is increasingly unnecessary due to innovations in electric cars and electric mobility.
The performance is written and directed by Cornish graduate Alyssa Norling and performed by Alyssa Norling and Grace Orr, Seattle-based theatre and movement artists who use the endless possibilities of public art for social change.
Have you heard? We just announced our newest endeavor to use public art to drive environmental activism. This time, through music with the world’s first-ever “No Gasoline Concert.” The event will feature performances from Seattle-favorites the fusion super group Industrial Revelation, along with local musicians Bad Luck and Laurie Goldston, combined with projections from video artist Kevin Blanquies. We hope to lead by example, transporting all musicians to the event without using gasoline, and encouraging all attendees to do the same!
The musicians performing at this event will be transported with their gear by electric car, and event attendees are encouraged to get there by electric car, bus, bike, or on foot. Lo-Fi is well-served by public transportation, including the #8 bus from Capitol Hill, the #40 from Ballard, the C Line from West Seattle, the #70 from the University District, and the 545 from Bellevue, among others.
Like many events around town, this is going to be a lot of fun, but it’s just not worth using gasoline to attend. We realize that statement may come across as odd to the average person, but it is true – after all each gallon of gasoline we use puts 20 pounds of CO2 into the air, directly impacting all aspects of the environment we live in. We are hoping this event will help to empower other cultural institutions in Seattle and around the world begin to set No Gasoline as the standard for getting people to their events.
As a major bonus, our friends at ReachNow - a BMW car sharing service - are offering all event ticket holders a promo code for $15 drives in their electric vehicles to use the night of the event. Promo codes will be given to all ticket buyers the week of the event by email - specifically the email you use when purchasing tickets here.
No Gasoline Concert
June 30, 2017
@ Lo-Fi (429 Eastlake Ave E., Seattle)
Tickets $7 >> http://bit.ly/NoGasConcert
Art is Coltura’s secret weapon in the fight against fossil fuels. We create symbiotic relationships with environmentally conscious artists from around the globe and proudly display their work in our Coltura art collection (www.coltura.org/art). For the month of March, we are thrilled to feature the work of Sophia Trinh, a Vietnamese American painter who blends sketching, watercolor, and natural plant materials to create stunning images that remind us of the beauty we seek to protect by living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Previous featured artists are painter Lucas Paints and photographer John Lewis. If you are an environmentally conscious artist and want to have your work featured on Coltura.org/art, email email@example.com.
John Lussmyer shows off his custom electric Ford F250 and discusses the benefits of electric vehicles. Interview, video, and music by Jake Grossman.
A powerful new coalition is emerging to push accelerated phase-out of gasoline. The coalition is comprised of broad sectors of the public who are demanding clean air, climate activists, clean tech businesses and enthusiasts, and people concerned about the strategic and financial consequences of oil imports. It has the power to break the dominance of gasoline as the country’s principal transportation fuel.
The arrival of a new generation of electric and plug-in hybrid cars makes radical reduction of gasoline use feasible. If social attitudes and morays about personal pollution can be altered, extraordinary change in consumer buying habits and tolerance of gas taxes is possible.
Trump’s election is a huge setback for the transition away from fossil fuels. Obama’s policy initiatives relating to oil and climate are very likely to be reversed. Carbon taxes will not rise, the federal electric vehicle tax credit will be either terminated or allowed to expire, fleet efficiency standards will be lowered, and oil infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline will be given the green light.
Clearly, environmentalists must continue to defend these policies as best we can. But playing defense is not enough: we must also find a way to make progress during these years, so that oil consumption is less in 2020 than it is now.
The unprecedented 275,000 pre-orders for the Tesla Model 3 in the three days since its March 31 unveiling signals a tectonic shift in the dominance of gasoline as the country’s principal transportation fuel. The stunning number of Model 3 pre-orders, more than 2.5 times the number of electric vehicles sold in 2015, suggests there is enormous pent-up consumer demand for electric vehicles offering range, performance, and affordability comparable to (or better than) equivalent gas-powered vehicles.
What does the Model 3’s early success mean for auto manufacturers, oil companies, consumers, and governments, the four pillars supporting America’s 375 million gallon-per-day gasoline consumption habit?
Matthew Metz interviewed James Turner, Communications Chief for Greenpeace about how consumer consumption patterns can be changed, and role of major environmental organizations such as Greenpeace in promoting that change.
MM: What is the way forward in moving consumers to curtail their gasoline usage?
JT: Greenpeace doesn’t work on the consumer side in terms of trying to change personal behaviour. You know, we sort of suggest things that people can do if they’re looking to reduce that footprint, but our attitude is very much, the most effective thing you can do is to lobby your Congressman or woman in order to change the legislation, to change the top-down measures that could, for example, increase engine efficiency or increase the use of public transport or cycling in urban centres.
So that’s very much where our focus is right now. I think that
The timely transition away from fossil fuel-powered transportation in U.S. will not happen as a result of government edict, high taxes, high fuel prices, or running out of oil. As long as the vast majority of consumers use gasoline and the oil companies retain their financial grip on Congress and state legislatures, high gasoline taxes and gasoline bans will remain pipe dreams. New oil extraction technologies, vast proven oil reserves, and regular discoveries of new oil fields virtually assure that cheap oil will be with us for decades.
Rather, the transition to clean transportation will occur because consumers reject gasoline-powered cars in favor of electric cars. Some of the motivation to reject gasoline cars will be driven by price and cost—long-range electric cars will soon attain price parity with gasoline-powered cars, and electricity is already considerably cheaper than gasoline on a cost-per-mile basis. Most of the motivation for rejecting gas cars will be lifestyle-driven—mainstream consumers will come to see gasoline use as an unnecessary, dirty, anti-social act, and will prefer the “clean” feeling associated with driving an electric car.
Much of the media attention on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical focused on its recognition of the causes of global warning and the impact that the Pope might have on international and domestic climate politics, Less publicized, but possibly more impactful in the long term, is the Pope’s call to consumers to wield their purchasing power as a force for change.
Pope Francis writes:
“A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. ‘Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act.’ Today, in a word, ‘the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle.” (Laudato Si, Para. 206)
Carbon offsets allow users of carbon to “offset” their carbon use by funding projects which reduce an equal or greater amount of carbon emissions elsewhere. For example, a person who flies from Seattle to New York and back emits about 7,000 pounds of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere. To counteract the emissions from the flight, a person can “buy an offset” to help fund a project (a typical project is purchasing high-efficiency cookstoves for people in Africa presently using carbon-spewing stoves) that will prevent 7,000 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. By purchasing an offset, a person can theoretically make the cross-country flight without adding to the atmospheric over-saturation of CO2 that is threatening our planet. Some people purchase offsets to counterbalance their entire carbon footprint, which averages about 17 tons or 34,000 pounds for the average American. Most voluntary carbon offsets are purchased by businesses interested in “greening” the image of their business.
Given that carbon offsets provide just about the only way for individuals and businesses to zero out their carbon footprint, one would think that carbon offsets would be increasing popular, given growing concerns about global warming. Just the opposite—voluntary carbon offset transactions in 2013 totaled only $78 million, off 42% from 2010 levels, and sufficient to offset only 9 million tons of CO2 (the CO2emissions of 500,000 Americans). A flurry of press articles and academic studies about carbon offsets from 2006-2010 has tapered to nearly nothing. The last time the New York Times wrote about offsets was in 2007.
Many people don’t like using gasoline, but feel that they are unable to live their lives without it. Is it possible to wean oneself off gasoline?
Most people can’t stop using gasoline overnight. A realistic goal for most everybody is making a consistent effort to cut gasoline consumption, and to buy a plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid car when replacing one’s current car.
The average American drives about 13,500 miles per year in a gas-powered car, and consumes about 540 gallons of gas and emits about 10,500 pounds of CO2 per year doing so.
A recent Bloomberg article “Big Oil Is About to Lose Control of the Auto Industry: A Pollution-free Revolution Is Coming,” reports that prices of batteries for electric cars are falling fast, that cost parity between electric and gasoline cars is likely to occur within a decade, and that worldwide electric car sales totaled 288,500 (0.5% of total sales) in 2014, five times the total in 2011. The author posits that demand for gasoline is flat and gas prices are low in substantial part because of the increasing market share of low and zero-emissions vehicles.
Meanwhile, a report from auto website Edmunds.com suggests that green cars sales are highly dependent on gas prices. According to Edmunds, hybrid and electric vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2015 declined relative to the same period last year because of lower gas prices. Edmunds also reported that only 45% of people trading in a hybrid or electric vehicle in 2015 bought another one, down from 60% in 2012.
Our Horizon, a Toronto-based environmental group led by Rob Shirkey, is campaigning throughout Canada and the U.S. to enact laws requiring warning labels on gas pumps which inform consumers about the environmental consequences of using gasoline. The campaign is gaining traction. Berkeley and San Francisco governments have given preliminary approval to the idea and are in the process of drafting the warning label regulations. The City of West Vancouver recently passed a resolution favoring the warning labels.
In a stirring TEDx talk and on the ourhorizon.org website, Shirkey argues that the labels confront the consumer with the severe yet distant impacts of climate change, thereby counteracting the total lack of feedback between the use of carbon and its consequences. He also says that the warning labels “take a problem [climate change] of diffuse origins and locate responsibility right in the palm of your hand.”
Vanderbilt Professors Michael Vandenbergh and Jonathan Gilligan’s new article “Beyond Gridlock” (advance version available here, publication in the Columbia Environmental Law Journal in Summer 2015) finds enormous potential for carbon emissions reductions from voluntary private actions by businesses and households despite governmental gridlock. Mobilizing such private initiatives could buy additional years to enact comprehensive national and international climate legislation and agreements before we reach a 2oC rise in global temperatures.
The authors examine a wide array of private initiatives, ranging from corporations requiring carbon-emission disclosures from the suppliers in their supply chain (as Walmart, Cisco, and Dell have done), to drivers shutting off their cars when they idle for more than 30 seconds, to a private climate registry wherein individuals can register their actions to prevent climate change for future generations. They conclude that these and other private initiatives together could lead to a reduction in annual CO2 emissions worldwide of a gigaton or more.
What policies can bridge the divide between the public’s concern about the climate crisis and their unwilling-ness to pay additional taxes on energy?
Recent New York Times polling found that 83% of Americans (including 61% of Republicans) believe that global warming will be a serious world problem if nothing is done about it. The public’s high level of concern about global warming does not translate into willingness to pay more for carbon. The poll found 63% of the public opposed to higher gasoline taxes, and 74% opposed to higher electricity taxes.
Oil companies’ share prices tumbling. Fracking and oil exploration projects cancelled. Environmentalist dreams? No, these are today’s headlines caused by falling oil prices.
But what about the demand side? Will low gas prices cause consumers to use more gas and emit more carbon? While the supply-and-demand curves of economics textbooks and some survey evidence suggest that they will, it is hardly a foregone conclusion that gasoline demand and usage must increase if gas prices remain low. For example, bus ridership in King County, Washington is up, despite service cuts and gas prices well below last year’s. Nissan Leaf sales in December 2014 were up nearly 20% over a year earlier.