While state and federal governments make policy, it’s often at the local level that real change occurs. As a resident, you can have a strong voice with your town, city or county. Most residents generally don’t take the time to speak up, so a few voices united on an issue may count for a lot, and even one voice can be enough to start the conversation.
Here are some local actions you can take:
1. Contact your local government: Often a simple request to local government leaders can result in a change that makes a real difference.
a. Look up how to contact your city council, when city council meetings are held, and the agenda for the next meeting. Usually city council meetings include an opportunity (typically 2-3 minutes per speaker) for public comment on any topic, even if it’s not on the meeting agenda.
b. Send an email or make a comment at the next city council meeting encouraging action in one or more of the above areas.
Sample message or talking points:
I have lived in this city for ___ years, and I care deeply about our air quality and the climate.
I think it’s important for our city to accelerate the transition away from gasoline vehicles and toward clean transportation such as electric vehicles.
Vehicle emissions are the leading preventable cause of air pollution. They increase risks of asthma, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and dementia. A study from MIT found that vehicle emissions cause 58,000 deaths a year in the U.S. – more deaths than car crashes or secondhand smoke. The worst effects are on children, people of color, and people who commute in heavy traffic or live near busy roads.
When we sit in traffic with gas vehicles, we’re breathing toxic emissions. When parents idle their gas cars outside our schools, our children are breathing toxic emissions.
In addition to causing air pollution, transportation is our country’s single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions. To address climate change, we must address vehicle emissions.
Phasing out gasoline vehicles will also save our residents money on fuel, create green jobs, spur economic growth and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Our city can and should take steps to facilitate the transition away from gas vehicles. Here are a few ideas of actions we could take:
[Select any one or more of the measures below that you believe are most important for your city – feel free to add your own! Further examples and resources are here and here and here.]
● Installing electric vehicle charging stations in public places
● Building codes requiring electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new construction
● Streamlined, free, online permitting for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
● Incentives for workplaces and multifamily units to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure
● Model “green leases” allocating costs and benefits of adding electric vehicle charging infrastructure in multi-unit developments
● Free parking, no tolls and access to high occupancy vehicle lanes for clean vehicles
● Electrification of the city-owned fleet
● City arrangement with transit agencies that public fleets (e.g., buses) will be non-gasoline
● City outreach events (like electric vehicle test drives) and education about clean alternatives to gasoline vehicles
● Improve infrastructure for public transit, biking and walking
I would be happy to help our city make progress on any of these measures.
Thank you for your leadership.
[Your name and address]
2. Encourage other city residents to send similar messages to the city council. Often a handful of residents speaking up on an issue is enough to mobilize the city to take action.
3. Ask your employer, your landlord, your supermarket, your shopping center, place of worship and anywhere else you visit, to put in electric vehicle charging stations.
4. Submit an Op Ed or Letter to the Editor
Educate your community about the impacts of gasoline vehicles and the need to phase them out with an Op Ed or letter to the editor. Use the following template as a starting point, or write your own. Look up the guidelines for submitting an Op Ed for your local paper, as they may include specific word count limits. Let Coltura know if your letter is published!
Sample Op Ed:
It’s Time to Transition to Clean Vehicles
A growing list of countries is already making the transition away from dirty gasoline vehicles to clean, electric ones. Germany, India, Norway and the Netherlands and China are moving to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by or before 2030, and France and the U.K. by 2040. Our state should join that list and pass a law that ensures our new cars are clean, zero emissions vehicles starting in 2030 or sooner. Here’s why:
Fight Climate Change: Every gallon of gas burned emits 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is the main driver of climate change. Transportation is the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 32 percent of our carbon footprint.
Improve Health: Vehicle emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles are also the country’s largest source of air pollution, causing 58,000 premature deaths annually, and increasing the risks of asthma, lung disease and cancers – especially in children and those living near busy roads.
Boost Jobs, Economy, Energy Independence: Transitioning to clean electric cars would move dollars from crude oil (much of it imported from OPEC countries and Alaska) to the domestic/local economy.
The Clean Vehicle Option is Good and Improving:
Tesla and Chevy electric vehicle models already get 200 to 300+ miles of range per charge -- more than enough for the average American commute of less than 40 miles a day. For longer trips, super-fast chargers are coming soon that will rival gas refueling speeds. Electric SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks are coming in the next few years. Electric vehicles can be charged every night while you sleep -- no more waiting at gas stations and breathing toxic fumes. Lifetime costs for many EVs are already lower than for gas cars, due to savings on fuel and maintenance -- and even cheaper for those with solar panels. Upfront costs of many EVs are around $20,000 to $30,000 with incentives and rebates; sticker prices are expected to continue dropping as battery technology improves. Issues around variety of makes and models, affordability and charging infrastructure are being addressed now, and will be resolved well before 2030.
Here are steps we can take to transition away from gasoline vehicles in our state:
● Ask your legislator to pass legislation providing that all new vehicles be clean, zero-emission vehicles starting in 2030.
● Commit that your next car will be a clean, gas-free.
● Advocate for your city council and county supervisors to introduce and support building ordinances that require electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new construction and retrofits.
● Ask your employer, your landlord, your supermarket, and your shopping center to put in electric vehicle charging stations.
Transitioning quickly to clean vehicles is critical to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goals and minimize the catastrophic impacts of climate change. We’re already on the road to clean cars; we just need to accelerate.
5. Submit a Perspective to your local public radio station
6. Post on NextDoor.com
NextDoor.com is a private social network for neighbors and communities to communicate about matters of local interest. You can post on NextDoor to alert neighbors to relevant events in your area such as city council meetings on measures related to the transition away from gasoline vehicles, opportunities to test drive electric vehicles (your own EV if you’re willing!). It’s also a place to remind neighbors to avoid idling their gas vehicles in populated areas such as schools during pick-up and drop-off.
7. Volunteer with Coltura
Coltura has volunteer opportunities for people everywhere. Please email at us email@example.com and tell us a little about yourself and why and how you would like to volunteer.