The last decade is littered with announcements from cities, provinces, and states from across the globe, promising to ban internal combustion vehicles by a predetermined date. While the rules and timelines vary quite a bit, the locations are relatively consistent. China and Europe are the most eager to adopt a zero-emission strategy, with California doing most of the promising in North America.
This week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city’s “Green New Deal.” Styled to resemble the contentious stimulus program sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) that shares its name, LA’s plan is similarly concerned with promoting “environmental justice,” equity, green jobs, renewable energy, improved air quality, and sourcing clean water.
Transportation is also a major component of the deal, with the city suggesting that 100 percent of car sales will be zero-emission by 2050 and 50 percent of all trips could be completed by walking, biking, “micro-mobility” (scooters, etc), or public transit — reducing vehicle miles per capita by 45 percent in the same timeframe.
Most of the city’s plans involve ramping up compliance rates over time. In the case of zero-emission vehicles, LA wants to see 25-percent sales saturation by 2025, 80 percent by 2035, and 100 percent by 2050. Other aspects of California’s Green New Deal are handled in a similar manner, ramping up over time.
The proposal is not limited to personal vehicles. Los Angeles plans to have all Metro and LADOT buses go electric by 2030. Another interesting inclusion involves ensuring the city is “prepared for Autonomous Vehicles (AV) by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
From our vantage, the plan looks unrealistically ambitious. First, the city does not have anywhere near the amount of charging points required to facilitate electrification at this rate. While Tesla’s Supercharger network and Volkswagen’s mandatory investments into the charging infrastructure will undoubtedly help, LA is going to need see a surge in new stations if it hopes to see EV adoption rates keep pace with the Green New Deal.
Meanwhile, other aspects of the plan — like totally eliminating homelessness by 2028 — seem totally impossible. LA has a serious problem with people living on the streets and, even if it does manage to ramp up supportive housing, it’s difficult to imagine tent cities vanishing in less than one decade.
The fix for its energy/pollution problems are even less well thought out. LA wants to build the most reliable grid in the world to support the glut of EVs. However, it also wants to phase out natural gas operations at three power plants in the city by 2029 and eventually move to a grid that’s comprised entirely by renewable energy — leaning primarily on wind and solar and storing every electron it can accumulate.
That may prove insufficient as electric vehicles increase in volume and everyone plugs in their car after work. EVs will add to peak draw hours, likely overwhelming the grid as people also switch on the TV, lights, air conditioner, and whatever other electrical device happens to be within reach. Most experts seem to agree that, once 20 percent of residents in a given area own electric cars, utilities are going to have a very difficult time keeping up during peak hours.
California thinks it can get around this by utilizing smart grids, increasing the city’s cumulative energy storage and forcing every parking lot to have some way of capturing solar energy. It’s all relatively new territory. Researchers are still working on how to cope with what will happen as more people switch to EVs; the general consensus seems to be that a very robust grid must be in place before widespread adoption occurs.
If you want to check out Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, the mayor’s office has released it in its entirety. We’re curious as to your thoughts, especially those of you living in California.
[Image: Michael Vi/Shutterstock]