America’s climate policies are considered to be “critically insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker, in the context in which the Paris international climate target was set to 2°C. The main sectors targeted for pollution reduction are represented by power supply and transportation, together accounting for almost 60 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
While carbon emissions generated by the power sector have decreased considerably as a result of coal-fuelling being replaced by natural gas and renewable power supplies, such as wind and solar energy, emissions resulted from transportation have been on a constant rise since 2012.
In the transportation field, the top offenders are represented by passenger vehicles, which generate approximately 60 percent of the carbon emissions, followed by heavy-duty trucks, which are responsible for another 23% of the emissions. A solution with a very high impact, which would contribute to reducing carbon emissions with an estimated 60 percent, would be switching from gasoline or diesel-powered cars to electric vehicles.
So far, electric vehicles have been beyond the reach of the general public due to high purchase costs and limited battery autonomy. However, both of the previously-mentioned fields are in a process of continuous improvement, offering potential customers extended kilometre ranges at lower prices. If the first mass-produced hybrid cars were available for purchase at a price of approximately $34,000 for an autonomy of 160 km, nowadays you can buy an electric vehicle for $36,620 and an autonomy of 383 km, or if you prefer a more affordable version, you can spend $30,000 for a 240-km range. At this point, all the major automotive companies are investing in hybrid cars, therefore a continuous decrease in costs over a relatively short period of time can be anticipated, with the products of this industry becoming more affordable and optimized.
Apart from their biggest advantage, represented by the low level of carbon emissions, electric vehicles also imply reduced costs with fuel and maintenance, which for the average user represents a major and tangible plus. Furthermore, the simple construction of hybrid cars also means fewer breakable car parts and less necessary fluids, thus adding to the list of benefits for owning such a vehicle.
At the moment, in order to stay within the 2°C temperature range established as target, America has to address the issue of transportation as soon as possible, especially when there are readily available solutions just waiting to be implemented. The transition from vehicles powered by fossil fuels to hybrid vehicles is impending and the sooner America begins to work on it, by taking specific measures, such as imposing taxes on carbon emissions, the faster we will be able to see the positive effects.