Every gallon of gasoline that is manufactured, distributed, and then burned in a motor vehicle,
emits 25 pounds of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming gas, into the atmosphere. In California, transportation
causes more than half of the state’s global warming emissions. Nationwide, motor vehicles are responsible for a
quarter of the United States’ global warming emissions, more than most other countries emit from all sources combined.
And things are only going to get worse. National fuel efficiency standards have stagnated for
the past decade and regulation loopholes for SUVs, minivans, and light pickups are driving up emissions by dragging
down fuel economy. At the same time, the number of motor vehicles in the United States is expected to double in
the next several decades. In California, the number of vehicles and the number of miles those vehicles travel are
supposed to double within two decades.
What Does Global Warming Mean for California?
In a study commissioned by Union of Concerned Scientists and the Ecological Society of America,
the state’s leading scientists predict that global warming will cause more frequent and severe storms such as El
Nino, flooding, erosion and landslides in the winter. In summer, Californians can expect more droughts as a result
of reduced winter snow pack, and more frequent and severe wildfires, winds, and heat waves.
Global warming will cost California dearly. In addition to increased natural disasters, increased
temperatures will reduce crop productivity and make crops more vulnerable to new pests and pathogens. Many of California’s
rare and unique species will not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive the climate changes. Increased temperatures
will cause more smog and more convective storms that in turn carry acid rain and pollute out fresh water systems.
Warmer ocean temperatures will result in loss of coastal fisheries and ocean productivity.
How Can ZEV’s Help?
The global warming reductions that fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles provide are offset by the
increasing number of vehicles and vehicle miles traveled in California. We need clean, advanced vehicles, such
as battery electrics, fuel cells, and super-efficient hybrids.
By providing Californians with clean alternatives to gasoline vehicles, the Zero Emission Vehicle
(ZEV) program reduces global warming emissions. Electric vehicles reduce global warming emissions by 70 percent,
even with the power plant emissions caused by recharging. Battery electrics that run on clean power and fuel cells
that run on hydrogen can reduce global warming emissions 100 percent.
The ZEV program is the only program in the country that is spurring the development of the technology
that can eliminate global warming pollution in cars and trucks. The ZEV program is delivering the clean, fuel-efficient
vehicles that will benefit California’s economy, environment, and public health.
Source: Confronting Climate Change in California, with special thanks to