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Our Campaigns

Destination: Zero Carbon

Goal: Make all new cars electric by 2035. Make all buses electric by 2030. Double the number of people who travel on foot, bike or public transit by 2030.

Transportation is now America’s number one source of global warming pollution, with greenhouse emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles surpassing every other source. We simply can’t solve global warming without changing how Americans get around.

  • <h4>TO GET TO ZERO CARBON: ELECTRIFY CARS</h4><h5>We’re calling for all new cars to be electric by 2035.</h5>
  • <h4>TO GET TO ZERO CARBON: ELECTRIFY BUSES</h4><h5>We’re calling for all school and public transit buses to be electric by 2030.</h5><em>Erica Kawamoto Hsu</em>
  • <h4>TO GET TO ZERO CARBON: DRIVE LESS, LIVE MORE</h4><h5>Our goal is to double the number of people who travel on foot, bike or public transit by 2030.</h5><em>Jennifer Newman</em>
The next major hurdle to meeting our Paris commitment

The challenge is critical. Our transportation system is not only America’s biggest source of carbon pollution, but also one of the biggest sources in the world. Our country’s cars, trucks, trains and other vehicles emit more carbon dioxide than the entire economy of any single country other than China and India.

With renewable energy sources for generating electricity expanding rapidly, reducing pollution from our transportation system is the next major hurdle we must overcome in order to meet our commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement.

We can do it. We can not only reduce but virtually eliminate transportation pollution. We have the technology and policy know-how.

For decades, our network and other environmentalists have backed policies that promote efficient electric vehicles, and we’re starting to see results. Today, affordable, efficient, long-range electric vehicles are hitting the streets in record numbers, and better vehicles are coming online all the time.

However, to meet our commitments under Paris and get to zero-carbon transportation by mid-century, we need to do more. And we need to do it from the ground up—winning nuts-and-bolts policy changes in multiple communities in multiple states—to make zero-carbon transportation the most convenient, most affordable, and most enjoyable option for every trip.

Destination: Zero Carbon

That’s why we’re launching Destination: Zero Carbon, our campaign to electrify cars, electrify buses, and reduce the need to drive by making it easier, cheaper and more enjoyable to travel on foot, bike or public transit.

Despite the disagreement and dysfunction at the federal level, we have myriad opportunities to transform our transportation systems at the local, state and regional levels.

Thanks in part to the work our national network has done, 10 states, representing nearly a quarter of all vehicles in the U.S., now require a rising share of new cars to be electric. New York City, Chicago, Seattle and the state of California have already committed to switch from dirty diesel to clean electric buses. Our network has led efforts to improve public transportation and build safer streets for walking and biking in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

Here’s what we need to do next to get to a zero-carbon transportation system:

Electrify cars

Cars account for 60 percent of our transportation pollution. A zero-carbon transportation system means that every car on the road will need to run on clean, renewable energy by 2050. To get there, our network is calling for all new cars sold after 2035 to be electric and urging:

Electrify buses

Some 450,000 dirty diesel school buses are still in service today, adding to our carbon emissions while putting tens of millions of children at risk of cancer and respiratory diseases. We’re calling for all school and public transit buses in Iowa to be electric by 2030. To get there, we’re asking our local, state and regional officials in Iowa to replace diesel-powered school buses, public transit buses or both with clean electric buses. We are:

  • Educating decision-makers on the technology, feasibility and funding options for making the switch, and

  • Calling on our state and the federal government to increase technical and financial assistance for bus operators to go electric.

Photo: David Wilson
Drive less, live more

If we make it easier, more affordable, and more pleasant to take a train or bus, to share rides, or to bike or walk, then more of us will choose to travel without a car or even not own a car at all. Our goal is to double the number of people who travel on foot, bike or public transit by 2030. Our national network is working in 11 states to:

  • Secure increased funding to improve and expand public transportation, as we did in Massachusetts,

  • Provide more walking and biking options, as we have in Colorado, and

  • Support policies that encourage transit-oriented development and sustainable living, as we have in Texas.

There’s growing evidence that the public is ready for these changes.

More people are buying electric cars. Car companies are investing in them and making more models. Transit agencies are finding that electric buses and trains actually save them money over time. Cities and towns are creating places that are easier to navigate on foot, on a bike, or by public transit. We can not only reduce carbon pollution but also make it easier and more pleasant to get around.

Easing and expediting the changes we need to get to zero carbon

Public policies can ease and expedite these changes. For example, Environment Iowa and our national network of state-based environmental advocates have helped convince more than a dozen states to adopt California’s clean cars standard, which has spurred improvements in electric vehicle technology. Our national network's research partner, Environment America Research & Policy Center, along with our partners at Frontier Group, have reported on ways to achieve zero-carbon transportation, build electric vehicle infrastructure, shift from diesel-powered to electric buses, and promote shared mobility and climate-friendly development.

By working in the states, on campaigns where we can make immediate progress, we can get America back on track to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, no matter what happens in Washington, D.C. However, we must do all we can as fast as we can. The longer we wait to cut carbon pollution, the more rapidly the planet will warm, robbing our kids and grandkids of the stable climate that we have taken for granted.

Don't let the Trump administration pull the plug on electric cars

Here’s one step we can take right now: Defend the federal tax credit for electric vehicles.

The skeptics ask whether Americans are really ready to part with gasoline-powered cars. It’s going to be an adjustment, to be sure. But moving away from gasoline and diesel means cleaner air for ourselves and our kids—and fewer of the tragic spills and other environmental calamities that inevitably come with oil production. And the transition to zero-carbon transportation will give Americans new freedom to travel in ways that are clean, affordable and fun, with safe places to walk and bike, convenient buses and trains, and electric cars we can own or hail with an app.