OPINION: Why The U.S. Should Take Notes on China’s Vehicle Ban

By: Clinton Barney

Twitter: @OwlFeedCJ

On September 12th, the LA Times reported  China’s ban on the manufacturing and selling of cars that run off of fossil fuels (gas and diesel engines). The move was made under the intentions of the Paris Agreement and aimed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that pollute the environment.

Countries such as Britain, France and India vowed to implement their own version of the ban within the next 30 years, by 2040 to be exact.

The United States has stayed silent on the matter, though. Automakers like Volvo (The Verge) and Mercedes (USA Today) are planning to halt their production of gas-only cars in the U.S. Instead, they are pushing for hybrid, electric and more eco-friendly vehicles in the near future. However, the United States as a whole hasn’t built off of the bans established by the other world’s superpowers. Remember that the U.S opted out of the Paris Climate Agreement earlier this year.

chinacarstoryInstead of straying away from the Agreement, I believe that the United States should follow in China’s footsteps in reducing the amount of gas cars on the road in order to cut down on carbon emissions for the better of the environment.

The main reason China is switching to electric is to reduce pollutants caused by tailpipe emissions (the gases that come from a car’s tailpipe after gasoline is used) and extraction of fossil fuels. They’re trying to reduce the amount of carbon emissions into the air, since their air quality is horrible as it is. The Department of Energy says that direct emissions lead to harmful chemicals such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide being released into the air we breathe.

By using renewable energy instead of carbon and pollutant-creating fuels, China can cut down on their air pollution problem. In America, where the air pollution isn’t as bad, having these electric cars that run on renewable energy can prevent the air from being as toxic as China’s, especially if President Trump does end up bringing the coal industry back from the grave.

No, it won’t solve the problem of global warming, but it’s a good start.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), China produces 30% (2.8 billion metric tons) of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and the United States is close behind in second place with 15% (1.4 billion metric tons). The reason these countries have such high emission numbers is because they burn fossil fuels, and a good bit of that percentage, 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, is caused by the fuel cycle of cars.

“[Carbon] emissions,” the Department of Energy says, “are produced when petroleum is extracted from the ground, refined to gasoline, distributed to stations, and burned in vehicles”. However, electric cars “produce zero direct emissions”. By switching to electric, companies can cut down on these emissions, chipping away at the amount of carbon going into our air.

All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas.” (energy.gov)

Even though electric cars are healthier for the environment, people are against the use of electric cars for a few reasons. The main reason is because the electricity is created through power plants fueled by coal, and increasing the amount of electricity needed would increase the amount of coal needed and burnt, thus not fixing the air pollution problem. These people think that replacing gas-engines with 100% electric vehicles is not the appropriate way to battle climate change.

The fact that the burning of coal and fossil fuels to create electricity is right. In theory, the only way to truly change the environment through electric car domination would be if a clean, coal-free electricity grid was created.

The cleaner we make our electricity system – by adding more wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources,” as written by Environment Virginia, “the less global warming pollution electric vehicles will produce.”

Despite the problem with the current electricity grid, gas cars still produce more carbon emissions than electric cars do, through both the tailpipe and cycle of fossil fuel extraction. The Union of Concerned Scientists report that, “ battery electric cars charged off the dirtiest coal-dominated grid still produce less pollution than their gasoline-powered counterparts.”

By reducing the amount of carbon going into the air by a fraction, we can have a big impact and help protect the earth for our future generations.

Like I said, switching to electric cars from gas-engines wouldn’t solve the problem of carbon emissions and global warming, but it’ll be a good start.

In America, where the problem of air quality isn’t as apparent, switching to electric will help prevent our air from becoming as toxic as China’s.

Photo from BBC