According to the EPA, the transportation sector is responsible for 29% of U.S. carbon emissions—the largest single source. Transitioning to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy is therefore crucial to tackling climate change. Additionally, the emissions that cause climate change also have a catastrophic effect on public health, particularly in poor urban areas. Michigan has among the highest rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in the nation, causing thousands of premature deaths and missed school and work days per year.
The Ecology Center is working with its partners to pave the way for the electric future by ensuring that electric vehicles are both affordable and practical, that utilities companies are paying their fair share, and that attention is paid to making public transportation equitable.
We are the coordinators of Charge Up Midwest, a regional coalition which educates policymakers and the public sector about the advantages of electric vehicles. We promote charging networks and incentives that will help make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient to drive.
But people who don’t have vehicles still need to get to work on time, and for transportation-based emission reduction strategies to be successful they have to yield immediate, tangible benefits to everyone. The worst impacts of climate change and dirty energy are borne by low income families and communities of color. Improving public transportation is one way to ensure that the mobility revolution is experienced by society at large.
Michigan became the 9th state to commit to carbon neutrality when Governor Whitmer signed Executive Directive 2020-10 and Executive Order 2020-182, and formed the Council on Climate Solutions to create recommendations for how to get there. The Council is made up of leaders in the public, private, and volunteer sectors including Charles Griffith, the Ecology Center’s Climate and Energy Program Director and one of the Midwest’s leading advocates for vehicle electrification and climate-friendly transportation over the past three decades. Griffith was tapped to co-Chair the Council’s Transportation Working Group, which has been working on a series of recommendations that will help the state meet its carbon reduction goals.
The Ecology Center also participates in the Electrification Workgroup of the Council on the Future of Mobility and Electrification. The purpose of the Council is to assess Michigan’s mobility assets and help the state define the leading edge of autonomous driving, vehicle connectivity, powertrain electrification, shared mobility, intelligent automation, and global supply chain. One of the key findings in the Council’s first annual report is the urgency of increasing EV adoption rates.