Transportation accounts for 42% of global warming emissions in N.J. Here’s how electric cars can dramatically reduce that

A call to drastically change our transportation system during National Drive Electric Week

Simon Horowitz is a global warming solutions associate with Environment New Jersey. – Environment N.J.

Never have the impacts of climate change been so apparent and so impactful in our country. As a deadly wildfire season out West collides with a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, ominous-looking photos of red skies rightfully ring alarm bells.

Either we swiftly address climate change and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, or our planet will only get hotter, with even more devastating repercussions. Nothing contributes to a warming planet more than transportation. It’s the largest source of emissions nationwide and within New Jersey.

Transportation accounts for 42% of global warming pollution in New Jersey. To prevent the harshest consequences of global warming, we must commit to nothing less than dramatically changing our transportation system. While we must improve public transport options, as well increase biking and walking safety and availability, the reality is that many Americans, especially New Jerseyans, rely on passenger cars. So, the only way cars will work for us safely is for them to be electric. Gasoline-powered cars are simply too harmful to our climate and our air quality.

Fortunately, electric vehicles already have arrived. Environment New Jersey is marking National Drive Electric Week by hosting an hourlong “EV 101” webinar at 5 p.m. Thursday to inform people and foster discussion about these highly efficient and increasingly affordable vehicles. Our webinar will shed light on all the benefits of EVs, why they are a viable option now, and how New Jersey is encouraging EV adoption. A panel of experts and local EV owners will answer audience questions and address common concerns prospective buyers and the public have regarding electric vehicles.

You can register here.

The average gas-powered vehicle emits more than 11,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and the electricity generation needed to power the average EV in New Jersey emits just 2,570 pounds. While gas-powered vehicles limit us to one dirty, fossil fuel energy source, EVs can be powered by the sun, wind, water and more.

In addition to their environmental benefits, electric vehicles have numerous consumer benefits that set them apart from gas-powered competitors. EVs have fewer moving parts and are simpler to maintain, meaning significantly reduced maintenance fees. And the electricity required to fuel an EV is much cheaper than gas. On average in the United States, EV owners spend 28% less in maintenance costs than gas-powered sedan owners, and spend over 60% less in fueling costs. In many cases, this amounts to thousands of dollars saved each year.

EVs are quieter, owners often report improved handling experience and EVs give owners the convenience of at-home charging, meaning less time spent waiting in line at the gas pump. Research in its early stages offers encouraging signs that the even weight distribution, lower center of gravity and regenerative braking of electric vehicles seem to significantly improve vehicle safety.

There’s good news on the cost side, too. The federal government offers EV owners up to a $7,500 tax credit in rebates, and New Jersey offers up to $5,000 rebates. The state Board of Public Utilities offers up to $500 in rebates for at-home charging station installation. Additionally, New Jerseyans who own EVs pay less for EZ Pass tolls and are allowed to drive in HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the car.

The N.J. Electric Vehicle bill that Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law in 2020 sets such goals for EV adoption as:

  • 330,000 registered light-duty EVs in the state by 2025;
  • 2 million registered light-duty EVs by 2035;
  • 85% of all new light-duty vehicles sold or leased will be electric by 2040;
  • 200 fast charging stations publicly available by 2025 (fast chargers plug into 480-volt, direct-current outlets and can recharge 80% of battery capacity in 20-30 minutes;
  • 1,000 level-two chargers (240 volt) publicly available by 2025; they recharge 100% of battery capacity in 4-6 hours;
  • 15% of multifamily residential property offering level-one (120 volts) or level-two chargers by 2025;
  • 50% of franchised hotels and lodging establishments equipped with level-two chargers by 2030;
  • 25% of state-owned non-emergency light-duty vehicles to be electric by 2025 and 100% electric by 2035.

Clearly, electric vehicles are not a futuristic fantasy. They are here now, and using them will take us where we need to go, both in terms of driving destinations and saving our planet from the ravages of climate change.

Simon Horowitz is a global warming solutions associate with Environment New Jersey, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. The group represents more than 20,000 dues-paying members across the state and is based in Trenton and New Brunswick.