Between President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the “June Gloom” obscuring our beloved sunshine in Southern California, you might think a Los Angeles-based clean energy advocate would be steeped in melancholy.
Instead, I am energized. I know that California leaders are redoubling efforts to ensure that the Golden State continues to lead the way to a safer, healthier future for our communities and our planet. Driving my Chevy Volt down the freeway, I listen to reports of Governor Jerry Brown meeting with Chinese counterparts to ensure that we are accelerating the growth of energy storage solutions and rapidly transitioning to a clean vehicle future. Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León is championing a landmark bill to commit California to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045.
California’s forward-thinking leadership does not stop there. This Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will launch BlueLA Carsharing, the city’s new, innovative electric car sharing program. It’s specifically designed to provide low-income Angelenos with more options for getting from point A to B, all while cleaning up our air, improving public health and protecting our climate.
Mayor Garcetti will open a demonstration station at 1901 West 7th St. to serve as a hub for community education, outreach and test drive events as the city rolls out additional stations throughout the year. In total, BlueLA Carsharing will offer 100 all-electric vehicles to serve low-income communities in Central L.A. (Downtown L.A., Pico Union, Westlake and parts of Koreatown). The cars will be accompanied by 200 publicly available EV charging stations in these communities where there are hardly any public charging stations today.
BlueLA Carsharing aims to recruit more than 7,000 participants in these neighborhoods, providing clean, reliable options for people to do some shopping, go to a doctor’s appointment, get to a job interview, and take other occasional trips. It’s estimated that the program will avoid the need for 1,000 private, gas-powered cars, eliminating an estimated 2,150 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
This car sharing program will make it possible for many low-income Angelenos to get in the driver’s seat of the clean vehicle revolution, helping to end our reliance on the dirty transportation of last century that has poisoned the health of our communities and our planet for too long. We are now driving towards a cleaner future for all Angelenos — and setting a strong example for the country and the world.
Credit for this program is, appropriately, to be shared by many. Environment California, the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, The Greenlining Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council had the distinct honor to work with Senator De León to pass his 2014 Charge Ahead California Initiative, which is working to create a tipping point for electric vehicles by ensuring that low-income Californians and communities of color are benefiting from the transition to zero-tailpipe emissions. This initiative directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to create a low-income EV car sharing pilot program, which now provides funding — from the penalties paid to the state by polluters — to both BlueLA Carsharing and a newly launched car sharing program for public housing residents in Sacramento.
And, of course, Mayor Garcetti and his Office of Sustainability have had the vision, commitment and drive (pun intended) to take these ideas and turn them into a program that has the support of key city departments and numerous community-based organizations.
BlueLA Carsharing is operated by the Bolloré Group of France, which has launched successful car sharing programs in Paris and Indianapolis. BlueLA Carsharing is working closely with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Shared Use Mobility Center to ensure that the program meets all its goals.
And while there have been many leaders, agencies and groups involved in the creation of this program, all the average Angeleno needs to know is that they can easily go online to reserve a car in advance or simply stop at a BlueLA kiosk to get started driving electric.
It’s this type of ingenuity and investment in our communities that is making California a strong leader in the climate change fight. And these are the stories that the world needs to hear from the U.S. as we charge ahead together towards a cleaner future.