Automobiles are among the biggest sources of air pollution in the world. According to a report by the Environment Protection Agency, roughly 75% of carbon monoxide emissions in the USA today come from automobiles. Overall, cars and other on-road vehicles today contribute anywhere between 50-90% of air pollution in the urban areas. Given this massive contribution to pollution from this one sector, any minor change here could have a dramatic cascading effect on the overall pollution levels in the world.
The arrival of Tesla as a popular car brand is great news. Although Tesla did not pioneer the EV concept, their rise has also meant other mainstream car manufacturers today have been investing heavily on the EV segment. The Fiat 500 and Chevy Volt are some rival models that are not only energy friendly but also offer a driving experience that people have come to known with gasoline powered cars. Besides manufacturing great electric vehicles, the need of the hour is also to mobilize the population towards shifting towards a clean energy future. The Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy campaign is one such initiative towards this.
General Motors launched the Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign last year to promote clean energy technology across educational institutions in the United States. The idea is simple – US Colleges and Universities that rely on energy derived from organic sources are encouraged to invest in alternate clean energy sources like solar energy or wind energy. Using an accredited formula, the carbon energy saved by this investment is calculated and the universities are awarded the commensurate energy credits. Chevrolet has promised to buy these carbon credits from the institutions which shall then be retired; thus financially incentivizing universities to move towards clean energy.
Chevrolet claims that the financial incentives offered by their company can alone contribute to as much as 25% of the incremental capital needed by universities to deliver clean energy. As on date, the company claims that more than 3.4 million metric tons of Carbon-dioxide emissions have been saved due to this initiative. They report a target of 8 million metric tons in a five year period.
Chevrolet’s project is a great model for other businesses to follow. One major reason is that the migration of consumers from gasoline powered automobiles to electric technology will take time. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of electric vehicles as a percenage of the total automobiles on road is expected to rise from 0.02% today to 2% by 2020. This means in six years from now, electric vehicles are still expected to constitute an extremely small chunk of the overall automobile.
One way to mobilize the population to adopt clean technology faster is by building greater awareness among the student community today. By targeting colleges and universities with an clean energy incentive program, Chevrolet is doing the right thing in building awareness of clean technology among the youth. Also, by retiring the carbon credits and not trading them, we may ensure that the carbon energy is actually saved and is not being used as a commodity to monetize in the lucrative carbon trading market.