As part of the City’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2035, San Luis Obispo’s mayor designated this week as Drive Electric Week.
Drive Electric Week is a national event aimed at raising “awareness of the many benefits of all-electric and plug-in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more,” according to the organization website. Cities across the country also hold their local Drive Electric Week.
The San Luis Obispo event will take place from Sept. 28 through Oct. 3 and will be completely virtual due to COVID-19. There will be events everyday, including seven separate virtual electric vehicle test drives and discussion panels from electric vehicle users. The test drives will be offered in both English and Spanish.
Mayor Heidi Harmon, who regularly uses an electric bike, said that 50 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the city are the result of transportation, according to a press release.
The week-long event is intended to educate the community, especially commuters, about electric vehicles by addressing misinformation and bringing in local electric vehicle drivers to speak on their experiences, according to Green Transportation Specialist for SLO Climate Coalition Barry Rands. Rands has been driving an electric car for seven years.
“Electric vehicles are fun to drive, they have low maintenance and there’s a lot of benefits, including benefits for the climate and reducing carbon emissions,” Rands said.
Rands did say that he has received negative feedback from the community via Facebook regarding his desire to see more electric vehicle transportation here.
Although the climate action plan that San Luis Obispo has implemented is “the most ambitious in the nation,” according to the city website, Rands said that San Luis Obispo is really a “drop in the bucket” when it comes to fighting climate change. However, he said he believes that cities around the world can make a large impact together.
“I see San Luis Obispo’s role as being a leader and a model for what cities can do in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Rands said. “If other cities look to us, then we’ve made a drop in the bucket a huge ripple.”
According to the U.N. Environment Program website, cities may be responsible for 75 percent of carbon emissions in the world. The largest concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. comes from transportation at 28 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Drive Electric Week comes three days after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that will ban the sale of gasoline run cars in the state by 2035.
Transportation accounts for 50 percent of carbon emissions in the state of California, according to the press release.
The press release also said that the executive order is intended to move the state away from reliance on fossil fuels.
“Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines,” Newsom said in the press release.
Rands said he thought the executive order was a good move, but cited low rebates, low prices and increased performance of electric vehicles as reasons why the order might not even matter.
“Personally, I am so thrilled about electric cars and the advances that are being made that I don’t think it’s going to be necessary,” Rands said.
Harmon will host the first virtual Electric Drive Week event on Monday on the topic of electric bikes, with the owner of Foothill Cyclery.
The event is free, and registration is necessary to attend. The link to sign up is https://driveelectricweek.org/event?eventid=2504 and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/drive-electric-week-slo-tickets-121883054497.