Opinion: Freedom from fossil fuel foreseen

We have endured some epic heat waves, both locally and nationally, during the past several weeks. If the weather wizards are correct, we are now experiencing a sample of what lies ahead. Our triple-digit days have been briefly interrupted when the temperature dipped into the “cool” upper nineties.


Of course, as people never cease to remind me, ours is “dry heat.” The only reason that the last few people to remind me of that fact haven’t been shot is because I don’t think that I’d do well in prison.


I’ve been writing about climate change in this column since 1999. Before that, I addressed the phenomenon in the sociology textbooks that I’ve written. And, global warming is here. The hundreds (and possibly thousands) of heat-related deaths that have occurred in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have not been caused by a “fluke of nature.” They were predictable, and world leaders have been aware of the situation.


In 2016, 191 nations signed the Paris Accords, officially known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2020, but rejoined this year. That pact was preceded by similar attempts to curb global warming in 1997 with the Kyoto Protocol, and before that by agreements reached in Montreal. In all cases, the key to controlling our climate has been the reduction in greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide emitted by internal combustion engines.


Banning fossil fuel cars


Currently, there are at least ten countries that have already taken action to ban the use of automobiles that run on gasoline. So far, the most aggressive plans are aiming to end reliance on fossil-fuel consuming cars by the end of this decade.


Norway, 2025 — Beginning in less than three years, Norway will ban the use of fossil-fuel consuming cars. Moreover, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration has ruled that by 2030, all heavy-duty vans, 75 percent of new long-distance buses, and 50 percent of new trucks must be zero-emission vehicles.


The country will also support climate-control policies by strengthening its “green-tax system.”


India, 2030 — The government of India has introduced policies similar to those of Norway and is striving to allow the sale of only all-electric cars by 2030.


Ireland, 2030 — In 2018, a law was passed to phase out all non-zero-emission cars by 2045. To accomplish this, the country plans to have at least 500,000 electric cars on its roads by 2030, and to stop the sale of all cars that emit greenhouse gases at that time. So, beginning on the first day of the next decade, you won’t be able to buy a fossil-fuel vehicle in or import a non-zero-emission car to the Emerald Isle.


Moreover, to support its effort to help control the degradation of the environment, Ireland has adopted a Renewable Electricity Support Scheme to provide an additional 4,500 megawatts of renewable energy, also by 2030.


Israel, 2030 — The country’s Minister of Energy announced in 2018 that Israel will not allow the importation of cars that run on diesel or gasoline after 2030. All of the nation’s transportation will run on natural gas or electricity.


The Netherlands, 2030 — In October, 2017, the Dutch government proposed a ban on all gas and diesel vehicles by 2030. At Amsterdam International Airport, only electric buses are used to transport travelers between terminals. The country will also phase out the use of hybrid automobiles.


Germany, 2030 — Germany has the fourth largest car manufacturing industry in the world, and its iconic auto makers, like Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen, have been gearing up their hydrogen and electric car efforts for years.


In 2016, the country’s Federal Council passed a resolution to ban all internal combustion engines by 2030.


China, 2040 — In 2016, China surpassed the United States in the production of electric cars, and its goal is to do away with ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles altogether.


China is currently the biggest auto market in the world, and its government announced in 2017 that it will ban the production and sale of ICE cars beginning in 2040.


Taiwan, 2040 — This small, independent island nation off the coast of China is in the process of setting up more than 3,300 battery-charging stations for electric scooters. This is the first step in phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles and curbing air pollution.


Beginning in 2035, the country will ban all non-electric motorcycles and will similarly disallow four-wheel gas and diesel vehicles by 2040.


Great Britain, 2040 — Within the United Kingdom, all emission-producing vehicles will be banned beginning in 2040. This rule applies to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But Scotland gets to jump start the program in 2032.


Additionally, local councils have been granted a little more than $4 billion to combat the country’s poor air quality.


France, 2040 — During the historic Paris Accords, France set a course to significantly change the nation’s climate-change strategy. It will ban all internal-combustion engines beginning in 2040.


Moreover, according the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, the country will gradually phase in a fleet of 2.4 million rechargeable electric and hybrid vehicles in less than two years.


The future


Because the pace of change has been accelerating, drastic measures are now required to prevent future conditions from getting worse. Heat records have already been set in the northeast and northwest of the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia this year. And, at least in the northern hemisphere, we are just at the beginning of our warmest months.


To dismiss 2021 as an anomaly is as erroneous as to dismiss 2020 as a one-time occurrence of a pandemic disease. Viruses are continuing to mutate, and the earth is continuing to warm.


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Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.