The pandemic may reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time, lead to a spike in the sale of electric cars. No doubt, many of us find this a refreshing change from the usual COVID-19 news. It’s nice to know there’s a silver lining to this worldwide coronavirus cloud despite the illness, death, unemployment, and depression, not to mention the disruptions to our children’s education.
It seems that back in March, when residents of the San Francisco Bay Area were locked down by a mandatory shelter-in-place regulation, Ron Cohen of UC Berkeley, realized he had the perfect incubator for an experiment, already in place. Cohen had already installed a network of pollution sensors in area neighborhoods. Now, he noted, something interesting was happening as a result of the lockdown: Cohen’s sensors showed that carbon dioxide emissions plummeted 25 percent over the next six weeks following the stay-at-home orders. The obvious reason? A 48% reduction in traffic.
No car, trucks, or buses? Almost no road traffic to speak of? These conditions translate to a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
As lockdown conditions eased, emissions have gone up, increasing steadily over time. But the substantial reduction in those emissions during quarantine prove that more widespread use of electric cars would no doubt reduce the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. The state of California, has, in fact, set in place a gradual reduction, leading to a ban sales of gas-powered vehicles by the year 2035.
Meanwhile, in Norway
Norway, on the other hand, is well on its way to phasing out gas-powered cars already. A recent report shows that over half of all new cars purchased in Norway, are electric. As it turns out, Norway is the first country in the world to reach the 50 percent mark in terms of electric car sales when it comes to sales of new cars, overall.
This is a stunning achievement for Norway, in which electric vehicles accounted for 54.3 percent of all new car sales in 2020, up from 42.4 percent, one year earlier. The four most popular picks? Buyers like the Volkswagen/Audi e-tron, the Tesla Model 3, the Volkswagen ID.3, and the Nissan Leaf. All of these cars are fully electric. Coming in at fifth place is the Volkswagen Golf.
And of course, statistics always need to be seen in context. In December, the final month of the year, new car buyers chose electric cars over gas-powered alternatives, a stunning 66.7 percent of the time. Norway’s example is a tough act to follow, but as the pandemic wears on, we may just catch up, especially in terms of emissions reductions. Let’s hope, anyway. We could all use a bit of good news.