Images of clear skies and thriving ecosystems have filled social media in response to recent transportation slowdowns, an unexpected benefit of the lockdown that has impacted so many. Cities like Los Angeles or New Delhi have seen their skies clouded by pollution for many years, until recently. The clearer skies have both residents and scientists wondering what it would take to make this brief respite from pollution permanent. A switch to the renewable energy of electric vehicles has the potential to do just that.
The reduction of pollution can be demonstrated beyond just the images we have seen on Twitter or Facebook. A decrease in traffic has led to lower levels of pollution, especially in metropolitan areas. Manhattan reported a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and methane emissions, as well as a dramatic 50 percent decrease in carbon monoxide. In China, NASA detected that nitrogen dioxide— a noxious gas emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities— decreased as much as 30 percent during their recent lockdown.
As such, the blue skies that city-dwellers are currently witnessing should be seen not as a silver lining, but as a wake-up call. Economies around the world have begun to re-open, and if everyone returns to their fuel-burning vehicles and normal routines, our skies will regress back to the gray, polluted shades of life before lockdown. There is hope for a future with bluer skies, though.
Expanding electric vehicle usage and charging networks is just one renewable solution with the potential to permanently reduce air pollution. “We have to recognize that in this crisis there is an opportunity for learning,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols.
At Volta, these clear blue skies are a reminder of our mission, as well as inspiration to continue working to inspire change by providing seamless, simple and free charging experiences. To date, Volta has offset almost 30 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by powering over 67 million free electric miles. In the past week alone, our nationwide network has had the equivalent environmental impact of planting a new tree every eight minutes.
Volta has spent the last ten years building a system that will help bring about blue skies for good. Our innovative charging infrastructure provides drivers with the power they need and inspires others to join the electric vehicle revolution. As Volta continues to add more stations at more locations where people spend their time, we are ready — for the one million electric vehicles on the road today, and for the 20 million to come in the next ten years.