On Monday morning, we awoke to a highly anticipated, but alarming, landmark report. The United Nations’ climate panel issued a “code red for humanity'' stemming from the severe threat of human-caused climate change. The report makes clear that without massive reductions in carbon emissions, we will not meet the critical threshold of keeping global temperatures under 1.5 degrees C of pre-industrial levels — a tipping point that scientists believe is crucial to preventing irreversible damage to our planet. To put it bluntly, man-made actions are bringing Earth to the brink of a climate catastrophe.

If there’s one conclusion to draw from this report, it's that we need to make drastic changes to the way we live and consume immediately. One of the biggest contributors to the global climate crisis is transportation, which makes up 15% to 20% of all carbon emissions globally and 29% of those in the U.S., where the bulk of those emissions stem from cars, trucks, and SUVs.

While most of the global policy effort to date has focused on a shift from gas to electric cars, the inconvenient truth is that electrifying cars alone will not solve carbon pollution coming from transportation. This is because cars consume so much energy due to being enormously heavy — the average car weighs over 4,000 pounds. The bulk of the energy used to move these two-ton tanks — frankly, an overkill in machinery when carrying, for example, a 200-pound human — comes from nonrenewable sources. Not to mention the fact that electric cars often require environmentally damaging mining of rare earth minerals for batteries and carbon-intensive manufacturing to produce.

If we’re going to fundamentally address climate change, then we need to have an honest conversation about reducing our reliance on personal cars and trucks. Indeed, the time for half-measures is over. In 2021 alone, we’ve seen catastrophic floods in northern Europe, the second-largest wildfire ever in California, unheard-of 120 degree F weather in Canada, droughts in central Asia — and the list goes on. Without a drastic change to the way we move in our cities, commensurate with the threat we face, our lives and the lives of future generations will be forever altered. This is not a wake-up call; it’s a five-alarm fire.

Read the full article about curbing climate change by Wayne Ting at Smart Cities Dive.