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A man looks into a Nissan Leaf electric car plugged into a charging station on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Photo: Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images

The recent pace of emission reductions in New York and New England is insufficient to meet 2050 CO2 emissions targets, set at an 80% reduction from 1990 levels, according to the most recent data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In fact, at recent emission reduction rates, the Northeast region will struggle to make it even halfway to its goal. 

The big picture: While the power sector has made progress, transportation emissions across the Northeast remain stubbornly at or above 1990 levels, and now account for over 40% of all energy-related emissions (e.g., transportation, heating and power generation). Without continued decarbonization of the electric sector, electrification of the transportation sector, and accelerated progress in the heating sector, the Northeast will fall far short of its goal.

In light of the magnitude of the transportation challenge, here are some key initiatives that would help the Northeast meet its 2030 emissions targets:

  1. Deploy 10 million electric passenger cars and light trucks in the next decade, which will effectively require that electric vehicles (EVs) make up all light-duty vehicle sales by 2028. This transformation would build on both the increasing decarbonization of the power sector and the inherent energy efficiency of EVs compared to internal combustion engines.
  2. Advance new zero-carbon options for heavier transport sectors, such as medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleets, with a focus on near-term advances such as electric buses and freight trucks.
  3. Maximize investment in EV charging infrastructure, aligning financial incentives for utilities with public policy to accelerate vehicle adoption.

Across all of these initiatives, EV adoption among consumers will be the crucial component of decarbonization.

  • To speed adoption, cities and towns, in coordination with utilities and other associated stakeholders, should provide ubiquitous and convenient charging options, together with increasingly clean public transit.
  • Automotive companies will need to offer plug-in options at every price point and ensure EV performance equals or exceeds that of conventional vehicles, with charging costs lower or comparable to petroleum-based fuel.

The bottom line: Transportation presents the largest opportunity for the Northeast to reduce carbon emissions in line with its 2050 targets.

Terry Sobolewski is senior vice president and chief customer officer at National Grid.

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Snapchat.

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.