People of color are as interested in buying electric cars as white consumers – the biggest obstacle is access to charging

More EV charging hookups in public locations like garages and parking lots would prompt more drivers of color to buy EVs. Extreme Media via Getty Images

by Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, The New School

A nationally representative survey of 8,027 Americans shows that across all racial demographics, overall interest in purchasing electric vehicles is high. Among those surveyed, 33% of white respondents, 38% of Black respondents, 43% of Latinos and 52% of Asian Americans say they would “definitely” or “seriously consider” purchasing or leasing an EV as their next vehicle.

The survey was conducted by Consumer Reports, with input from the nonprofit advocacy groups GreenLatinos, the Union of Concerned Scientists and EVNoire and administered between Jan. 27 and Feb. 18, 2022, by NORC at the University of Chicago, an objective, nonpartisan research organization.

Electric vehicles are critical for reducing transportation emissions, but communities of color currently adopt this key technology at lower rates than white drivers. This survey, for which I was an adviser, helps to shed light on some of the reasons for this disparity.

Cleaner air for all

Air pollution in the U.S. disproportionately affects communities of color. To take just one statistic, Latino children are about three times more likely than non-Hispanic white children to live in a county where air pollution levels exceed federal air quality standards.

Transportation is a major source of harmful air pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides. These compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog, which can cause or worsen many types of respiratory diseases.

Motor vehicles also emit soot and toxic compounds. Because of these pollutants, people who live near roadways are at elevated risk of ailments including heart disease, impaired lung development in children, preterm and low-birthweight infants, childhood leukemia and premature death.

Transportation is also the largest source of global warming emissions in the United States. Light-duty passenger cars and trucks contribute 58% of transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Weather-related events such as heat waves, air pollution and flooding can be exacerbated by climate change and disproportionately harm U.S. communities of color.

Climate change is taking a disproportionate toll on low-income and minority communities across the U.S.

Where can we plug in?

Ours was the first consumer-oriented survey to analyze barriers to EV adoption along racial demographic lines. The goal is to help policymakers and advocates better understand why Black and Latino consumers are buying fewer EVs than white consumers and what concerns explain this gap.

We found that charging EVs at home – the most affordable way to charge EVs today – is not an equally viable option for all communities, particularly those with higher proportions of renters or multifamily dwellings. People who own their homes can much more easily have EV charging equipment installed on the premises and use it to charge their cars safely and conveniently overnight.

In our survey, nearly 75% of white respondents owned their homes, compared with fewer than 50% of Black respondents and slightly over 50% of Latino respondents. Multi-unit dwellings, such as apartment buildings, often do not offer EV charging for residents. We found that increasing affordable, accessible and reliable public EV charging infrastructure in safe locations would address all of these groups’ biggest concerns about EV charging.

The survey findings also suggest that improving access to financing and incentives for both new and used EVs would help to accelerate EV adoption.

Getting the message out

Our results show that increasing access to EVs is a key way to educate communities about the benefits of driving them. But it’s not clear yet how to create education and engagement initiatives that focus on Black and Latino consumers and target their specific needs and concerns.

Finding better ways to include Black and Latino communities in the EV transition is important because it can help to address gaps and mitigate systemic barriers to adoption and achieve environmental justice.

Providing help and incentives for apartments and condominiums to install EV chargers will help reduce barriers to widespread EV adoption. Our survey showed that Black and Latino drivers are more likely to use public or on-street parking, so incentives to support the build-out of publicly accessible charging infrastructure are also critical.

Purchase incentives that are more accessible and target buyers at more income levels will bring EVs within reach for more people. For example, tax credits could be made refundable, allowing people without sufficient tax liability to still take advantage of the credit, or incentives could be made available at the point of sale.

We plan further research that can identify ways to overcome the barriers spotlighted in this survey and help create a just and clean transportation future for all.

Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Adjunct Lecturer in Urban Studies, The New School

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Towns may grow millions more trees with $1.5B for urban forestry

Read the full story at Stateline.

States and cities across the country are beginning to embrace trees as critical infrastructure in urban areas. Neighborhoods with tree cover are significantly cooler than exposed areas known as “heat islands,” which can affect human health and utility bills. Urban forests absorb stormwater runoff, filter pollution from the air and sequester carbon.

As climate change threatens to bring increased heat waves, flooding and severe weather to many communities, some leaders are looking to trees as a potential solution. Some regions have been scrambling to restore urban forests that have been decimated by pests such as the emerald ash borer. And much like foresters in the Evergreen State, they may suddenly have more funding to help those efforts take root.

The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this month by President Joe Biden, includes $1.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which supports efforts ranging from big cities to small communities. Agency leaders say the funding, which will be allotted through competitive grants, will be focused on reaching neighborhoods that lack green infrastructure and are bearing the brunt of climate change.

The blueprint we already have for building a resilient, green economy

Read the full story at Governing.

The biggest federal climate, clean energy and environmental justice commitment in history is an unprecedented opportunity. The ideas contained in cities’ and companies’ environmental disclosures are a treasure trove to guide policymakers.

Enhancing the city’s role as a carbon sink: the San Francisco experience

Read the full story in Canadian Architect.

What is a “carbon sink,” and how can it help us fight climate change? Carbon sinks act like sponges that soak up more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. We define the process by which we remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as “carbon sequestration.” The most effective carbon sinks use our natural systems (i.e., forests, wetlands, agricultural lands and coastal ecosystems), but buildings also play an essential role. To achieve net-zero by 2040, we need to consider carbon sinks as a means to amplify our efforts to reduce emissions, and we need to measure the efficacy of carbon sinks because good data supports meaningful policy and design.

Resilient Land Use Cohort to explore climate adaptation strategies

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

The Urban Land Institute announced this week that five of its district councils around the U.S. will explore a variety of potential climate adaptation strategies through its Resilient Land Use Cohort. The cohort program provides a forum for technical assistance and information sharing on resilience best practices.

Participating district councils will bring together community representatives and ULI’s network of real estate and land use experts. The forthcoming group follows an initial round of the program in 2020.

Colorado will focus on wildfire recovery and enhancing community resilience and affordability; Los Angeles will look into the development of a resilience hub network; New Orleans will consider scaling green infrastructure solutions; New York will center on advancing resilient retrofit policies and incentives; and Philadelphia will explore land swaps for homes in flood zones.

Rotterdam uses smart tech to ‘save city from drowning’

Read the full story at Corporate Knights.

About four-fifths of the Dutch port is below sea level, but a blue-green roofing grid and other smart city technology might help keep Rotterdam flood proof.

Depave Chicago joins national movement to reclaim paradise from parking lots: ‘It’s really about a transformation’

Read the full story from WTTW.

A grassroots “depaving” movement that originated in Portland, Oregon, is slowly spreading across the country, with communities ripping up strips of asphalt and concrete to make way for pocket parks, gardens and nature play spaces. Affiliates of Depave Portland have popped up in cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Nashville, forming a loose network that is now being joined by Chicago.

Mary Pat McGuire, associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois, is leading the Chicago program under the umbrella of her Water Lab.

Nature-based solutions generate greener urban renewal

Read the full story in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation magazine.

While nature is good for the body and mind, nature-based solutions are being adopted into urban renewal projects to mitigate the effects of climate change and create healthier communities.

Urban runoff threatens water quality. Infrastructure changes could help.

Read the full story from WUNC.

It’s storm season, and that means flood season.

When it rains, water sheets off the roofs, parking lots, and roads that cover an increasing portion of the landscape. To avoid flooding, city infrastructure focuses on moving all that water into pipes and streams, getting it downstream and out of town as fast as possible. But the current standard for dealing with stormwater makes pollution worse for everything and everyone depending on urban streams, including the people who get their drinking water from farther down the river.

As cities continue to develop at lightning speed, washing our problems down the river becomes an increasingly unsustainable prospect.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Technical Assistance Guide

Download the document.

This guide provides a list of over 65 technical assistance resources and programs across the federal government to help communities deliver infrastructure projects. The guide is organized by types infrastructure investments such as transportation, clean energy and power, high-speed internet, water, resilience, and environmental remediation. The guide also highlights a number of “place-based” initiatives focused on specific communities and geographies as well as generally applicable technical assistance resources. For each of these programs, the guide includes a description of the program, eligible participants, and information on how to get in touch.