A sustainable future is what Arizonans deserve. We must recommit ourselves to protecting our beloved state, its people and workforce. Fortunately, through science and technological breakthroughs, there are solutions available to drastically cut carbon emissions, while spurring Arizona’s local economy. It will take bold leadership from both the public and private sectors to enact strong, sound policies in order to accomplish these goals.
The United States is eyeing a transition to sustainable energy, electric vehicle adoption, and making climate change a key issue in domestic and foreign policy. Earlier this year, the U.S. rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change and will set new targets to limit harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Just last month the federal administration announced its plans to make an ambitious push for a national clean energy standard, a major stimulus for electric vehicles, a revamped power grid, and investing in new jobs to help workers dislocated by the transition.
At the local level, states and cities across the nation are also setting their own climate goals, car manufacturers are committing to more electric vehicle production, large corporations are making commitments to going carbon neutral, and companies like Amazon and FedEx will soon make their deliveries using electric fleets. It’s one of the reasons that we support the 2030 District Challenge For Planning and joined Arizona Thrives. We are committed to working together, across our state, in a way that works for Arizona.
In Arizona, we have an abundance of natural resources, making our state a prime location for becoming the nation’s leader in clean energy production. And it’s not just big corporate companies leading the way to a clean future, as many of our state’s locally-owned small businesses are leading the charge, making commitments to business practices that promote carbon neutrality to clean up our state’s air.
Local First Arizona members are committing to running their businesses while reducing their carbon pollution. Support through our programs such as SCALE UP and the Arizona Green Business Certification ensure that larger carbon pollution reduction goals are met. This is also possible on a larger scale with the support of our leaders and enacting climate policies that will help businesses adopt sustainable practices.
SCALE UP (Sustainable Communities Accessing Lending and Expertise Upon Performance) is an award-winning program that offers a comprehensive seven-week workshop series for locally-owned and operated independent businesses and nonprofits in the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas. Supported by the state of Arizona, each cohort offers the unique opportunity for businesses to go from education and collaboration to planning, financing, benchmarking and implementation in one accessible package. With Covid, SCALE UP is an opportunity to re-build with an emphasis on equity and sustainability.
Our transition to a more sustainable future is a catalyst for economic growth. We have a growing electric-vehicle manufacturing base in the state anchored by Lucid Motors, a maker of high-performance luxury cars, and Nikola Corp. for heavy duty trucks in Pinal County. UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries is planning to establish a factory in Flagstaff to supply electric-vehicle manufacturers, while ElectraMeccanica Vehicles announced it will build an assembly and engineering center in Mesa. Recent analysis shows that on average, electric vehicles adopted through 2030 are estimated to add $4,100 per vehicle to the local economy.
The federal government is considering up to $2 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways and bridges, and investing in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s critical that Arizona’s entire congressional delegation leverage any potential federal funding to only grow our state’s clean energy economy.
Michael Peel and Peter Dobrovolny are founders of Tucson 2030 District and Peel is the Statewide Sustainability Director for Local First Arizona.