Charlottesville, Albemarle County officials support climate change legislation

Charlottesville, Albemarle County officials support climate change legislation

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new bill moving forward in the Virginia General Assembly is working to battle climate change, and it has lots of support across the Commonwealth, including in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Several cities and counties in Virginia, representing over a million residents, have signed a letter from the Community Climate Collaborative urging the passing of HB1965.

The bill would require a small percentage of each car manufacturer’s sales be electric or hybrid vehicles. Advocates say that small percentage would have a large impact.

“About half of the state’s emissions come from transportation and most of those come from the vehicles that we drive every day,” said Susan Kruse, the executive director of the Community Climate Collaborative.

Among the governing bodies that signed the letter were the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

“We’re trying to get to low and zero-emission vehicles and this worked beautifully with our climate action plan,” said Albemarle County Supervisor Diantha McKeel.

The plan that McKeel is talking about has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 45% by 2030. The City of Charlottesville has the same goal in its own climate plan.

Kruse says this bill will make it easier to reach those goals.

“Low or zero-emission vehicles are the best way to reduce your own personal transportation footprint,” she said.

Eleven other states have already implemented a similar measure. Kruse says in those states, the sales of eco-friendly vehicles have increased. She foresees the same thing here in Virginia.

“It can be difficult to access electric vehicles in the state of Virginia, and we have many dealerships who want to sell them but they simply have a hard time getting them from the manufacturers,” she said.

If Virginia does adopt the legislation and manufacturers do send more electric vehicles to the Commonwealth, the next step is encouraging drivers to buy them.

McKeel says it can be a way for Albemarle County to be a leader against climate change.

“I would hope that a lot of those drivers that are driving 12-year-old vehicles will think about purchasing a new vehicle and updating their vehicles to more efficient,” she said.

In a statement to C3, Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Sena Magill said: “Municipalities across the Commonwealth are setting aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead on climate. A significant portion of emissions in every community come from the cars we drive. By acting this year to set improved standards for zero and low emission vehicles in Virginia, the General Assembly will be supporting the hard work cities and counties are doing to reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

The bill is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, January 27 by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee.

Del. Sally Hudson, a Democrat who represents the 57th district covering Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, is on that committee.

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