Georgia Is Becoming An EV Leader -That’s Good For Our Climate
As a climate scientist and native son of Georgia, I could not be more excited about what is unfolding in my home state. Georgia is rapidly becoming a major player in the Electric Vehicle (EV) production and related infrastructure space. While this is certainly good for the Georgia economy, it is also a win for every inhabitant of Earth. Here’s why I say that.
Georgia’s Governor announced this week that Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) and SK On will build a new EV battery manufacturing facility in Bartow County. Touted as one of the largest economic develop projects in Georgia history, it comes on the heels of other recent major EV-related investments within the state. According to the press release issued by the Governor’s office, investments in EV-related projects since 2020 are around $17 billion and could lead to nearly 23,000 jobs. Earlier in 2022, Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America broke ground on an EV manufacturing facility in Bryan County. In 2021, state officials announced that Rivian would make EV trucks in the state of Georgia. If you take a ride through Northeast Georgia on Interstate 85, it is hard to miss the sprawling SK Battery America facility along the highway in Commerce, Georgia. This facility, when fully operational, will manufacture EV batteries for Ford and Volkswagen.
Growing up in Cherokee County, this “Georgia Boy” remember relatives and family friends making the commute to Doraville, Georgia to work at the old General Motors factory. Ford Motor Company and Kia have also cemented the state footprint in the automotive industry. However, the climate scientist in me is giddy about how the state’s leadership on EVs will help the climate crisis. Scientific evidence is clear. Climate is changing and anthropogenic activities like burning fossil fuels is a major reason why. According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration press release, “Carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory peaked for 2022 at 421 parts per million in May, pushing the atmosphere further into territory not seen for millions of years.”
When I look at the state of Georgia, the fingerprints of climate change are apparent in our valued farming communities and fisheries. Sea level rise threatens are vibrant coastal communities. The impacts of warming, drought, and more intense rainstorms are problematic in our rural and urban communities. For example, Hurricane Michael severely disrupted the agricultural basket of Georgia. Our nation depends on that very region for products made with cotton, peanuts, pecans, poultry, and more. Scientific analyses continue to point to an emerging generation of stronger storms. Cities like Atlanta and Savannah face a triple-whammy of typical Georgia heat, climate change-amplified heatwaves, and urban heat islands. Many of our most vulnerable residents live in urban spaces. Yes, climate and extreme weather varies naturally, but they now have a human steroid on top of it.
The Ray C. Andersen Foundation, in recent years, funded the Drawdown Georgia effort to quantify ways to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. Led by Professor Marilyn Brown at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the project also included scholars from the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Emory University. In 2020, the team released initial findings identifying 20 high-impact climate solutions that are optimal for the state of Georgia. The solutions spanned the sectors of electricity, buildings & materials, transportation, food & agriculture, and land sinks. According to a Drawdown Georgia Blog, “The electricity and transportation sector wedges are the largest on the graph (below) because of the significant impact that solutions like large-scale solar (or solar farms) and energy-efficient trucks are projected to have in the state.”
According to Drawdown Georgia’s website, vehicles produced 41% of the state’s GHG emissions. That is the single largest source. The website goes on to say, “Switching out gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles for electric vehicles, increasing mass transit, and adopting more alternative transportation options will help us dramatically reduce these emissions.” This is why the state of Georgia’s leadership in the EV world is so encouraging. Of course, it has a direct impact on our state’s economic development. However, it is also a downpayment on the well-being of our planet and kids’ future too. We don’t have a Plan B planet. I am about to hop in my EV now to run an errand.