Andrea McGimsey charges her plug-in hybrid electric vehicle at Daniels Run Peace Church.
Electric vehicle (EV) owners, climate activists and concerned citizens gathered Saturday morning at the Environment Virginia Car Show to discuss the future of transportation and how Fairfax County can lead the state in the transition to electric vehicles.
The event offered Virginians the opportunity to experience EVs first hand with a variety of electric vehicles available to check out in front of Daniels Run Peace Church. Electric vehicle charging stations, which are located on the church’s premises and are powered by rooftop solar panels, were also on display.
In addition, representatives from the community as well as EV, climate and health experts discussed how EVs dramatically reduce carbon emissions, enhance air quality and save consumers money on fuel and maintenance. Speakers explained how EVs are essential in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, which is necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
“When I was in medical school, did I think that my career in medicine would involve me talking about the climate crisis? No,” said Dr. Neelu Tummala, a Fairfax County-based physician and George Washington University professor who spoke at the event. “But when I started seeing patients who were affected by air pollution or suffering from extreme heat, it is hard to ignore.”
Other speakers, who included Joe Rupp, climate advocate for Environment Virginia, Army veteran and Climate Reality leader Paula Clements and church congregant Johnny Wen, also called on Virginia and Fairfax County leaders to start prioritizing electrifying transportation in order to stave off the worst impacts of global warming.
“We must speed the electrification of our transportation system, and we need officials in Fairfax County to lead the way,” said Joe Rupp, climate advocate with Environment Virginia. “As home to 1 in 8 Virginians and with an annual operating budget of nearly $4.3 billion, Fairfax can spur this transition more effectively than any other jurisdiction in the state. For the sake of our climate, our air and our health, the transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles cannot happen fast enough.”
The transportation sector is the biggest contributor of carbon emissions in Virginia, accounting for 45.5 percent of all carbon emissions in 2016. As Northern Virginia continues to grow year after year, Fairfax County has an opportunity to lead the state in EV investment and adoption.
Some Fairfax County locals already recognize this importance and have begun addressing this issue.
“About two years ago, the Daniels Run Peace Church council embarked on a mission to reduce the church’s carbon footprint,” said Wen, a congregant of the church who organized the effort to install EV charging stations. “The church invested in installing EV chargers to not only provide an amenity to greater Fairfax, but also as a means for the community to take advantage of the electrons produced right on our rooftop.”