The world is turning away from fossil fuels. Britain, France, and China have announced plans to phase out gasoline vehicles, and Norway, the Netherlands, and India also plan to ban gas-only cars in the coming years. Cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Mexico City, Vancouver, Barcelona, Milan, Cape Town, and Auckland have pledged to ban gas and diesel cars by 2030.

Even if the federal government in the United States doesn’t take action, states could move to encourage electric vehicles or even ban petroleum-powered cars. It’s not as far-fetched as it may have sounded a few years ago. A California assemblyman, Phil Ting, plans to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars after 2040.

In New Jersey electrifying the state’s transportation system — the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions — is shaping up as a top priority in January when a new legislature and governor take office.

How best for New Jersey to move beyond a petroleum-based transportation sector? NJ Spotlight is holding a panel discussion nf this question on Thursday, December 14, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hamilton. For more information, visit www.njspotlight.org.

The event is sponsored by organizations including ChargEVC, an advocacy group that promotes electric cars. The group has the ambitious goal of building 600 fast charging stations in the state by 2020 and having 90 percent of all new car sales be electric vehicles by 2040. Eliminating “range anxiety” — the fear of being stranded in a car with a dead battery — is a big part of the campaign.

The campaign notes that electric vehicles are a good way to reduce greenhouse gases since traveling a mile in an electric car is about 70 percent cleaner (and substantially less costly) than an equivalent trip in a conventional vehicle.

Panelists include: James B. Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers; Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson, chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee; Pamela Frank, CEO, of ChargEVC; Karen R. Lefkowitz, vice president, of Utility of the Future and Pepco Holdings (an Exelon Company); and Kevin George Miller, director of public policy at ChargePoint.

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