As major automakers join the rising tide of electrification and cities begin to set EV adoption targets and limit the use of emissions-heavy vehicles in their boundaries the slow progression of EVs looks certain to continue. However, as the technology develops—battery life increases and becomes more durable to extreme cold and heat and prices decline to competitive levels—and EVs grow more prominent, we must not forget that usage patterns and attitudes towards ownership are far more crucial to lasting, significant change than mere electrification. At present, the world’s energy supply is still heavily reliant on oil-based production which, consequently, means that while emissions would decrease notably with the switch to electric, they would not disappear. As of 2017, global energy consumption was still heavily based in emissions-producing, non-renewable fuels, only approximately 5% were renewable—according to data complied by Our World in Data. Therefore, the full electrification of the world’s vehicle fleets would only reduce the amount of emissions produced per kilometer driven, not eliminate them altogether.

This all implies that the true focus needs to be on changing habits and attitudes towards ownership, rather than merely focusing on a technological solution to our dilemma. The central shift necessary here is to move from a culture of ownership to one of sharing, replacing a majority of the trips made alone with shared or mass transit alternatives. This focus characterizes a program initiated by the City of Sacramento in California which supplements its goal of becoming America’s leading EV city, supported by a $44 million program, with a broad plan to overhaul transportation through means as varied as on-demand micro-transit shuttles, EV sharing programs, and advanced cycling and pedestrian programs.

Its programs like these that reflect a necessary shift that will take us towards a truly sustainable future and avoid the trap of technology-reliant paths

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.