The New American Road Trip is an 11 day, more than 2,900-mile journey with an electric vehicle from San Francisco to New York’s 10th Climate Week and the One Planet Summit to inform and discuss with the public the Call to Global Climate Action issued from the Global Climate Action Summit.

Road Trip Update: From a Past Built on Coal and Oil to a Future Being Built on Renewable Energy, Innovation and High-Tech—Meet Mayor Bill Peduto and the People of Pittsburgh

By Nick Nuttall, Global Climate Action Summit

25 September 2018—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, set in one of America’s great industrial heartlands that in the 19th century drilled the world’s first oil well, was the location for the New American Road Trip’s sixth and almost final major event.

Our resident in-car comedian JC Coccoli, born and bred in the ‘steel city’, was the event’s warm-up act and master of ceremonies.

In-between humor and storytelling, she paused for a philosophical moment, before inviting Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to the stage.

“When it comes to fighting climate change, we don’t have to pit against one another—between Democrat and Republican or Libertarian—because it is the planet that matters. It maybe sounds a bit ‘Los Angeles’ or ‘hippy’, but it is not. It’s about everybody across America finding solutions, which they are doing: that’s one of the things I’ve learnt on this Road Trip,” she said.

Mayor Peduto first talked about the Global Climate Action Summit, whose outcomes the Road Trip has been bringing to states across America and tomorrow into the 10th Climate Week in New York.

“I had the great pleasure last week to be in California where we gathered as a world and we looked at the problems associated with climate change, and we did not panic,” he said.

“Yes, as cities we need to now put resilience into all of our plans for the foreseeable future. But we also realized there is a new dynamic in play—we are at the cusp of one of the greatest manufacturing and industrial revolutions this country could possibly see,” said Mayor Peduto.

He noted that Pittsburgh had been at the centre of the first industrial revolution after discoveries of big seams of coal along the Monongahela River in the 18th century.

And then oil, where in the 19th century, the world’s first oil well was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania followed by Pittsburgh itself building the first still to refine crude oil into kerosene for lighting.

“But we also know that our future doesn’t have to be wedded to our past,” said Mayor Peduto.

He said that Pittsburgh had, for some 35 years, been transforming into a modern, high tech hub as a result of its universities, its entrepreneurs and local leadership.

“And today in Allegheny County, we are seeing more people employed in renewable energy than coal, oil and gas combined,” said Mayor Peduto.

Some 12 years ago the city worked to bring trades unions like the United Steel Workers together with environmental NGOs like the Sierra Club to forge the Blue-Green Alliance to unite common interests and move forward together.

Mayor Peduto said they were building “new opportunities for people in a new economy that will give them hope and a chance to succeed” so that instead of reopening mines or old factories the city and can rebuild factories in a new way, to make climate friendly products that can benefit the people of Pennsylvania “and the entire world at the same time”.

Joe Dematteo of Duquesne Light said the power company was pressing forward with EVs adding that in 2019, “20 percent of our fleet spend will be towards more electric vehicles”.

At the end we awarded two local groups with prizes. Solar Rides is promoting solar-powered electric transportation with an emphasis on cycles but also skate boards.

Adam Rossi from the company said: “Electric bicycles are the most efficient forms of transport. You get 1,000 to 2,000 miles to the gallon equivalent”.

The other winner was CommutePitt—part of the University of Pittsburgh. Kevin Sheehy Director of Parking Transportation and Services said they plan to use the proceeds to help pay for a new charging station.

Next stop; New York City. But also time for a group photo of most of the New American Road Trip team including the film, media and logistics team before disbanding—awesome guys!

The New American Road Trip is being organized by Purpose with support from foundations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Hewlett Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the IKEA Foundation and Climate Works Foundation. Follow the progress of the road trip online here.

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