The people of Mexico City are used to watching the mountains surrounding the city fade into the smoggy afternoons. The snow-capped volcanoes give way to a grey haze that envelops their days. The high-altitude air strains under the weight of the pollution, and the world feels a little more sluggish. People check the air quality like they check the weather report, and millions of evening jogs or bicycle rides are regularly foregone because of the persistent pollution. It is yet another reminder that humans the world over struggle to be good stewards of our shared resources, especially those we consider to be freely accessible and infinite – like the air we breathe.
Supported by a Tinker Foundation and CLAS-funded research grant, I came to Mexico City this past summer for the first time to explore ways that decision-makers could structure investment in vehicle electrification (e.g., electric buses, cars, and associated infrastructure) with an eye to addressing environmental justice challenges.