Memo To The Auto Industry: Time To Join California And Leaders Opposing Trump Clean Cars Rollback

Read full Forbes article here

When four auto companies representing 30% of the U.S. car market announced they reached a clean cars compromise with California regulators after months of negotiations, they may have found the light at the end of a tortuous tunnel that began more than two years ago. Now that Ford, Honda, VW, and BMW are accelerating toward a cleaner future, it’s time for the other automakers to join this agreement

…The new California agreement would take industry fuel efficiency to around 50 mpg in 2026, vs. the Obama era rules which targeted 51 mpg in 2025, significantly more than the [Trump’s] SAFE rule’s proposed 37 mpg. It would eliminate costly industry uncertainty and align automakers with the very certain direction the rest of the world has moved toward since Trump’s announcement in 2017: much more stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas targets.

Ellie’s note: Good work by CA with automakers but 50 mpg by 2026 is not enough to meet what the climate science and reality are telling us. We must phase out fossil fuel powered cars sooner to secure a safe climate. The EU is further ahead but still needs to do more- “vehicles have to effectively achieve around 57 mpg” starting in January and new rules would reduce CO2 emissions by almost 40% by 2030 from 2021 levels with cars getting 90 mpg. Around 35% of new EU car sales are expected to be EVs by 2030.

415.26 parts per million: CO2 levels hit historic milestone, highest in 3 million years; first time in human history

Getting back to around 350 ppm is required for a safe climate to sustain life as we know it on Earth. The last four years were the four hottest on record and, in spite of the Paris deal and increasing public awareness of the problem, mankind continues to break its own emissions records, year on year.

Read full PhysOrg post here

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which has tracked atmospheric CO2 levels since the late 1950s, on Saturday morning detected 415.26 parts per million (ppm)….

The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much CO2 was more than three million years ago, when global sea levels were several metres higher and parts of Antarctica were blanketed in forest.

“It shows that we are not on track with protecting the climate at all. The number keeps rising and it’s getting higher year after year,” Wolfgang Lucht, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), told AFP. It was also the first time on record that the observatory measured a daily baseline above 415 ppm….

….The 2015 Paris Agreement calls on humanity to block the rise in Earth’s temperature at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels, and 1.5C if possible. ….Earth’s average surface temperature has already increased 1.0C since pre-industrial times due to man-made emissions.

U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending

The world would be richer and healthier if the full costs of fossil fuels were paid, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund. The authors found that if fossil fuels had been fairly priced in 2015, global carbon emissions would have been slashed by 28 percent. Deaths from fossil fuel-linked air pollution would have dropped by nearly half. Fossil fuel subsidies were nearly 10 times what Congress spent on education. Broken down to an individual level, fossil fuel subsidies cost every man, woman and child in the United States $2,028 that year.

by Tim Dickinson Read full Rolling Stone article here

The United States has spent more subsidizing fossil fuels in recent years than it has on defense spending, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found that direct and indirect subsidies for coal, oil and gas in the U.S. reached $649 billion in 2015. Pentagon spending that same year was $599 billion.

The study defines “subsidy” very broadly, as many economists do. It accounts for the “differences between actual consumer fuel prices and how much consumers would pay if prices fully reflected supply costs plus the taxes needed to reflect environmental costs” and other damage, including premature deaths from air pollution….

The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World

The key political advantage [of] performance standards – [they] focus voters on the end goal, rather than on the technocratic mechanism for achieving it. Carbon pricing puts attention on the mechanism, be it a dreaded tax or a byzantine cap-and-trade system. Mechanisms don’t inspire people. 

by David Leonhardt Read full NY Times Magazine story here

…When a product becomes more expensive, people use less of it. Carbon pricing is an elegant mechanism by which market economics can work on behalf of the climate rather than against it….

….As Nordhaus acknowledged in his speech, curbing dirty energy by raising its price “may be good for nature, but it’s not actually all that attractive to voters to reduce their income.” … Climate change may be an existential crisis, but in their day-to-day lives, many people are more worried about the problems created by the most obvious solution than by climate change itself. …

…The province of British Columbia enacted a carbon tax in 2008, and it has worked well. It includes a clever provision to reduce political opposition: Every dollar that is raised is returned to families and businesses through tax credits. An all-star roster of Nobel laureates and former Republican and Democratic presidential appointees — including Treasury Secretaries George Shultz and Lawrence Summers and the Federal Reserve chiefs Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan — recently signed a joint statement in favor of a similar carbon tax for the United States. But it remains a long shot in this era of government distrust. …

….The financial crisis and its aftermath intensified many families’ economic problems. Income growth has since been sluggish. Amazingly, the wealth of the median American household has fallen 30 percent since 2007, according to the most recent Federal Reserve data, making higher energy costs an even harder sell. The second change is political. A decade ago, there was reason to think that carbon pricing could be bipartisan…

…The key political advantage is that performance standards focus voters on the end goal, rather than on the technocratic mechanism for achieving it. Carbon pricing puts attention on the mechanism, be it a dreaded tax or a byzantine cap-and-trade system. Mechanisms don’t inspire people. Mechanisms are easy to caricature as big-government bureaucracy. Think about the debate over Obamacare: When the focus was on mechanisms — insurance mandates, insurance exchanges and the like — the law was not popular. When the focus shifted to basic principles — Do sick people deserve health insurance? — the law became much more so….

…In Nevada, the measure did get on the ballot, and the campaign in favor of it has some lessons for winning future fights. The messages were simple and powerful. They focused on the immediate benefits from clean-energy use, like fewer health problems, lower medical costs and more jobs that pay well. …

….The better bet seems to be an “all of the above” approach: Organize a climate movement around meaningful policies with a reasonable chance of near-term success, but don’t abandon the hope of carbon pricing…
Eventually, Americans may decide to punish politicians who deny or play down climate change. By the time a price on carbon took effect, it might not be so unpopular anymore. But we can’t wait for the politics to change to begin taking action.

Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It

Read NPR coverage here

Plastic garbage from Trader Joe’s and an AARP card are peeking out of hillocks of plastic trash piling up in Indonesia. It’s a sign of a new global quandary: What should wealthy countries do with their plastic waste now that China no longer is buying it?

For years, America sold millions of tons of used yogurt cups, juice containers, shampoo bottles and other kinds of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products.And it wasn’t just the U.S. Some 70 percent of the world’s plastic waste went to China – about 7 million tons a year.

Numerous Chinese millionaires were minted as recycling businesses started and blossomed. Sure, they paid for the world’s plastic and paper trash, but they made far more money from processing it and selling the resulting raw materials.

But last year the Chinese government dropped a bombshell on the world recycling business: It cut back almost all imports of trash. And now a lot of that plastic gets shipped to other countries that don’t have the capacity to recycle it or dispose of it safely….

About ‘The Plastic Tide’

NPR is exploring one of the most important environmental issues of our time: plastic waste. Click here to read more about the topic.

Shifting away from coal and keeping nuclear are key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions

Read ScienceDaily coverage here

  1. Anasis et al. Optimal energy resource mix for the US and China to meet emissions pledgesApplied Energy, 2019; 238: 92 DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.01.072

The United States could fulfill its greenhouse gas emission pledge under the Paris Climate Agreement by virtually eliminating coal as an energy source by 2024, according to new research.

….The researchers said eliminating coal as an energy source was the most significant step for the U.S. to meet its emissions target. As a result, the U.S. would need shift to an energy portfolio based on natural gas, efficiency, wind, solar power and biofuels, with oil used predominately for transportation fuel.

In the best of all worlds, nuclear power also would be part of the mix. The authors state that 12 new nuclear power plants would have to be built by 2025 to cost efficiently make up for the loss of coal, but that the goals could be reached without them at only a slightly higher cost….

CO2 emissions in 18 developed economies fall due to decreasing fossil fuel and energy use, increase in renewables and climate policies in place

University of East Anglia Read full ScienceDaily article here

Efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and tackle climate change in developed economies are beginning to pay off according to new research.

…Policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The group of countries represents 28 per cent of global emissions, and includes the UK, US, France and Germany.

The research team analysed the reasons behind changes in CO2emissions in countries where emissions declined significantly between 2005 and 2015. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, show that the fall in CO2 emissions was mainly due to renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and to decreasing energy use.

However, the decrease in energy use was partly explained by lower economic growth reducing the demand for energy following the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Significantly, countries where CO2 emissions decreased the most were those with the largest number of energy and climate policies in place…

  1. Corinne Le Quéré, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Charlie Wilson, Jale Tosun, Robbie Andrew, Robert J. Andres, Josep G. Canadell, Andrew Jordan, Glen P. Peters, Detlef P. van Vuuren. Drivers of declining CO2 emissions in 18 developed economiesNature Climate Change, 2019; 9 (3): 213 DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0419-7

Agrivoltaics: Solar Panels on Farms Could Be a Win-Win

Massachusetts is leading the charge in dual-use solar installations, making it possible to grow some crops and pasture animals while generating clean energy.

By Sarah Shemkus Read full Civil Eats article here

he solar panels in the fields at the University of Massachusetts Crop Research and Education Center don’t look like what most of us have come to expect. Instead of hunkering close to the earth, they’re mounted seven feet off the ground, with ample room for farmers or cows to wander underneath. Panels are separated by two- and three-foot gaps, instead of clustering tightly together. Light streams through these spaces and, underneath, rows of leafy kale and Brussels sprouts replace the typical bare earth or grass.

This unusual arrangement is one of the first examples of a dual-use solar installation—sometimes called agrivoltaics. It’s a photovoltaic array that’s raised far enough off the ground and spaced in such a way that some crops can still grow around and beneath the panels. The goal is to help farmers diversify their income through renewable energy generation, while keeping land in agricultural use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions….

India’s electric vehicle goals being realized on two wheels, not four

Rajendra Jadhav, Aditi ShahRead full Reuters article here

…Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has set a target of electric vehicles making up 30 percent of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030 from less than 1 percent today.

But its efforts to convince carmakers to produce electric vehicles have flopped mainly because of no clear policy to incentivize local manufacturing and sales, lack of public charging infrastructure and a high cost of batteries.

….Electric scooters make up a fraction of the total but are growing fast. In fiscal 2017-18, sales more than doubled to 54,800 from a year ago while electric car sales fell to 1,200 from 2,000 over the same period, according to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV).

By 2030, sales of electric scooters are expected to cross 2 million a year, even as most carmakers resist bringing electric cars to India….

India is now working on a new policy which aims to incentivize investments in electric vehicle manufacturing, batteries and smart charging, instead of only giving benefits on sales.

The government also wants to push the use of electric vehicles for public use, a revolution already led by three-wheeled autorickshaws. Sales of these vehicles, ubiquitous on Indian city roads, are expected to double to 935,000 units a year by 2023, according to consulting firm P&S Market Research.

BP and Shell planning for catastrophic 5°C global warming by 2050 despite publicly backing Paris 2°C climate agreement

Read full article here October 27 2017 Independent UK

Oil giants Shell and BP are planning for global temperatures to rise as much as 5°C by the middle of the century. The level is more than double the upper limit committed to by most countries in the world under the Paris Climate Agreement, which both companies publicly support.

The discrepancy demonstrates that the companies are keeping shareholders in the dark about the risks posed to their businesses by climate change, according to two new reports published by investment campaign group Share Action. Many climate scientists say that a temperature rise of 5°C would be catastrophic for the planet