[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Auto Alliance urges EPA to withdraw premature Final Determination on light-duty GHG regulations, resume Midterm Evaluation process with NHTSA
February 23, 2017
The Auto Alliance has sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting that the US Environmental Protection Agency withdraw the Final Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards under the Midterm Evaluation which EPA announced on 13 January 2017. (Earlier post.)
It its letter, the Alliance argues that by rushing to issue the Final Determination (which maintains the current GHG standards as defined through 2025) in January 2017, EPA abrogated its commitment to a robust Midterm Evaluation of the standards in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is conducting its own midterm review of the fuel economy standards through 2025. Furthermore, the Alliance argues, EPA never published the final rules in the Federal Register. The Alliance is not arguing for a rollback of standards; instead, it is arguing for a resumption of the original Midterm Evaluation timetable (to which NHTSA appears to be adhering), that would result in findings by April 2018.
Study finds transport, residential heating main sources of black carbon in Russian Arctic
February 04, 2017
According to a new international study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 38% of black carbon in the Russian Arctic originates from transport and 35% from residential heating sources, while open fires, power plants, and gas flaring are responsible for only 12%, 9%, and 6% respectively. These estimates confirm previous work for some areas of the European Arctic, but for Siberia, the findings differ from previous research, which had suggested that contribution from gas flaring were much higher.
Black carbon, or soot, increases snow and ice melt by dulling the reflective surface and increasing the absorption of sunlight. Researchers say this is one reason that Arctic regions have warmed faster than any other area on the planet, with average temperatures there today over 4 °C higher than the 1968-1996 average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Black carbon may also be contributing to the steep decline in summer Arctic sea ice coverage in recent decades.
California ARB releases discussion draft of plan to cut GHG by 40% by 2030
December 02, 2016
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its initial draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Discussion Draft builds on the state’s efforts to reach its more immediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and outlines the most effective ways to reach the new 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade program.
In his January 2015 inaugural address, California Governor Jerry Brown identified five key climate change strategy “pillars,” which recognize that several major areas of the California economy will need to reduce their emissions to meet California’s ambitious climate change goals. These five pillars are:
California Air Resources Board posts revised draft of strategy to reduce “Super Pollutants”
November 29, 2016
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has posted a revised draft of California’s proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Strategy. SLCPs are a category of pollutants which remain in the atmosphere for a relatively brief period, but have global warming potentials that are much higher than those of CO2. SLCPs may account for an estimated 40% of global warming, increasing the impacts of climate change.
SLCPs include black carbon (soot), methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions in California and globally—which are used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants and insulation.
Global Carbon Project: Low growth in global carbon emissions continues for third successive year
November 14, 2016
Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project. Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the 3-year slowdown.
The projected rise of only 0.2% for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3% per year in the decade to 2013, with just 0.7% growth seen in 2014. The new data shows emissions growth remained below 1% despite GDP growth exceeding 3%. Detailed data were made available in the open-access data journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD). This is the fifth update of the global carbon budget published by ESSD in the living data format.
Oil and Gas Climate Initiative to invest $1B over 10 years in low-emissions tech
November 04, 2016
The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) will invest $1 billion over the next ten years to develop and to accelerate the commercial deployment of innovative low-emissions technologies.
Led by the heads of ten oil and gas companies that aim to lead the industry response to climate change, OGCI member companies—BP, CNPC, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries, Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, Statoil and Total—together represent one fifth of the world’s oil and gas production. The OGCI was established following discussions during the 2014 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, and was officially launched at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014.
Lung Association report highlights health and climate costs of petroleum-based transportation and the benefits of shifting to ZEVs
October 27, 2016
A new report produced by the American Lung Association concludes that over-reliance on petroleum-based fuels for transportation costs the 10 ZEV states in the US (California and nine other states that have adopted the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program) an estimated $37 billion in health expenses and climate costs every year—with California costs alone hitting $15 billion.
Of that $37 billion, health costs added up to $24 billion in 2015; the $24 billion represents the monetized sum of harmful emissions responsible for an estimated 220,000 work-loss days, more than 109,000 asthma exacerbations, hundreds of thousands of other respiratory impacts, and 2,580 premature deaths.
ICAO agrees to market-based measure to address aviation CO2
October 07, 2016
The UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed to recommend adoption of a final Resolution text on a new global market-based measure (GMBM) to control CO2 emissions from international aviation.
ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures the air transport community is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation. These include technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.
Government of Canada announces national plan for carbon pricing
October 04, 2016
The Government of Canada has proposed a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon emissions; under the new plan, all Canadian jurisdictions will have carbon pricing in place by 2018.
To accomplish this, Canada will set a benchmark for pricing carbon emissions—set at a level that will help Canada meet its greenhouse gas emission targets. Provinces and territories will have flexibility in deciding how they implement carbon pricing. Jurisdictions can implement: (i) an explicit price-based system (a carbon tax such as British Columbia’s or a carbon levy and performance-based emissions system like in Alberta); or (ii) a cap-and-trade system (e.g. Ontario and Quebec).
California Governor signs new super-pollutants legislation into law; black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane
September 20, 2016
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed SB 1383, establishing the nation’s toughest restrictions on super pollutants including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. The law is in addition to California’s existing raft of climate legislation.
SB 1383 reduces the emission of super pollutants (also known as short-lived climate pollutants) and promotes renewable gas by requiring a 50% reduction in black carbon and 40% reduction in methane and hydrofluorocarbon from 2013 levels by 2030. Sources of these super pollutants include petroleum-based transportation fuels, agriculture, waste disposal and synthetic gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning and aerosol products.
Technical brief: transportation overtaking electricity generation as the largest source of US CO2 emissions
September 19, 2016
A technical brief by Dr. John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute shows that transportation is overtaking electricity generation as the largest source of US CO2.
The average rate at which CO2 is emitted from vehicle tailpipes and other mobile sources has exceeded the rate of CO2 emissions from electric power plants over seven of the past eight months. Although efficiency gains are limiting transportation emissions growth, the gains are not enough to reduce the sector’s CO2 emissions in the face of increased travel and shipping, DeCicco writes. CO2 emissions from the transportation sector increased at an average rate of 1.8% per year over the past four years.
U Chicago, MIT study suggests ongoing use of fossil fuels absent new carbon taxes
February 24, 2016
A paper by a team from the University of Chicago and MIT suggests that technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead to the continued use of fossil fuels—oil, gas, and coal—unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions. Their analysis is published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
While renewable energy has made promising gains in just the last few years—the cost of solar dropped by about two-thirds from 2009 to 2014—new drilling and extraction techniques have made fossil fuels cheaper and markedly increased the amount of oil and gas available. In the US alone, oil reserves have expanded 59% between 2000 and 2014, and natural gas reserves have expanded 94% in the same time.