[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.]
EIA releases report on CO2 emissions by state; California led in 2010 with transportation-sector emissions
May 14, 2013
|Energy-related CO2 emissions buy state, 2010. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a new report, State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2010. The report shows a significant variation of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions across states on both an absolute and a per capita basis. Factors such as size, population density, available fuels, types of businesses, climate, all play a role in both total and per capita emissions, the EIA noted.
Topping the list for absolute emissions in 2010 was Texas (652.6 million tonnes CO2); California (369.8 mt CO2); and Pennsylvania (256.6 mt CO2). In terms of per capita emissions, the top emitter was Wyoming (118.5 tonnes of CO2 per person), followed by North Dakota (80.4 tonnes/person) and Alaska (54.6 tonnes/person). Examining 2010 energy-related CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, the report found California was the top transportation emitter (214.0 million tonnes CO2), followed by Texas (194.9 mt CO2) and Florida (107.0 mt CO2.
Study finds large-scale ramp-up in biofuel crops could result in warming in some tropical regions, cooling in temperate and polar regions
May 08, 2013
Global land-use changes caused by a major ramp-up in biofuel crops—enough to meet about 10% of the world’s energy needs—could make some regions warmer, according to a new integrated modeling study by researchers from MIT and the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole.
Using an integrated assessment model that links an economic model with climate, terrestrial biogeochemistry, and biogeophysics models, the team examined the biogeochemical and biogeophysical effects of possible land use changes from an expanded global second-generation bioenergy program on surface temperatures over the first half of the 21st century.
Euro Parliament Environment Committee approves 147 g CO2/km target for light commercial vehicles by 2020; caps van speed
May 07, 2013
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee approved a draft law setting out rules for achieving a 147 g CO2/km (235 g/mile) target for new light commercial vehicles by 2020, down from 203 g/km (325 g/mile) today—i.e., a 27.6% reduction. The vote was 53 to 4 with 1 abstention.
The committee also proposed indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in a range of 105 to 120 g/km (168 to 192 g/mile) from 2025. The committee also voted to limit electronically the top speed of vans to 120 km/h (75 mph).
EPA says methane emissions from natural gas production have dropped 36% from 2007-2011
April 29, 2013
In its recently released Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 – 2011 (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that methane (CH4) emissions from the field production of natural gas have declined by 36% from 2007 to 2011 (from 83.1 to 53.4 Tg CO2 eq), after having increased by 43% from 1990 through 2006. Reasons the agency sited for this trend include factors such as increased voluntary reductions, as well as the effects of the recent global economic slowdown.
The finding may have an impact on future regulation of fracking for natural gas production, as opponents of the technology have pointed to higher rates of methane leak as being an argument against it.
Euro Parliament committee approves new 95 g/km CO2 target for cars; super credits and a switch to WLTP
April 25, 2013
The environment committee of the European Parliament approved a draft law setting out a new CO2 target for cars of 95g CO2/km (153 g/mile) by 2020, down from 130 gCO2/km (209 g/mile) in 2015. The draft also sets indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in the range of 68-78 g/km (109-126 g/mile) from 2025.
These emission limits are the average maximum allowed for car makers registered in the EU. Makers producing fewer than 1,000 cars a year should be exempt from the legislation, said the MEPs. Car makers would therefore have to produce, in addition to older, heavier or polluting models, enough cleaner ones to achieve a balance of 95g en 2020, on pain of penalties.
SAE CRP1234-4 analysis of R-1234yf nears completion; finding refrigerant safe and effective in automotive applications
April 23, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to perform an updated engineering safety analysis of the low global warming potential (GWP) R-1234yf refrigerant (earlier post), met during the SAE World Congress in Detroit. The team includes European, North American and Asian OEMs including Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.
The SAE CRP has carefully evaluated the extensive testing conducted by its members. The fault tree analysis was subsequently updated with regard to actual collision scenarios and is now complete pending final review.
IEA: carbon intensity of global energy supply has barely changed in last 20 years; “window of opportunity in transport”
April 18, 2013
|The ESCII, along with projections for three scenarios. To meet 2DS targets, the index needs to decline by 5.7% by 2020, and 64% by 2050. Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.|
In a fairly bleak assessment of global progress towards low-carbon energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that, despite a few bright spots such as the rapid expansion of renewable technologies and the growth of hybrid and EV sales, the progress is far below that required to achieve a 2 °C pathway—i.e., to hold warming to 2 °C as outlined in the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 (ETP) 2 °C Scenario (2DS). The assessment came in an annual report to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).
To illustrate this inertia, the report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduced the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The global energy supply became 6% cleaner from 1971 to 1990,in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s. Since 1990, however, the ESCII (2010 = 100) has remained essentially static, changing by less than 1%. In 1990 the underlying carbon intensity of supply was 57.1 tCO2/TJ (2.39 tCO2/toe); in 2010 it was 56.7 tCO2/TJ (2.37 tCO2/toe).
EPA annual US GHG inventory shows 1.6% drop in 2011 from previous year; transportation CO2 down 1.1%
April 16, 2013
|Total US greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in 2011. Click to enlarge.|
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 18th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showing a 1.6% decrease in 2011 from the previous year. Recent trends can be attributed to multiple factors including reduced emissions from electricity generation, improvements in fuel efficiency in vehicles with reductions in miles traveled, and year-to-year changes in the prevailing weather, EPA said.
GHG emissions in 2011 showed a 6.9% drop below 2005 levels. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2011 were equivalent to 6,702 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
Hansen paper emphasizes importance of retention and expansion of nuclear power for health and climate reasons
April 04, 2013
|Mean number of deaths prevented annually by nuclear power, 1971-2009. Credit: ACS, Hansen et al. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute has found that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. The estimated human deaths caused by nuclear power from 1971 to 2009 were far lower than the avoided deaths: 4,900, or about 370 times lower than the result for avoided deaths.
Projecting ahead, on the basis of global projection data that takes into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, Hansen and Kharecha also calculated that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000−7.04 million deaths and 80−240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by mid-century, depending on which fuel it replaces. Large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power, according to their analysis, which is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
US EPA proposing allowing high-octane, higher ethanol content fuels as part of Tier 3 regs; E30 as example
April 03, 2013
As part of the proposed Tier 3 rulemaking on vehicle emissions and gasoline sulfur content released last week (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to allow vehicle manufacturers to request approval for an alternative certification fuel—such as a high-octane 30% ethanol by volume (E30) blend—for vehicles they might design or optimize for use on such a fuel.
Higher octane fuels can lead to higher compression ratios which in turn can lead to more efficient gasoline engines and reduced fuel consumption. With turbocharged gasoline engines, there is a double benefit: higher compression ratios and increased boost. (Earlier post.) Having approval for such a high octane certification fuel would, the EPA proposed in the Tier 3 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:
Study suggests operational optimization can maximize the health and climate benefits of public transit investments in new bus technologies
April 02, 2013
A study by a team from the University of British Columbia and Metro Vancouver suggests that optimized operational control strategies for transit bus fleets ultimately offer transit agencies a way to maximize the benefits of their capital investments in new, cleaner technologies.
In their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they note that the evolution in bus technologies, particularly with respect to controlling pollutants that impact health—such as PM—combined with capital investments by transit agencies in these technologies, have resulted in the potential for large differences in emission factors within transit bus fleets. Operational optimization strategies such as vehicle assignment and scheduling can exploit this heterogeneous mix and minimize the climate and health impacts as well as operating costs of transit systems with minimal capital expenditure, they suggest.
PCAST suggests 6 key components for climate change strategy to President Obama; adaptation and mitigation
March 23, 2013
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter to President Obama describing six key components the advisory group believes should be central to the Administration’s strategy for addressing climate change. The letter, responding to a request by the President last fall for input, calls for a dual focus on mitigation and adaptation.
President Obama established the current PCAST in 2010 as an advisory group of leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President and the Executive Office of the President; one of the members serves as the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (the Science Advisor). PCAST’s charter is to advise the President on matters involving science, technology, and innovation policy, including, but not limited to, policy that affects science, technology, and innovation, as well as scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, and other topics.
Study finds technology cost of achieving European 2020 LDV CO2 targets more than offset by resultant fuel savings
March 19, 2013
|Provisional 2030 economic impact of achieving the 2020 targets in the two Phase I scenarios—Current Policy Initiatives and Tech 1— compared to baseline. Source: Cambridge Econometrics.Click to enlarge.|
A report published by Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA concludes that overall, the cost of technologies required to meet proposed European 2020 CO2 regulations for vehicles (95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans) will be more than offset by the resultant fuel savings. The technical and macro-economic study, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, focuses on light-duty vehicles.
The project is taking a phased approach. This first report (Phase I) examines only the impact of improving the efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles, in which efficiency gains are delivered by the improvement of the internal combustion engine vehicle, including lightweighting, engine downsizing and hybridization. The Phase II report, to be presented mid-2013, examines the impact of the gradual penetration of advanced powertrains, such as battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with increasing levels of indigenous energy resources, such as electricity and hydrogen.
Volkswagen to use CO2 as refrigerant for future air conditioning systems
March 08, 2013
The Volkswagen Group announced that it is choosing CO2 as the future low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant for its mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. The announcement follows press reports from the Geneva Motor Show that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen would pursue CO2 (R744) as the refrigerant for MACs instead of R-1234yf (developed by Honeywell and DuPont). (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen said it would roll out CO2 MAC systems progressively over its entire vehicle fleet. With a GWP (Global Warming Potential) value of 1, R744 is 99.3% below the EU’s now-specified GWP limit of 150 for MAC systems. R134a, the current widespread MAC refrigerant, has a GWP of 1,300, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
State Department issues Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL Pipeline: climate change impacts
March 02, 2013
|Comparison of proposed Keystone XL route to previously proposed project segment. Source: Draft SEIS. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of State (DOS) has released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in response to TransCanada’s May 2012 application for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’s oils sands in Alberta to Nebraska. The document is a detailed draft technical review of potential environmental impacts associated with the segment of the pipeline in the US, including: impacts from construction, impacts from potential spills, impacts related to climate change, and economic impacts.
Aside from the potential construction and spill impacts of the pipeline, the scope of the climate change impacts have become the most contentious and politicized issue surrounding the pipeline. The DOS SEIS accordingly takes a detailed look at life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of petroleum products from Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) oil sands crudes compared with reference crudes and the potential impact the pipeline might have on climate change as well as on the future development of the oils sands resource in Canada.
NASA begins ACCESS flight research to study effects of biojet fuels on engine performance, emissions and contrails
March 01, 2013
NASA researchers have begun a series of flights using the agency’s DC-8 flying laboratory to study the effects of alternate biofuel on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitude. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise EmiSSions (ACCESS) research involves flying the DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while an instrumented NASA Falcon HU-25 aircraft trails behind at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles.
During the flights, the DC-8’s four CFM56 engines will be powered by conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids that comes from camelina plants.
Senators Sanders, Boxer propose legislation to institute GHG price on large stationary sources and remove support for fossil fuel industries
February 15, 2013
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would set an escalating fee on greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources to fund investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies and also provide rebates to consumers to offset increases in energy prices. The legislation also proposes numerous actions against financing and support for fossil fuel industries.
The proposal was drafted as two measures, the Climate Protection Act—which sets the carbon price and finance programs for sustainable technologies—and the Sustainable Energy Act—which ends federal support for fossil fuel companies and research and extends tax incentives for renewables. Among the financing provisions of the legislation are:
SAE CRP: growing high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely; “disappointment” with departure of Daimler, BMW and Audi
February 11, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment of the use of the low global warming potential R1234yf in mobile air conditioning systems (earlier post), met face-to-face during the week of 4 February 2013. SAE reported that as the CRP team continues to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment, the high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely in automotive applications continues to grow.
This review—the fourth such—was launched in October 2012 after Daimler in September announced that findings from its internal investigations raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems and said that it would not use this chemical in its products. (Earlier post.)
EPA Climate Change Adaptation Plan sees likely increase in tropospheric ozone, with more difficulty in attaining NAAQS in many areas
February 10, 2013
Among the many climate-related vulnerabilities that can impact its mission, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites a likely increase in tropospheric ozone pollution as potentially making it more difficult to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in many areas with existing ozone problems. The analysis comes in a draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan that the agency has released for public comment.
In the plan, EPA examines the different ways in which its programs are vulnerable to a changing climate and how it might adapt to continue meeting its mission of protecting human health and the environment. Every program and regional office within the EPA is currently developing an Implementation Plan outlining how each considers the impacts of climate change in its mission, operations, and programs, and carrying out the work called for in the agency-wide plan.
Researchers demonstrate electrochemical synthesis of ammonia from air and water under mild conditions
January 30, 2013
Researchers from the University of Strathclyde and the University of St. Andrews have demonstrated that ammonia can be synthesized directly from air (instead of N2) and H2O (instead of H2) under a mild condition (room temperature, one atmosphere) with supplied electricity which can be obtained from renewable resources such as solar, wind or marine. In addition to providing a less carbon-intensive pathway for ammonia, their process could also reduce the pressure on renewable energy storage, they note.
Their paper appears in Scientific Reports, the open access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.
Study finds urban waste heat affects temperatures across thousands of miles, warming some areas and cooling others
January 28, 2013
The waste heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas—which is distinct from the urban heat island effect—alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems, affecting temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The extra waste heat generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North American and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Florida State University; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
DeCicco: Transportation GHG reduction policy should focus upstream on fuel supply rather than downstream on choice of fuels in vehicles
January 25, 2013
In a new working paper, Prof. John DeCicco at the University of Michigan argues that to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, the proper policy focus should be upstream in sectors that provide the fuel, rather than downstream on the choice of fuels in the automobile.
More specifically, he suggests that other than supporting fundamental R&D, programs to promote alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) “are not currently warranted for climate protection. In addition to managing travel demand and improving vehicle efficiency, the implied climate policy priority is limiting net GHG emissions in fuel supply sectors.” The paper is available from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
Black carbon is a much larger cause of climate change than previously assessed; about twice previous estimates, and 2/3 the effect of CO2
January 16, 2013
|Schematic overview of the primary black-carbon emission sources and the processes that control the distribution of black carbon in the atmosphere and determine its role in the climate system. Source: Bond et al. Click to enlarge.|
Black carbon (BC) is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming and its influence on climate has been greatly underestimated, according to the first quantitative and comprehensive analysis of this pollutant’s climate impact.
The direct influence of black carbon, or soot, on warming the climate could be about twice previous estimates, according to an in-depth open-access study by an international team of 31 authors published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. Accounting for all of the ways black carbon can affect climate, it is believed to have a warming effect of about 1.1 Watts per square meter (W/m2), or approximately two-thirds of the effect of the largest man-made contributor to global warming—carbon dioxide.
Tsinghua University provincial-level lifecycle study finds fuel-cycle criteria pollutants of EVs in China could be up to 5x those of natural gas vehicles due to China’s coal-dominant power mix
January 12, 2013
|Consumption-based power mixes and NG transmission distances by Chinese province in 2010. Credit: ACS, Huo et al. Click to enlarge.|
A province-by-province life cycle analysis of natural gas and electric vehicles by a team from Tsinghua University concludes that while, from the perspective of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions, natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) are “an option with no obvious merits or demerits”, electric vehicles (EVs) are “an option with significant merits and demerits in this regard” due to China’s heavily coal-based electricity generation (national average of about 77%).
In regions where the share of coal-based electricity is relatively low, EVs can achieve substantial GHG reduction, the team reports in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. However, the fuel-cycle PM10, PM2.5, SO2, and NOx emissions of EVs could be up to five times higher than those of ICEVs (internal combustion engine vehicles) and CNGVs. While the increases in PM10 and PM2.5 emissions are less important because of the low contribution of light duty vehicles to national PM10 and PM2.5 emissions, the NOx and SO2 increases are significant enough to notably change total national emissions, they conclude.
SAE project update on R-1234yf refrigerant
December 14, 2012
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team was recently established to perform an updated engineering review—the fourth such—of usage of the low global warming potential (GWP) R-1234yf refrigerant in vehicles. (Earlier post.) The group has been regularly meeting to review and share test information completed since the close of the original CRP1234-3 in 2009. The previous study concluded that R-1234yf is a safe and acceptable alternative refrigerant for mobile air conditioning systems that can be used to meet new environmental and consumer needs. (Earlier post.)
The new CRP team began by conducting a detailed review of the original Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and chose to expand the trees to ensure that newly-identified information and testing from each of the OEMs is incorporated. This study has highlighted concerns with relying on one test to be reflective of real world collisions across vehicle applications.
Report from Victoria EV Trial reinforces importance of source of electricity and EV efficiency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
December 07, 2012
The Victoria (Australia) EV Trial—a major 5-year initiative (earlier post)—has released a comparative lifecycle assessment of the environmental impacts of electric vehicles relative to conventional gasoline vehicles in Victoria from now until 2030.
The lifecycle analysis, “Environmental Impacts of Electric Vehicles in Victoria”, found that the impacts from vehicle operation far outweigh those from vehicle production—true even if allowing for an EV battery replacement over the vehicle life. Vehicle disposal impacts, including those of the EV battery, were found to be negligible due to the expected high rate of material recycling. The dominant influence of vehicle operation during the EV lifecycle thus highlights the importance of the source of electricity, how efficient the energy conversion in the vehicle is, and the way a vehicle is used, the report found.
Singapore introducing stiff new feebate scheme for low carbon cars
November 29, 2012
Singapore will implement a new Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEV) on 1 January 2012, providing rebates to qualified new cars, taxis, and imported used cars with low carbon emissions, and imposing an equivalent surcharge on higher emitting vehicles. This new scheme will replace the existing Green Vehicle Rebate (GVR) scheme that will expire on 31 December 2012.
Under CEV, all new cars, taxis, and imported used cars registered from 1 January 2013 with low carbon emissions of less than or equal to 160g CO2/km will qualify for rebates of between S$5,000 and S$20,000 (US$4,097 to US$16,389), which will be offset against the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) payable.
CARB releases summary of results of first CO2 cap-and trade auction; CPUC proposes how to use the revenues
November 20, 2012
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the results of California’s first quarterly auction under the cap-and-trade program. One allowance permits the release of one metric ton of carbon dioxide. Of the 23,126,110 allowances offered for the Current Auction (2013 Vintage), 23,126,110 were sold with a settlement price of $10.09 (auction reserve price was $10.00). The “Vintage” is the year they can first be used for compliance. Of 39,450,000 allowances for the Advance Auction (2015 Vintage), 5,576,000 were sold with a settlement price of $10 (same reserve price).
The settlement price is the lowest accepted bid price above reserve price or before allowances are sold out. For the 2013 Vintage, the maximum price was $91.13; mean price was $13.75; and median price was $12.96.
World Bank report examines likely impacts and risks associated with a 4 °C global warming within this century
November 19, 2012
A new report commissioned by the World Bank, and prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, provides a snapshot of recent scientific literature and new analyses of likely impacts and risks that would be associated with a 4 °C global warming within this century. The report—Turn Down the Heat—attempts to outline a range of risks, focusing on developing countries and especially the poor.
The report is not a comprehensive scientific assessment, the authors note; one such is slated to be forthcoming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013–14 in its Fifth Assessment Report. The World Bank report focused on developing countries, while recognizing that developed countries are also vulnerable and at serious risk of major damages from climate change.
NRC releases report on potential for climate change to pose or to alter security risks for the US over next decade
November 11, 2012
The National Research Council of the US has released a report examining the potential for climate change to pose or to alter security risks for the United States over the next ten years. The report, the outcome of a study requested by the US intelligence community from the NRC in 2010, offers recommendations to improve understanding of the links between climate and security; monitoring and analysis of the factors linking climate change to security risks; and the ability to anticipate potential security risks arising from climate phenomena.
The report focuses on social and political stresses outside the United States, and on security risks that might arise from situations in which climate-related events have consequences that exceed the capacity of affected populations to cope and respond. It also emphasizes climate-driven security risks that call for action within the coming decade either to anticipate or to respond to security threats.
SAE begins 4th cooperative research program on R-1234yf refrigerant after Daimler raises safety questions and balks at use
November 09, 2012
In October 2012, a fourth SAE International Cooperative Research Program (CRP) was launched by the automotive industry to further analyze the safety of the new low global warming potential (GWP) mobile air conditioner refrigerant, R1234yf. The participants in the 2012 R-1234yf CRP include Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.
The action comes after Daimler in September announced that findings from its internal investigations raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems and said that it would not use this chemical in its products. (Earlier post.)
PwC analysis finds meeting 2 °C warming target would require “unprecedented and sustained” reductions over four decades
November 05, 2012
|PwC analysis finds a need for global carbon intensity to drop an average of 5.1% per year through 2050. Click to enlarge.|
The low annual rate of global reduction of carbon emissions per unit of GDP needed to limit global warming to 2 °C—based on the probability assessments of the UN IPCC—is insufficient to achieve that goal, according to the latest Low Carbon Economy Index published by business consultancy PwC. The analysis is based on a carbon budget that would stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at 450 ppm and give a 50% probability of limiting warming to 2 °C.
Since 2000, the global rate of decarbonization has averaged 0.8%; from 2010 to 2011, global carbon intensity fell by just 0.7%. Because of this slow start, global carbon intensity now needs to be cut by an average of 5.1% a year from now to 2050. This required rate of decarbonization has not been seen even in a single year since the mid-20th century when these records began. Keeping to the 2 °C carbon budget will require “unprecedented and sustained” reductions over four decades, according to the PwC analysis. Even to have a reasonable prospect of getting to a 4°C scenario would imply nearly quadrupling the current rate of decarbonization.
ERTOC: optimizing CO2 of shipments down to an individual consignment level
October 22, 2012
|ERTOC 7.5-tonne demonstrator. Click to enlarge.|
The Efficient and Reliable Transportation of Consignments (ERTOC) project, a two-year research collaboration between Ricardo, GS1 UK, Unipart Logistics, IRIS Technology and Coventry University, has delivered a viable prototype demonstrator. The goal of ERTOC was to develop a standards-based open-architecture data hub to enable freight users and operators to make more informed choices based on the efficiency and increased awareness of the true financial and environmental cost of transporting goods.
The data hub integrates driver behavior monitoring and coaching, consignment tracking and vehicle tracking and fleet management using telematics-based services. Information from each of these functions is provided via a platform-independent, open application program interface (API).
Daimler balks at use of low GWP R-1234yf refrigerant, citing new internal safety findings; wants to continue using R-134a (updated)
September 25, 2012
Daimler announced that findings from a new internal investigation have raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. Due to the new findings of this study and the high safety demands at Mercedes-Benz, Daimler says that it will not use this chemical in its products. The company stated that it therefore wishes to continue to use R-134a refrigerant in its vehicles.
Over the last several years, the automotive industry has been tracking to replace the mobile air conditioning (MAC) refrigerant R-134a, which has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1,430, with the lower-GWP refrigerant R-1234yf (GWP = 4). In 2009, for example, a two-year Cooperative Research Program conducted through SAE International to investigate the safety and environmental performance of R-1234yf concluded that it could can be used as the global replacement refrigerant in MAC systems and could be safely accommodated through established industry standards and practices for vehicle design, engineering, manufacturing, and service. The report was the third SAE report to evaluate the new refrigerant. (Earlier post.)
California ARB holding hearing on adopting amendments to LEV III to support compliance options using new Federal GHG regulations
September 14, 2012
The California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) will conduct a public hearing on 15 November in Sacramento to consider adopting amendments to the Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV III) greenhouse gas emissions standards, and additional minor revisions to the LEV III criteria pollutant and Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations, approved by the Board earlier this year. (Earlier post.)
The objective of the rulemaking is to follow through on the commitment made to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by ARB Chairman Mary Nichols in 2011 and in Board Resolutions 12-11 and 12-21 to propose for adoption appropriate language to accept manufacturer-demonstrated compliance with the new final national passenger motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for MYs 2017–2025 (earlier post) as an option to achieve compliance with California’s separate but aligned regulations for those model years.
National Academies report finds climate models need to evolve substantially, calls for strategy of increased unification amidst diversity
September 10, 2012
Climate models will need to evolve substantially to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers, according to a new report form the US National Academies, “A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling”.
Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse US climate modeling community, the report suggests. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise—in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers, and holding an annual climate modeling forum—could help speed progress.
Study projects net cooling of climate from ship emissions through 2050
September 09, 2012
|Shipping-induced global temperature change in 2050 using different parameterizations of Indirect Aerosol Effect (IAE). Credit: ACS, Lund et al. Click to enlarge.|
A recent study by an international team calculated that shipping causes a net cooling of climate across all parametrizations of the indirect aerosol effect (IAE) and scenarios throughout the period 1900−2050. This continued shorter-term cooling response caused by certain emissions does not negate the necessity for reductions in CO2 emissions, which are crucial to limiting the long-term warming impact of the sector, the researchers cautioned.
The team from Center for International Climate and Environmental Research—Oslo (CICERO); Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR); University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) estimated the global-mean radiative forcing (RF) and total net surface temperature change from the shipping sector for a range of emission scenarios using a simple climate model (SCM). The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
MIT study suggests carbon tax could help reduce US deficit, lower other taxes, reduce emissions
August 27, 2012
A new report from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change suggests that a tax on carbon emissions could help raise the money needed to reduce the US deficit, while improving the economy, lowering other taxes and reducing emissions.
In the report—Carbon Tax Revenue and the Budget Deficit: A Win-Win-Win Solution?—John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program and co-author Sebastian Rausch, now at ETH Zurich University, calculated the impact a carbon tax starting at $20 per ton would have using a national economic model that details energy, taxes and household incomes. They found that the tax would raise $1.5 trillion in revenue, which could then be used to reduce personal or corporate income taxes, extend the payroll tax cut that expires this year, maintain spending on social programs—or some combination of these options—while reducing the deficit.
Global CO2 emissions up 3% in 2011; per capita CO2 emissions in China reach EU levels
July 20, 2012
|CO2 per capita emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production from the top 5 emitting regions. Click to enlarge.|
Global emissions of CO2 increased by 3% last year, according to the annual report “Trends in global CO2 emissions”, released by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). At 3%, the 2011 increase in global CO2 emissions is above the past decade’s average annual increase of 2.7%.
Weak economic conditions, a mild winter, and energy savings stimulated by high oil prices led to a decrease of 3% in CO2 emissions in the European Union and of 2% in both the United States and Japan. Emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global CO2 emissions—the same share as that of China and India combined, where emissions increased by 9% and 6% respectively in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita—within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialized countries.
EC proposes 95 grams CO2/km target for new cars by 2020, 147 grams for light vans; super credits for cars below 35g
July 11, 2012
The European Commission today proposed targets for the further reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020. The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (g CO2/km) in 2020 from 135.7 grams in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130 grams in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4 grams in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175 grams in 2017.
The proposals would amend two existing regulations establishing binding requirements for manufacturers to meet the 2015 mandatory target for cars and the 2017 target for vans. Implementing measures for the regulations are already in place and CO2 emissions from new vehicles are monitored annually.
NRC report projects sea level off most of California will rise at slightly higher rate than global average; lower rate for Oregon, Washington, NorCal; variety of factors affect outcome
June 23, 2012
The sea level off most of California is expected to rise about one meter over the next century, an amount slightly higher than projected for global sea levels, and will likely increase damage to the state’s coast from storm surges and high waves, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Sea levels off Washington, Oregon, and northern California will likely rise less, about 60 centimeters over the same period of time.
Tide gauges show that global sea level has risen about 7 inches (18 cm) during the 20th century, and recent satellite data shows that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating. As Earth warms, sea levels are rising mainly because: (1) ocean water expands as it warms; and (2) water from melting glaciers and ice sheets is flowing into the ocean. Melting of land ice is now the largest component of global sea-level rise (about 65%), largely because ice loss rates are increasing, according to the report. However, sea-level rise is uneven and varies from place to place.
Scientists call for careful use of time scales, reference dates and statistical approaches in analyzing climate change trends to avoid distortion and hampering of response
June 19, 2012
Demonstrating that the use of different time scales, reference dates, and statistical approaches can generate highly disparate results in climate reports, scientists at the University of Alaska Anchorage argue that careful use of these tools is critical for correctly interpreting and reporting climatic trends in Alaska and other polar regions.
In an open-access paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Kalb Stevenson and colleagues acknowledge that climate change is of great interest to climatologists, agencies, media outlets, policy makers, and the general public, but note that there are different ways to assess change, including the study of temperature trends. What may seem to be simple or arbitrary choices in these matters could potentially infuse significant bias into the interpretation of data, they suggest, thereby distorting the representation of climate variability in Alaska and handicapping potential strategies for response.
Nissan establishes Zero Emission Fund; CO2 offset credits for LEAF owners in Japan
June 11, 2012
|Flows for the Zero Emission Fund. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. launched the Nissan Zero Emission Fund, a new fund for individual Nissan electric vehicle (EV) owners in Japan which converts the amount of CO2 emissions that are offset by driving the 100% electric Nissan LEAF to generate credits.
Through participation in this fund program, Nissan LEAF owners will be able to generate CO2 emissions credits certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and sold to the Green Investment Promotion Organization, an organization that promotes investment in low carbon emissions. Profits earned by the sale of the credits will be invested by the fund to support the installation of quick charging facilities and forest conservation activities.
Government of Québec unveils $2.7B climate change action plan; 63% of spending targeting transport
June 05, 2012
The Premier of Québec, Jean Charest; the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand; and the Minister of Transport Pierre Moreau unveiled the Canadian province’s 2013-2020 Action Plan on Climate Change (PACC 2020).
The action plan and strategy adaptation represent a total investment of nearly C$2.7 billion (US$2.6 billion). The PACC 2020 is self-financed from the carbon market and the extension until 2014 of the fuel levy and fossil fuels. Almost 63% (C$1.7 billion) of the funding of the action plan will finance measures in the transport sector—specifically developing public transportation, supporting the purchase of equipment that reduces consumption of fossil fuels, and encouraging the use of hybrid trucks and conversion to natural gas.
Study projects thermoelectric power in Europe and US vulnerable to climate change due to lower summer river flows and higher river water temperatures
June 03, 2012
|Projected changes in summer mean usable capacity of power plants in the US and Europe for the SRES A2 emissions scenario for the 2040s (2031–2060) relative to the control period (1971–2000). Source: van Vliet et al. Click to enlarge.|
A study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that thermoelectric power plants (i.e., nuclear and fossil-fueled generating units) in Europe and the United States are vulnerable to climate change due to the combined impacts of lower summer river flows and higher river water temperatures.
In the US and Europe, at present 91% and 78% of the total electricity is produced by thermoelectric power plants, which directly depend on the availability and temperature of water resources for cooling. An international team of researchers projected a summer average decrease in capacity of power plants of 6.3—19% in Europe and 4.4—16% in the United States depending on cooling system type and climate scenario for 2031—2060. In addition, probabilities of extreme (>90%) reductions in thermoelectric power production will on average increase by a factor of three.
MIT report finds China’s actions on climate change crucial; argues for global economy-wide greenhouse gas tax
May 29, 2012
A new report from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change shows the importance of all major nations taking part in global efforts to reduce emissions—and in particular, finds China’s role to be crucial.
The report—titled “The Role of China in Mitigating Climate Change” and published in the journal Energy Economics, compares the impact of a stringent emissions reduction policy with and without China’s participation. Specifically, the study finds that with China’s help the global community may be—under the most optimistic scenario—able to limit warming to 2 °C, relative to pre-industrial levels. Without China, we miss that mark by about 1 °C.