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[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.]

GWU team demonstrates one-pot process for optimized synthesis of controlled CNTs from CO2; coupling cement and C2CNT

March 27, 2017

Researchers at George Washington University led by Dr. Stuart Licht (earlier post) have developed a new process that transforms CO2 into a controlled selection of nanotubes (CNTs) via molten electrolysis; they call the process C2CNT (CO2 into carbon nanotubes). This synthesis consumes only CO2 and electricity, and is constrained only by the cost of electricity.

Controlling the electrolysis parameters opens up a wide portfolio of CNT morphologies, including hollow or solid, thick- or thin-walled and doped CNTs. Molten carbonate electrosynthesized boron-doped CNTs exhibit high electrical conductivity. The process is described in a paper published in the Journal of CO2 Utilization. In a second paper in that journal, the team reports on the uses of C2CNT to retrofit cement plants. Per ton CO2 avoided, the C2CNT cement plant consumes $50 electricity, emits no CO2, and produces $100 cement and ∼$60,000 of CNTs.

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EIA: US energy-related CO2 dropped 2.7% in 2015; of end-use sectors, only transportation increased

According to a report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US energy-related CO2 emissions decreased by 146 million metric tons (MMmt) in 2015 to 5,259 MMmt, down 2.7% from 5,405 MMmt in 2014. This decline occurred despite growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.6% as other factors more than offset the growth in GDP. Energy-related CO2 emissions in 2015 were about 12% below 2005 levels.

These factors included a decline in the carbon intensity of the energy supply (CO2/British thermal units [Btu]) of 1.8%; and a 3.4% decline in energy intensity (Btu/GDP). Of the four end-use sectors, only transportation emissions increased in 2015 (+2.1%).

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California ARB votes to move forward with light-duty vehicle GHG and ZEV programs through 2025; cranking it up post-2025

March 25, 2017

After considering the Advanced Clean Cars Midterm Review (earlier post), the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously on Friday to continue with the vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and ZEV program for cars and light trucks sold in California through 2025. The action ensures that California and 12 other states that follow its vehicle regulations—one third of the US auto market—will move forward the greenhouse gas emission standards adopted in the 2012 process involving the federal government, California and the automakers.

The Board also voted to support the expansion of the ZEV marketplace before 2025, calling for redoubling current efforts underway to support market growth and paving the way for new regulations to increase rapidly the number of zero-emission vehicles required to be sold in California after 2025.

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IRENA, IEA study concludes meeting 2˚C scenario possible with net positive economics

March 20, 2017

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition—a joint study by IRENA and the IEA—launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

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IEA finds CO2 emissions flat for third straight year even as global economy grew in 2016

March 18, 2017

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were flat for a third straight year in 2016 even as the global economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency. The data signal a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity. This was the result of growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, improvements in energy efficiency, as well as structural changes in the global economy.

Global emissions from the energy sector stood at 32.1 gigatonnes last year, the same as the previous two years, while the global economy grew 3.1%, according to estimates from the IEA. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in the United States and China, the world’s two-largest energy users and emitters, and were stable in Europe, offsetting increases in most of the rest of the world.

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EPA re-opens Mid-Term Evaluation Process for light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards 2022-2025

March 15, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that EPA intends to reconsider its final determination issued on 12 January 2017 which recommended no change to the greenhouse gas standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2022- 2025. (Earlier post.) EPA will reconsider that determination in coordination with NHTSA as part of a renewed Mid-Term Evaluation process.

This process was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025, requiring EPA to determine no later than 1 April 2018 whether the greenhouse gas standards for model years 2022-2025 established are appropriate. In coordination with EPA, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is evaluating its fuel economy standards for that period. In accord with this schedule, the EPA intends to make a new Final Determination regarding the appropriateness of the standards no later than 1 April 2018.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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