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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.]

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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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.

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Study finds high concentration of CO2 protects sorghum against drought and improves seeds

December 01, 2015

A study by researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Bioscience Institute (IB-USP) in Brazil, with colleagues at the Ohio State University, has found that the rising atmospheric concentration of CO2 is beneficial for the physiology of sorghum, an economically and nutritionally important crop grown worldwide. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Plant Physiology.

The ability of sorghum to benefit from rising CO2 levels is due to a peculiarity of photosynthesis in the family of C4 grasses, which include sugarcane and maize as well as sorghum.

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Aramco opens R&D center in Detroit area; fuels research with focus on novel fuels/engines systems for reduced CO2

November 14, 2015

The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated as one of three US-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company. The new facility, located in Novi, Mich., and owned and operated by US subsidiary Aramco Services Company, further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program.

Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.

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Report finds road transportation sector in Canada likely to fall far short of 2050 GHG emissions reduction target

November 12, 2015

A new Conference Board of Canada report finds that Canada is unlikely to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Even when taking into account reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency, and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short of the 80-by-50 target.

Despite voluntary and regulatory initiatives that have improved the emissions efficiency of passenger and freight transportation, emissions from road transportation are increasing due to growing number of cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks. Canada’s road transport emissions were 40% higher in 2013 than in 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, transportation emissions accounted for nearly half of the growth of Canada’s total emissions levels, with road transport accounting for the largest share of transportation emissions.

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US rejects Keystone XL pipeline, citing combatting climate change as critical factor; Kerry: arguments pro and con “overstated”

November 06, 2015

On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued his determination that “the national interest of the United States would be best served by denying TransCanada a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agrees with this determination and the eight federal agencies consulted under Executive Order 13337 have accepted it.

The determination by the State Department brings to an end the much delayed, deferred and debated permit process that would have allowed TransCanada to built the fourth phase of its Keystone pipeline system to bring more oil sands crude from Canada to refineries in the US. In response, TransCanada announced it would review all of its options, including filing a new application to receive a Presidential Permit for a cross-border crude oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.

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VW uncovers irregularities in type-approval CO2 levels affecting about 800K vehicles as part of diesel investigation

November 03, 2015

The Volkswagen Group announced today that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels. Based on present knowledge, around 800,000 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group could be affected, the company said.

Under the ongoing review of all processes and workflows in connection with diesel engines, Volkswagen investigators established that the CO2 levels—and thus the fuel consumption figures—for some models were set too low during the CO2 certification process. The majority of the vehicles concerned have diesel engines.

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Honda launches new “Green Path” initiatives for manufacturing and operations; new $210M paint line at Marysville with new 4C2B process

September 25, 2015

Honda has announced several initiatives under its new “Green Path” approach to reducing the total life-cycle environmental impact of its products and operations in North America. Among these is a $210-million investment in a new, more environmentally responsible auto-body painting facility and innovative paint process at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant (MAP), the largest of Honda’s eight auto plants in North America. MAP produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe along with the Acura TLX and ILX for customers in more than 100 countries.

Honda has established a voluntary goal to reduce its total GHG emissions—including customer use-phase—by 50% by the year 2050, compared to 2000 levels; this works out to a reduction of 90% per unit sales—a difficult task, noted Ryan Harty, a former Honda R&D engineer who now manages Honda’s new Environmental Business Development Office.

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