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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 Legislature passes $1.5B California Clean Air Initiative to cut emissions; $895M for mobile sources

September 19, 2017

The California state legislature has passed a set of bills (AB 134 and AB 109) providing $895 million towards programs that will reduce air pollution from mobile sources which are responsible for 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Titled the “California Clean Air Initiative,” the bills will invest the bulk of available discretionary revenue (the 40% of cap-and-trade revenue not previously allocated by statute) through incentives to replace old, high-polluting diesel engines in heavy trucks and buses; provide rebates to help low- and middle-income families purchase new and used zero-emission vehicles; and promote zero-emission car-sharing and agricultural van pool programs, among others. The Clean Air Initiative marks the single largest investment in clean air in state history.

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European auto industry proposes further 20% cut in passenger car CO2 by 2030 from 2021; conditional on EV uptake and infrastructure; no ZEV mandate

September 13, 2017

At the Frankfurt Motor Show, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) outlined the industry’s proposal for a pathway to future CO2 reductions: a 20% CO2 reduction for passenger cars by 2030, compared to 2021. The European Commission will reveal its proposal on CO2 targets for cars post-2021 later this year.

The ACEA said that this target should be conditional on the real market uptake of electrically-chargeable vehicles and the availability of charging infrastructure for alternatively-powered vehicles which are crucial to achieve any significant CO2 reductions beyond 2020 levels. Based on a mid-term review in 2025, this target could be adjusted either upwards or downwards.

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US DOT releases new automated driving systems guidance

The US Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new federal guidance for the implementation of autonomous driving: Automated Driving Systems (ADS): A Vision for Safety 2.0. This is the latest guidance for automated driving systems to industry and States; it replaces the earlier guidance document issued by the previous administration in September 2016 and offers a more flexible approach to advancing the innovation of automated vehicle safety technologies.

A Vision for Safety: 2.0 builds on the previous policy and incorporates feedback received through public comments and Congressional hearings. The 2.0 document provides voluntary guidance that encourages best practices and prioritizes safety. The document also provides technical assistance to States and best practices for policymakers. Specifically, the new Voluntary Guidance:

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NTSB: driver errors, overreliance on automation, lack of safeguards, led to fatal Tesla crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way and a Tesla driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation are the probable cause of the fatal 7 May 2016, crash near Williston, Florida. (Earlier post.)

The NTSB also determined the operational design of the Tesla’s vehicle automation permitted the car driver’s overreliance on the automation, noting its design allowed prolonged disengagement from the driving task and enabled the driver to use it in ways inconsistent with manufacturer guidance and warnings. As a result of its investigation the NTSB issued seven new safety recommendations and reiterated two previously issued safety recommendations.

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Simon Fraser study finds no free-ride for ZEV area neighbors; regions need their own policies

September 04, 2017

In study based on a dynamic technology adoption model, a pair of researchers at Simon Fraser University (British Columbia) have concluded that even if a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) manadate drives significant ZEV adoption in the area in which the mandate is implemented, there is no “free-riding” ZEV adoption in neighboring areas. Regions seeking low-carbon transportation likely will need to implement their own stringent policies, the researchers suggest. The study by Maxwell Sykes and Jonn Axsen is published in the journal Energy Policy.

Sykes and Axsen investigated the regional spillover effects and GHG impacts of the ZEV mandate in place in ten US states. They focused on their own small region (British Columbia, covering 0.7% of the market) as potentially free-riding off of ZEV States’ policy (covering 23% of the market).

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Ninth annual Green Innovation Index finds California light-duty vehicle emissions spike; major challenge to 2030 climate goals

August 22, 2017

The ninth annual California Green Innovation Index—released by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10 and prepared by Beacon Economics—finds that the state’s ambitious climate policies have allowed for considerable economic growth, with California outpacing the growth of other states during the recovery period following the Great Recession. Between 2006 and 2015, California’s GDP per capita grew by almost $5,000 per person, nearly double the growth experienced by the US as a whole. At the same time, per capita emissions in the state decreased by 12%. Job growth between 2006 and 2015 in California outpaced rates experienced prior to 2006, and outpaced total US employment gains by 27%.

However, although the state has made considerable progress decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the rate of emissions decline appears to be slowing, due in part to a spike in transportation emissions attributed to an increase from light-duty vehicles. On an absolute basis, California’s total GHG emissions fell only slightly in 2015, down 0.34% from 2014. This compares to a 0.73% reduction in the previous year and sharper falls in years before.

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Researchers estimate 1.30 million premature deaths in China in 2013 due to PM2.5 exposure

August 18, 2017

Using new PM2.5 exposure methods, researchers in China have estimated 1.30 million premature deaths in China in 2013 due to PM2.5. Their findings, presented in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, are consistent with other estimates (1.37 million and 1.36 million) calculated using different PM2.5 exposure methods.

Causes of premature death included adult ischemic heart disease (IHD) (0.30 million); cerebrovascular disease (CEV) (0.73 million); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (0.14 million); and lung cancer (LC) (0.13 million) in 2013. The source-oriented modeling determined that industry and residential sources were the two leading sources of increased mortality, contributing to 0.40 (30.5%) and 0.28 (21.7%) million deaths, respectively. Transportation contributed to 5.7% of the premature deaths. Power generation contributed 10.3%.

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EPA, DOT open public comment period on reconsideration of GHG Standards for Cars and Light Trucks

August 10, 2017

In a joint Federal Register notice, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) opened the public comment period on the reconsideration of the January 2017 Final Determination for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years (MY) 2022-2025. (Earlier post.) Separately, EPA is also taking comment on whether the MY 2021 standards are appropriate. The Agency is inviting the public to submit relevant data and information that can inform a final determination of the standards.

In March 2017, EPA and the US Department of Transportation announced the Trump Administration’s decision to revisit the Midterm Evaluation Process, which was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025. This requires EPA to determine, no later than 1 April 2018, whether the 2022-2025 standards determined by the previous administration are appropriate.  If the Agency believes that the final determination issued by the past administration is not realistic, it would submit a new proposal for public comment.

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Wood Mackenzie: EVs could account for 21% of global car fleet by 2035 under carbon-constrained scenario

New analysis by energy, metals and mining consultancy Wood Mackenzie, in collaboration with GTM Research, a Wood Mackenzie company focused on researching decarbonization and the decentralization of energy, suggests that electric vehicles could account for 21% of the global car stock by 2035 under a carbon-constrained scenario.

Wood Mackenzie’s carbon-constrained scenario focuses on consistent, marginal change that will disrupt established markets long before a wholesale switch away from hydrocarbons occurs. Among the elements of the scenario is long-term, double-digit growth for renewable energy—specifically wind and solar power—increasing to 30% of total power supply in 2035, up from 8% today. under the carbon-constrained scenario, petrochemical demand growth remains positive, although to a lesser degree than in the base case. However, the transport sector’s projected adoption of EVs would seriously disrupt oil demand.

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UK issues new guidance on automotive cybersecurity

August 07, 2017

The UK government has issued new guidance on vehicle cybersecurity. The 8 principles—each with more detailed sub-principles—in the guidance set out how the automotive sector can make sure cybersecurity is properly considered at every level, from designers and engineers, through to suppliers and senior level executives.

The government is also looking at a broader program of work announced in this year’s Queen’s speech under the landmark Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Bill that aims to create a new framework for self-driving vehicle insurance.

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German OEMs to upgrade emissions control on 5.3M Euro 5 and 6 diesels, contribute to €500M Sustainable Mobility fund

August 02, 2017

German auto manufacturers will optimize the emissions systems in 5.3 million currently approved Euro 5 and 6 diesels in the country, according to the outcome of the “National Diesel Forum” held in Berlin today between the automotive industry and the German Federal and state governments. The aim is a 30% reduction in NOx emissions from these vehicles by the end of 2018. The automakers will bear the entire cost of the retrofitting, estimated by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) to be at least €500 million.

Among other actions detailed in the declaration of the Forum, the automakers will fund a €500-million “Sustainable mobility for the city” fund. The aim is to develop and implement an individual master plan (“green-city plan”) for each of the 28 regions designated by the EU Commission particularly affected by high NO2 pollution, with digitization, intelligent transport systems, intermodal mobility solutions and with increasing automation and networking in individual and public passenger transport.

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UK unveils new plan to cut NO2; sale of new conventional gasoline and diesel cars to end by 2040; focus on local action

July 26, 2017

The UK Government unveiled its new plan to reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in the shortest amount of time. Among the many policy and funding details in the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, produced by Defra and the Department for Transport is the cessation of the sale of all new conventional gasoline and diesel cars by 2040. Another element in the plan includes possible civil and criminal charges against manufacturers implementing emissions defeat devices, with fines of up to £50,000 (US$65,000) per instance.

The NO2 plan is one element in the Government’s efforts to deliver clean air. In 2018, the Government will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will address other sources of air pollution. Air quality in the UK has been improving significantly in recent decades, with reductions in emissions of all of the key pollutants, and NO2 levels down by half in the last 15 years. Despite this, an analysis of more than 1,800 major roads show that a small number of these—81 or 4%—are due to breach legal pollution limits for NO2, with 33 of these outside of London.

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ICCT assesses factors driving EV market in US cities

July 25, 2017

A new white paper from a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) assesses the growing US electric vehicle market and the factors that are driving it, with a focus on the 50 most populous US metropolitan areas.

Peter Slowik and Nic Lutsey analyze the connections among various state and local policies; public and workplace charging infrastructure; consumer incentives; model availability; and the share of new vehicles that are plug-in electric (both fully electric and plug-in hybrid). The San Jose area had the highest share at 10%, followed by other California areas (4% to 6%) and markets in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington (2% to 4%). Overall, the share of new vehicles that are plug-in electric in these 50 areas is 1.2%, about 3 times the proportion in the rest of the United States.

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San Pedro Bay Ports release draft of 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update; $7-$14 billion price tag

July 21, 2017

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach released the draft of their proposed 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update. The document outlines a new set of aggressive near-term and long-term strategies for the nation’s busiest harbor complex to further reduce harmful air pollution from all port-related sources, assist the state in meeting aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, and ultimately achieve zero emissions for trucks and terminal equipment.

A preliminary analysis estimates the cost of implementing the 2017 CAAP at $7 billion to $14 billion. Given the magnitude of the investment, the draft plan calls for the ports to intensify their funding advocacy and increase collaboration with their partners to finance the new strategies.

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US House subcommittee advances autonomous driving legislation; NHTSA to drive regulations, state role diminished

July 19, 2017

The US House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), today held a markup to advance bipartisan self-driving legislation. This draft legislation passed out of the subcommittee by voice vote.

The legislation clarifies the federal and state roles for regulating highly automated vehicles (HAVs) to encourage the testing, development, and deployment of HAVs in the United States. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have an expanded role covering certification, standards, and rulemakings for highly automated vehicles (HAVs). The states, on the other hand, have a diminished role.

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ifo Institute study projects ban on combustion engines in 2030 would affect 600K jobs in German manufacturing

July 18, 2017

In Germany, legislation banning permits for new cars and light trucks with internal combustion engines as of 2030 is currently under consideration. A new study by the ifo Institute projects that such a ban could lead to significant losses in terms of jobs and added value in Germany. More than 600,000 jobs, or 10%, of jobs in German in manufacturing would currently be directly or indirectly affected by a ban. In the automotive industry alone a ban would endanger 436,000 jobs, while up to 130,000 jobs at small and medium-sized companies would be at risk.

Such a ban would also impact a total of 13% (amounting to around €48 billion) of gross value added. The study was commissioned by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

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Study concludes US CAFE regulation can accelerate EV market penetration

July 09, 2017

In a new study, a team from the University of Central Florida and MIT has found that the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards is an effective policy solution that does increase the adoption of EVs, whether it is implemented alone or in conjunction with another policy such as government incentives.

In a study published in the journal Energy Policy, the researchers developed an agent-based model to estimate the potential future market shares of EVs considering the existing inherent uncertainties under different policy scenarios, including the current footprint-based CAFE regulation.

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ICCT analysis finds 2025 European automotive CO2 standards can be met even if diesel share drops to 15%

July 07, 2017

Diesel has played a major role in the European Union’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from the automotive fleet; the market share of fuel-efficient new diesel cars in the European Union has remained above 50% since 2010. However, in the wake of emission control scandals, increasing concern over NOx-baed air-quality problems in city centers and emerging anti-diesel policy measures, the diesel market share is expected to fall significantly.

This projected shift in market share has raised some concerns over the cost of attainting CO2 emission targets. However, a new analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) suggests that the EU could achieve a hypothetical 70 g/km (as measured according to the New European Driving Cycle – NEDC) passenger vehicle CO2 target in 2025 with both lower net cost and reduced NOx emissions, even with a significantly reduced diesel share.

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Jakarta study finds HOV policy reduced number of cars in city

In March 2016, Jakarta, Indonesia, with a population of more than 30 million, abruptly ended a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policy that required three passengers in a car during peak hours. The sudden halt provided a team from Harvard and MIT with valuable insights into how carpooling affects traffic flow within the megacity.

In a paper published in Science, the team reported that after the policy was abruptly abandoned, delays rose from 2.1 to 3.1 minutes per kilometer (min/km) in the morning peak (a 46% increase) and from 2.8 to 5.3 min/km (an 87% increase) in the evening peak.

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France launches new climate plan; Euro 7 lead; targeting ending the sale of vehicles emitting GHGs by 2040

Nicolas Hulot, France’s new minister responsible for environment and energy, presented the country’s new climate plan at a press conference at the Ministry. Prepared at the request of the President and the Prime Minister, the climate action plan is divided into six main themes: render the Paris Agreement irreversible; improve the daily life of the French; end the use of fossil energy and engage in carbon neutrality; make France the Nº 1 green economy; encourage the potential of ecosystems and agriculture; and intensify international mobilization on climate diplomacy.

Among the many actions outlined in the plan is the targeting of ending the sale of cars emitting greenhouse gases (“gaz à effet de serre”) by 2040. (The plan at this current level of detail does not specify whether or not that is tailpipe emissions or full lifecycle emissions, factoring in upstream for electric vehicles.) France also intends to initiate an ambitious (“ambitieuse”) Euro 7 standard at the European level.

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Volkswagen’s Electrify America supplement discusses ZEV charging investments in disadvantaged California communities

July 03, 2017

Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America last week submitted supplemental information to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) detailing its proposed charging investment in and benefit to underserved, low-income, and disadvantaged communities in the state as part of its court-mandated investment plan. (Earlier post.)

The supplement also adds the Fresno metro area as a focus for community charging investments; outlines an education and outreach proposal targeted at the unique barriers to ZEV use in low-income and disadvantaged communities; and presents a new strategy to explore the use of more affordable pre-owned ZEVs. ARB is initiating its review of the Supplement; the Board will conduct a public hearing later this summer to consider the approval or disapproval, in whole or in part, of the full Investment Plan, which now includes the Supplement.

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Lux Research: question is when--not if--a diesel ban will happen

Based on its analysis of government responses to the Volkswagen diesel scandal as well as to the ongoing publication of research highlighting the adverse effects of NOx and particulate matter on public health, Lux Research has concluded that the question is when—not if—a diesel ban will happen.

Lux Research compiled a non-exhaustive list of major global cities that have either called for a ban or are introducing restrictions to limit the number of diesel vehicles—a step we believes will eventually move towards a ban. The market research organization ranked each city on the likelihood of an eventual ban on diesel vehicles:

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London launches $111M program to upgrade around 5000 older buses to Euro VI emissions standard

June 29, 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a £86.1-million (US$111 million) program to retrofit around 5,000 older buses with a new exhaust system that will upgrade the vehicles to Euro VI emissions standards. By September 2020 the entire bus fleet will be at least Euro VI standard, with the emissions from the retrofitte buses cut by up to 95%.

Transport for London (TfL) will work with bus operators and five chosen suppliers to install the new bespoke exhaust systems which will reduce nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Diesel Particulate filters will also be installed alongside this Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment to reduce air pollution.

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ICCT calculates consumer benefits of increased efficiency in 2025-2030 light-duty vehicles in the US

June 23, 2017

A new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates Consumer benefits of increased efficiency in 2025-2030 light-duty vehicles in the US.

According to the analysis, under current standards, buyers of model year 2025 vehicles would fully recoup the extra cost for technology in the vehicle in the third year of ownership under a cash-purchase scenario. Those who finance their vehicles will see a net positive cash flow—again, specific to the additional cost of technology—starting immediately. Consumer benefits would be more than 3 times the costs of the standards. Fuel savings are 2.4 times the costs if fuel prices stay low for the next several decades.

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GAC Motor targeting 1M unit sales by 2020, 20% new energy vehicles; entering US market by 2019; transition to electric “may be quite long”

June 19, 2017

GAC Motor was one of the few automakers, and the only Chinese auto brand, to take the main stage at last week’s Michelin Movin’On 2017 global sustainable mobility summit in Montreal. During his talk, Yu Jun, president of GAC Motor, said that his rapidly growing company is targeting sales of 1 million units annually by 2020, with 20% of those being new energy vehicles.

Yu said that GAC plans to introduce seven new energy vehicle models—including both electric and hybrid plug-in designs—to the market this year. GAC has already established its first North America R&D Center in Silicon Valley, and plans to to enter the US market no later than 2019.

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CIEH criticizes UK gov for shifting air quality problem to local authorities, CAZ strategy; wants vehicle crackdown, more ZEVs, ULEVs

June 15, 2017

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has criticized the Government’s air quality plans for unfairly shifting the burden to solve the problem to local authorities, while abdicating themselves of responsibility.

The membership body for environmental health professionals released details of its submission to the Government’s consultation on plans to improve air quality in the UK. CIEH’s chief complaint is the Government has failed to recognize poor air quality is a national issue. CIEH asserts that solving air pollution in the UK requires action from central government rather than offloading responsibility onto local authorities, who are being set-up for failure if the proposed plans are to go ahead.

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California legislature exploring linking autonomy and electrification

California legislators are exploring linking autonomy and electrification. At the end of May, Senate Bill 802, authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), received bipartisan support and passed the Senate floor with a vote of 26-11. It now goes to the Assembly for consideration.

SB 802 would direct the Office of Planning and Research to convene an Emerging Vehicle Advisory Study Group on or before 1 April 2018, to review policies regarding new types of motor vehicles, including, but not limited to, autonomous vehicles and shared-use vehicles. The bill would require the study group to provide recommendations to the Legislature on or before 1 April 2019 “regarding policies and incentives to maximize the social benefits, minimize the social costs, and encourage the electrification and hybridization of new types of motor vehicles operating in California, including, but not limited to, autonomous vehicles and shared-use vehicles.”

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California and China partner in push for ZEVs; new working group to expand cooperation

June 08, 2017

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols met with officials of China’s leading automakers and battery manufacturers in an effort to expand cooperation and accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars, trucks and buses.

At the close of the meeting, Governor Brown and Chair Nichols agreed to establish a new working group through the China-US ZEV Policy Lab at UC Davis to expand cooperation with Chinese zero-emission vehicle and battery technology companies. The lab is a partnership established in 2014 between UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC).

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Government of Canada to develop a national Zero-Emissions Vehicle strategy by 2018

May 26, 2017

The Government of Canada is moving forward with provincial and territorial partners, industry and stakeholders, to develop a national strategy to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVS)—battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles—on Canadian roads by 2018.

Transportation accounts for about 24% of Canada’s emissions, mostly from cars and trucks. In 2015, light-duty vehicle emissions accounted for approximately 50% of Canada’s transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and 12% of the country’s total emissions. ZEVs offer the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly from the light-duty vehicle sector.

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Proposed 2018 Trump budgets cuts EPA funding 31.4%, DOE 5.6%, DOT 12.7%, NSF 10.7%

May 23, 2017

The Trump Administration released its proposed FY 2018 budget, which it calls “A New Foundation for American Greatness”. To help achieve the Administration’s overall budget goal in 10 years, the FY2018 budget includes $3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years, the most ever proposed by any President in a budget.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeted for the largest percentage reduction in FY 2018, with a $2.6-billion cut (31.4%) in discretionary spending to a proposed $5.7 billion. The US Department of Energy (DOE) faces a $1.7-billion cut (5.6%) to $28 billion, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) faces a $2.4-billion cut (12.7%) to $16.2 billion, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) is looking at a cut of $800 million (10.7%) to $6.7 billion. (Health and Human Services faces the largest dollar cut: $12.7 billion, or 16.2%).

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155 businesses and industry groups send letter of support for California LCFS in current and possibly more stringent future forms

May 12, 2017

As California policymakers consider options to extend the state’s landmark climate change laws to 2030 and beyond, 155 businesses and industry groups sent a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in support of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)—in its current form and also in its potentially more stringent future state.

Approved in 2009 and first implemented in 2011, the LCFS requires California fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels at least 10% by 2020, by phasing in less carbon-intensive fuel technologies. In five years—2011 to 2016—the LCFS helped encourage a 57% uptick in the use of clean fuels in California.

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ICCT study examines current & projected use of heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping; growth in BC emissions points to need for policies

May 08, 2017

A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates heavy fuel oil (HFO) use, HFO carriage, the use and carriage of other fuels, black carbon (BC) emissions, and emissions of other air and climate pollutants for the year 2015, with projections to 2020 and 2025.

According to the report, potentially large increases in BC emissions may occur in the Arctic, further exacerbating warming, if ships are diverted from the Panama and Suez canals to take advantage of shorter routes to and from Asia, Europe, and North America. If even a small percentage (1%–2%) of large cargo vessels are diverted from the Panama and Suez Canals through the Arctic over the next decade, BC emissions could rise significantly—jumping up to 46% from 2015 to 2025.

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California has invested $559M in cap-and-trade funds in ZEVs; state represents more than 40% of US ZEV sales

May 04, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced that California Climate Investments in zero-emission vehicles have reached $599 million since 2013, putting hundreds of thousands of ultra-clean cars, and entire fleets of zero-emission trucks and buses on California roads and highways. ARB made the announcement at the annual Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach.

The funding is from California Climate Investments, a statewide program that invests billions of cap-and-trade dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. Since the transportation sector overall is by far the largest contributor to the state’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions, a major focus of the climate investment program has been supporting the development and deployment of next-generation zero-emission trucks, cars and buses.

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California Governor signs $52B fuel tax and vehicle fee bill for transportation infrastructure; $100 ZEV fee

April 30, 2017

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law SB1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The bill will raise $52.4 billion over the next decade through an increase in fuel taxes and vehicle fees—including on zero emission vehicles (ZEVs)—to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and put more dollars toward transit and safety.

The package is funded in the following ways:

  • $7.3 billion by increasing diesel excise tax 20 cents (currently $0.13) on 1 November 2017.

  • $3.5 billion by increasing diesel sales tax to 5.75% on 1 November 2017.

  • $24.4 billion by increasing gasoline excise tax 12 cents (currently $0.30) on 1 November 2017.

  • $16.3 billion from an annual transportation improvement fee based on a vehicle’s value starting 1 January 2018

  • $200 million from an annual $100 Zero Emission Vehicle fee starting 1 July 2020.

  • $706 million in General Fund loan repayments.

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London and Paris launch car scoring initiative based on real-world emissions; ICCT the technical lead

March 29, 2017

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities Anne Hidalgo and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced they are working together to create schemes to score new cars based on their real-world emissions and their impact on air quality and to provide that data in an accurate and accessible form to the public. Other cities have committed to work with the C40 Cities toward adoption of similar schemes.

The initiative announced today by Paris and London is supported by The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, and the Joshua and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund. This new undertaking will capture detailed information on pollutants from vehicle exhaust using remote-sensing equipment and portable emissions monitoring systems. The ICCT will be the lead technical organizational partner managing vehicle testing and data analysis in the TRUE Project.

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National Academies report finds EPA’s controlled human exposure studies of air pollution are warranted

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carries out controlled human inhalation exposure (CHIE) studies in which volunteer participants agree to be intentionally exposed by inhalation to specific pollutants at restricted concentrations over short periods to obtain important information about the effects of outdoor air pollution on human health.

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means; and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.

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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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California ARB moves forward with climate and air quality actions

March 24, 2017

On the first day of a two-day board meeting—the second day of which (Friday 24 March) will consider the Advanced Clean Cars Midterm Review—the California Air Resources Board (ARB) took a number of climate and air quality actions. CARB approved the State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan (State SIP Strategy), which describes CARB’s commitment for further reducing vehicle emissions needed to meet federal air quality standards over the next 15 years. The Board also approved the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s comprehensive air quality plan.

CARB also adopted a new plan to curb destructive “super pollutants” including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. The plan, California’s Short-lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, maps out the route to more rapid greenhouse gas reductions by clamping down on these super pollutants.

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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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Trump’s proposed FY 2018 budget cuts overall DOE budget 5.6%; eliminates ARPA-E, ITLGP, ATVMP

March 16, 2017

The Trump Administration has released its “America First” budget blueprint for the FY 2018 budget. The core of the blueprint is a $54-billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions in other areas.

For the Department of Energy (DOE), the blueprint requests $28.0 billion—a $1.7-billion (5.6%) decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. Within that, the proposed budget would provide a $1.4-billion increase above the 2017 annualized CR level for the National Nuclear Security Administration—an 11% increase. The new budget proposal focuses resources toward early-stage research and development of energy technologies and reflects increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development, and commercialization.

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Joint CEC, CARB annual report details progress in build-out of hydrogen refueling infrastructure

January 25, 2017

The California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board released the annual Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2016 Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California. The 2016 Joint Report updates the time and cost assessments to design, permit, construct, and make hydrogen refueling stations operational and open retail for the stations funded under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

As of 5 December 2016, California has 25 open retail stations selling hydrogen for use as a transportation fuel with 23 more open retail stations under development. Combined with two additional California Air Resources Board-funded stations that are open non-retail (in Harbor City and at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)), California’s hydrogen refueling station network comprises 50 stations. When the 2015 Joint Report was published, six stations were open retail.

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California utilities submit projects to CPUC to expand EV infrastructure, adoption and awareness

January 23, 2017

Three investor-owned California utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)—have submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) outlining programs and investments aimed at achieving multiple electric transportation and emission-reduction goals set by the governor and state agencies.

The applications filed demonstrate the utilities’ support of the objectives in Senate Bill 350 (De León) [Chapter 547, Statutes of 2015] which called upon utilities “to file applications for programs and investments to accelerate widespread transportation electrification to reduce dependence on petroleum, meet air quality standards, achieve the goals set forth in the Charge Ahead California Initiative, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

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California ARB releases proposed new plan to cut 2030 GHG by 40% v. 1990; more stringent LCFS, more ZEVs

January 21, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the proposed scoping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. (Earlier post.) The plan builds on the state’s efforts to reduce emissions and outlines the most effective ways to reach the 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade Program.

Achieving the 2030 target under the proposed plan will continue to build on investments in clean energy and set the California economy on a trajectory to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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CARB releases Midterm Review of ZEV regulation, LEV III GHG and PM standards; calls for post-2025 standards

January 19, 2017

When the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program in 2012 (earlier post), the agency committed to conduct a comprehensive midterm review of three elements of the program: the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation; the 1 mg/mi particulate matter (PM) standard; and the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards for 2022 and later model years. ARB has now released the Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program—an extensive evaluation of the California passenger vehicle market and technology.

The Review finds that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012. The report also finds that ZEV technology has seen significant development that, in many cases, is beyond what was envisioned just four years ago. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

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13 global companies launch Hydrogen Council in Davos; promoting hydrogen to help meet climate goals

January 17, 2017

Thirteen leading energy, transport and industry companies have launched a global initiative in Davos to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition.

Meeting in Davos for the first time on Tuesday, the Hydrogen Council currently comprises 13 CEOs and Chairpersons from various industries and energy companies committed to help achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2 ˚C target as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The international companies currently involved are: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total and Toyota. The Council is led by two Co-Chairs from different geographies and sectors, currently represented by Air Liquide and Toyota. The members of the Hydrogen Council collectively represent total revenues of €1.07 trillion and 1.72 million employees around the world.

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U Chicago study proposes market-based approach to fuel economy standards to deal with impacts of fuel price volatility

January 10, 2017

Volatile gasoline prices have caused some regulators and carmakers alike to question the cost and effectiveness of current fuel economy standards, with some arguing they are too stringent and others saying they should be even stronger. A new study by Ryan Kellogg, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and author of the study, evaluates the current approach and proposes a novel, market-based alternative: indexing the standard to rise and fall with the price of gasoline.

When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the joint regulations for light-duty CO2 emissions and fuel economy respectively, they developed their estimates of future achieved efficiency levels, program costs and benefits on government projections of continuously rising fuel prices.

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Reseachers attribute suddent surge in China PEV sales to massive subsidies and huge non-monetary incentives

January 09, 2017

Sales of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) in China—battery-electric and plug-in hybrid—suddenly soared 343% in 2015 to about 331,000 units—more than 3 times the number sold in the US that year. China-based BYD is now the world’s leading manaufacturer of PEVs, jumping ahead of Nissan and Tesla. Six other China OEMs are among the top 20 PEV manufacturers.

However, notes a team from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis and CATARC (China Automotive Technology and Research Center), just the year before PEV sales were stagnant, despite large subsidies and incentives. In a new paper in the journal Energy Policy, they explore the factors behind the surge and ways to maintain the strength of the market.

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California Public Utilities Commission approves PG&E EV charging program for 7,500 charging stations in NorCal

December 16, 2016

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously voted to approve Charge Smart and Save, a program initiated by Pacific Gas & Electric to deploy 7,500 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across Northern California. Under the approved program, PG&E will primarily deploy stations at multi-family dwellings and workplaces, with electricity price based on time-of-use to encourage drivers to fill up during off-peak hours or when renewable energy is abundant.

The approval for PG&E’s $130-million program builds on vehicle infrastructure programs approved for Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric earlier this year, which combined will result in a total of 5,000 charging stations deployed in Southern California. (Earlier post.) Each program has a goal of using lessons learned to improve future, larger scale deployments in the state.

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Uber launches self-driving pilot in San Francisco with Volvo Cars

December 14, 2016

Uber is expanding its self-driving pilot to San Francisco, California, using specially-converted self-driving Volvo XC90 premium SUVs. This marks the next phase in a deepening alliance between Volvo and Uber after the two companies signed an agreement in August 2016 to establish a jointly-owned project to build base vehicles that can be used to develop fully autonomous driverless cars. (Earlier post.) These cars were initially tested in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The latest cars to be used in San Francisco have been built by Volvo and sold to Uber, after which Uber’s own self-driving hardware and software package has been added, most visibly in the roof-mounted control apparatus. Volvo Cars and Uber are contributing a combined US$300 million to the project. Both Uber and Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of their own autonomous car strategies.

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Not So Prolific: US Shale Faces A Reality Check

by James Stafford of Oilprice.com

The collapse of oil prices has forced the US shale industry to slash production costs. In order to improve the breakeven costs for the average shale well, the industry has deployed three general strategies: improving techniques and technology, such as drilling longer laterals or using more frac sand; focusing drilling on the sweet spots; and demanding lower prices from oilfield service companies. All three of those strategies led to a decline in the breakeven price for a shale wells.

But while the industry plays up the efficiency gains, highlighting enhanced technology and better management, merely focusing on the sweet spots has been “nearly twice as important as better technology in reducing well costs,” as The Post Carbon Institute (PCI) notes in a report published on Monday, 2016 Tight Oil Reality Check. This is a process known as “high-grading.” In fact, the so-called efficiency gains over the past two years are a lot less impressive once you dig into the causes.

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Study: growth in aviation and shipping GHG emissions will undo 43% of savings from rest of transport in Europe through 2030

December 12, 2016

Growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping and aviation, based on demand for liquid fossil fuels, will undo nearly half (43%) of the

savings expected to be made by the rest of transport in Europe through to 2030, according to a new study by consultant CE Delft, commissioned by environmental NGO Transport & Environment.

Under measures already in place, land transport is expected to consume 43 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010, according to calculations on the European Commission’s projections for greenhouse gas emissions to 2050 by consultant CE Delft. Even this 43 Mtoe cut is less than half of what will be required from land transport under the EU’s proposed 2030 Effort Sharing Regulation.

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Global Automakers calls on EPA to withdraw proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 GHG standards, get back in alignment with NHTSA, provide more time

December 08, 2016

Global Automakers, the trade association representing the US divisions of 12 international automakers (Aston Martin, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Maserati, McLaren, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota), has called on the EPA either to withdraw its proposed determination on MY 2022-2025 light duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards or to extend the comment period. On 30 November, EPA proposed leaving the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for those model years in place, based on its technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet the targets, and proposed a 30-day comment period. (Earlier post.)

The final standards are projected to result in an average industry fleet-wide level of 163 grams/mile of CO2 in model year 2025, which is equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.31 l/100 km), if achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements.

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Study finds renewable natural gas could meet ~85% of current natural gas use in transport in California by 2020s; much higher volumes possible with right policies

December 05, 2016

A study by a team from UC Davis for the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has found that the state could produce 14 bcf (billion cubic feet) per year of renewable natural gas (RNG) (biomethane) by the 2020s, meeting roughly 85% of current natural gas use in transport California at LCFS (Low Carbon Fuel Standard) credits of $120 per metric ton of CO2.

In addition, RNG use could be much higher if the LCFS credits were combined with US federal RIN credits (Renewable Identification Number, part of the Renewable Fuels Standard, RFS), the study found. Given the appropriate policy and market measures, the state’s RNG production potential is 90.6 bcf/yr (≈ 750 million gasoline gallons). The main barriers to large-scale RNG use are the state’s high cost of pipeline interconnect and the cost of upgrading to pipeline standards.

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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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GAO study concludes Renewable Fuel Standard will miss advanced biofuel program targets; EPA generally concurs

November 29, 2016

A new study from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that the Renewable Fuel Standard program will miss its advanced biofuel targets due to the the high costs of creating advanced biofuel; the relatively low price of fossil fuel; the timing and cost to bring new tech to commercial-scale production; regulatory uncertainty; and other issues as challenges to increased production.

GAO was asked by Congress to review issues related to advanced biofuels R&D. The report describes (1) how the federal government has supported advanced biofuels R&D in recent years and where its efforts have been targeted; and (2) expert views on the extent to which advanced biofuels are technologically understood and the factors that will affect the speed and volume of production. GAO interviewed DOD, DOE, EPA, NSF, and USDA officials and worked with the National Academy of Sciences to convene a meeting of experts from industry, academia, and research organizations. EPA generally agreed with the conclusions of the report, the GAO said.

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California Air Resources Board posts revised draft of strategy to reduce “Super Pollutants”

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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NHTSA proposes guidelines to address driver distraction caused by mobile devices in vehicles

November 23, 2016

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed guidelines to help address driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. The release marks the second phase of voluntary guidelines to address driver distraction on US roads; the first phase, released in 2013, focused on devices or systems built into the vehicle at the time of manufacture. (Earlier post.)

Currently, no safety guidelines exist for portable device technologies (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and navigation devices) and aftermarket devices (i.e., devices installed in the vehicle after manufacture) when they are used during a driving task. The proposed proposed, voluntary guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, in which a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode—a simplified user interface.

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ICCT: 2025 target average of 70 g/km CO2 for new cars in EU feasible and economical; more so with electric drive

November 22, 2016

A 2025 CO2 target of an average 70 g/km for new cars in the EU could be met with very little electrification and with an average payback period of less than 4 years, according to a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). However, transitioning soon to electric drive could lower manufacturers’ compliance costs by as much as €500 (US$532) per vehicle in 2025.

Under current European Union regulations, average new car CO2 emissions must decrease from the present 120 grams per kilometer (g/km) to 95 g/km by 2021. Although no further reductions are presently mandated, new targets for 2025 and 2030 are under discussion in Brussels. In 2013 the European Parliament recommended an “indicative range” of 68–78 g/km for 2025, while holding out the possibility that even lower targets should be considered if justified.

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US offshore oil and gas leasing plan for 2017-2022 focuses on Gulf of Mexico, excludes Arctic

November 19, 2016

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Hopper released the final plan to guide future energy development for the Nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2017-2022. The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas—10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas planning areas in the Arctic are not included in the Proposed Final Program. The Proposed Final Program makes available areas containing approximately 70% of the economically recoverable resources in the OCS.

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8 countries commit to increase the share of EVs in their government fleets

November 16, 2016

At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (COP22), eight nations—Canada, China, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US—signed a Government Fleet Declaration, pledging to increase the share of electric vehicles in their government fleets and calling for other governments to join them. The Declaration was developed under the aegis of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicles Initiative (CEM-EVI).

There is no common quantified target in the Declaration; some of the signatories have their own specific numeric goals, such as China. The Declaration emphasizes the renewal of government fleets and showcases specific and voluntary commitments of these countries to accelerate the introduction of low-emission vehicles in their vehicle fleets.

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T&E report: electric cars sales in Europe doubled in 2015; now at 1% market share

November 14, 2016

Roughly 145,000 new electric vehicles (EV) were sold in Europe in 2015—double the 2014 tally, according to a recent T&E report. EV sales have now reached the milestone of a 1% market share; figures for 2016 to date suggest significantly more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold in Europe this year. That would take the total number of EVs on the road to more than half a million cars.

Currently, there are 34 EV models on the European market available, including battery-, plug-in-hybrid- and range-extended-electric vehicles. Established manufacturers have announced new plans to expand their portfolio of EVs within the next five years. Although EVs still constitute only a fraction of all car models available, Europe (including Switzerland and Norway) is the second biggest EV market in the world behind China.

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Orange EV approved to give up to $150K discount for electric terminal trucks with NY EV vouchers

November 13, 2016

Orange EV, a manufacturer of battery-electric heavy-duty trucks, announced that fleets in the state of New York can now save up to $150,000 per T-Series pure electric terminal truck (the 160 kWh model; the 80 kWh model is approved for a $123,960 voucher). Discounts are enabled by the New York State Electric Vehicle – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYSEV-VIF). Vouchers may be requested through December 31, 2016.

NYSEV-VIF has $9 million available in voucher incentives for all-electric battery vehicles. The vehicle must be domiciled (registered and garaged) and operate 70% of the time in one of New York State’s 30 counties currently in non-attainment.

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ICCT paper assesses leading regional EV markets in US and policies behind them

November 11, 2016

A new white paper from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) assesses which policy actions are behind the regional leading markets in the US for electric vehicles. The white paper identifies the areas with the highest shares of EVs and catalogues the actions that support EV uptake. The assessment includes promotion actions by state policy (e.g., regulation, purchasing incentives), local policy (e.g., parking and lane access incentives, building codes), utility actions (e.g., charging infrastructure incentives, preferential charging rates), and public charging availability.

The base regional unit for the study was the metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The authors defined regions as the Midwest, Mountain, Northeast, South, and West, based on the US Census (2016). Within the West region, they considered California separately because the state’s long-time focus on emissions regulations and electric vehicles makes it an outlier and benchmark for the rest of the country. In each region, the authors identified the four leading metropolitan areas with the highest electric vehicle share in each region. Only areas with populations of more than 50,000 were included in the study.

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Study finds CO2 emissions trading more effective path to automotive CO2 reduction in Europe than tailpipe standards

A new study by researchers at MIT and colleagues in Europe has found that rather than adopting a standard for automotive fuel economy ratings, as the United States has done with its CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for many years, the EU could achieve the same results for CO2 emission reduction at far lower cost to the economy by simply extending their existing emissions-trading system to encompass transportation rather than just electricity generation and energy intensive industry.

The European Union (EU) recently adopted CO2 emissions mandates for new passenger cars, requiring steady reductions to 95 gCO2/km in 2021. Switching from the automotive standards to the trading scheme could save as much as €63 billion, says the study’s lead author Sergey Paltsev, deputy director at MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and senior research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative. The results are published in the journal Transportation.

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Study finds pollution emitted near equator has biggest impact on global ozone

November 09, 2016

Since the 1980s, air pollution has increased worldwide, but it has increased at a much faster pace in regions close to the equator. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado, Boulder and their colleagues have now shown that this changing global emissions map is creating more total tropospheric ozone worldwide compared to the amount of pollution being emitted, signaling an effect that could be difficult to reign in without strategic policy planning.

In the study, published in Nature Geoscience, the team used a global chemical transport model to simulate changes in tropospheric ozone concentrations from 1980 to 2010, and to separate the influences of changes in the spatial distribution of global anthropogenic emissions of short-lived pollutants, the magnitude of these emissions, and the global atmospheric methane concentration. They found that the increase in ozone burden due to the spatial distribution change slightly exceeds the combined influences of the increased emission magnitude and global methane.

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Berkeley study finds clean vehicle rebates have predominantly benefited wealthy, white Californians

November 08, 2016

The distribution of California’s clean vehicle rebates across different socioeconomic groups has been uneven, with higher income groups more likely to receive rebates, according to a new study by a team from the University of California, Berkeley. The analysis, published in the journal Transportation Research Record further suggests that census tracts where the majority of the population is Hispanic or African-American are less likely to receive rebates, even when income is accounted for.

Researchers Dana Rubin and Evelyne St-Louis, two recent graduates of the University of California, Berkeley’s master’s program in city and regional planning, analyzed 98,901 rebates issued to Californians buying or leasing low-emission vehicles from the inception of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in 2010 through March 2015.

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UNICEF: 300M children worldwide breathing air exceeding WHO pollution guidelines by 6x or more

October 31, 2016

Almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution—six or more times higher than international guidelines set by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO)—according to a new UNICEF report.

The report, “Clear the Air for Children”, uses satellite imagery to show that some 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution, caused by factors such as vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste, exceeds WHO minimum air quality guidelines. The findings come a week ahead of the COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, where UNICEF is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries.

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CARB approves $363M plan that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities; low-carbon transportation, ZEVs, scrap-and-replace pilot

October 21, 2016

The California Air Resources Board has adopted a revised funding plan for proceeds from the cap-and-trade program that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities. The investments range from supporting increased numbers of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The revised plan for fiscal year 2016-17 keeps much of the original funding plan (approved in June 2016) intact while addressing the smaller budget appropriation of $363 million under AB 1613 and additional direction from the Legislature. Key highlights of the revised plan include:

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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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ICCT study finds that transitioning to low-GWP MAC refrigerants in China could avoid up to US$150B in costs

September 25, 2016

A new study from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) assesses the feasibility, benefits, and costs of phasing out HFC-134a as the refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems in the Chinese LDV fleet, focusing on three alternatives with lower global warming potential (GWP) most likely to be adopted by automakers with a global supply chain: HFO-1234yf, HFC-152a, and CO2.

Among the findings of the report, “HFC-134a phase-out in the Chinese light-duty motor vehicle sector”, was that, considering the social cost of CO2e, up to 1 trillion RMB in costs (US$150 billion) required to address climate change could be avoided through 2050 by transitioning to low-GWP alternative MACs.

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DOT issues Federal Policy for safe testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles (SAE levels 3-5)

September 20, 2016

The US Department of Transportation issued Federal policy for highly automated vehicles (HAVs)—i.e., SAE Levels 3-5 vehicles with automated systems that are responsible for monitoring the driving environment as defined by SAE J3016.

Although the primary focus of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy is on highly automated vehicles, or those in which the vehicle can take full control of the driving task in at least some circumstances, portions of the policy also apply to lower levels of automation, including some of the driver-assistance systems already being deployed by automakers today. The newly released policy embodies four key elements:

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