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G8 Backs Hybrids, Diesels, Biofuels, Synthetics and Hydrogen for Transportation

US President George Bush arriving for the first working session in a GEM. Credit: G8russia

Following the first working session of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, the group of eight leaders adopted a document on energy security that—among the other principles it embraced—emphasized diversification of energy supply and demand and energy sources; energy saving and energy efficiency measures on both national and international levels; and deployment and transfer of clean energy technologies which help to tackle climate change.

The document does not specify quantitative goals or reduction targets for any elements of the outlined 55-point action plan.

Transportation received specific mention and its own section of the plan.

Since 2/3 of world oil is consumed by the transportation sector and its fuel consumption is outpacing general energy consumption we will pay special attention to this sector of energy demand.

Specific actions mentioned in the document include:

  • Sharing best practices to promote energy efficiency in the transportation sector;

  • Developing programs in the respective countries, consistent with national circumstances, to provide incentives for consumers to adopt efficient vehicles, including clean diesels and hybrids;

  • Introducing on a large scale efficient public hybrid and/or clean diesel transportation systems, where appropriate;

  • Promoting diversification of vehicle energy systems based on new technologies, including significant sourcing from biofuels for motor vehicles, as well as greater use of compressed and liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and synthetic liquid fuels;

  • Promoting wider use of modern technologies, materials and devices on traditional vehicles, leading to lighter, more aerodynamic and more efficient engines and other transport components such as transmission and steering systems, tires, etc.;

  • Increasing research to develop vehicles using gasoline/hydrogen fuel and hydrogen fuel cells to promote the “hydrogen economy”;

  • Facilitating the development of trans-modal and trans-border transportation, where appropriate; and

  • Studying further the Blue Corridor project [a project to establish international corridors in Europe for natural gas vehicles] by the UN Economic Commission for Europe;

  • Continuing to consider the impact of the air transport sector on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions noting international cooperation on these issues.

The document also highlights the importance of diversifying the energy mix, and developing low-carbon, alternative energy and renewables.

A large-scale use of renewable energy will make a significant contribution to long-term energy supply without adverse impact on climate. The renewable solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal energy resources are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional fuels, and a wide variety of current applications are already cost-effective. Therefore, we reaffirm our commitment to implement measures set out in the Gleneagles Plan of Action.

The document also encourages the activities of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) aimed at preparing and implementing demonstration projects on CO2 capture and storage and on the development of zero-emission power plants.

In this context we will facilitate development and introduction of clean coal technologies wherever appropriate.

The assembled leaders declared their support for the transition to the Hydrogen Economy, “including in the framework of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE).”

While recognizing that some of its members are not that enthusiastic about nuclear power, while others are, the G8 document emphasized managing the process of the expansion of nuclear energy.

We recognize that G8 members pursue different ways to achieve energy security and climate protection goals. Those of us who have or are considering plans relating to the use and/or development of safe and secure nuclear energy believe that its development will contribute to global energy security, while simultaneously reducing harmful air pollution and addressing the climate change challenge.

We reaffirm the objective set out in the 2004 G8 Action Plan on Non-Proliferation to allow reliable access of all countries to nuclear energy on a competitive basis, consistent with non-proliferation commitment and standards. Building on that plan, we intend to make additional joint efforts to ensure reliable access to low enriched uranium for power reactor fuel and spent fuel recycling, including, as appropriate, through a multilateral mechanisms provided that the countries adhere to all relevant international non-proliferation commitments and comply with their obligations.

The G8 also stated that it expects hydrocarbons will play a leading role in the energy mix well into the century.

Therefore we will work with the private sector to accelerate utilization of innovative technologies that advance more efficient hydrocarbon production and reduce the environmental impact of its production and use. These include technologies for deep-sea oil and gas production, oil production from bitumen sands, clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage, extraction of gas from gas-hydrates and production of synthetic fuel.



John Schreiber

Turning off one's engine at traffic lights, and restarting it when the crossing traffic's light turns yellow yields a 4-5 MPG increase in city average fuel economy.


"I hope you're kidding about the with the tax increasing $0.25 per year until it hits $3 per gallon"

I believe he meant until the tax itself is $3/gal. This could be revenue-neutral with a commensurate reduction in payroll taxes.

"Perhaps the greatest benefit the war in the Middle East could provide is to rouse us into a sensible energy policy. A gas tax could help avert the next crisis before it begins.

If we're willing to send half a million fellow citizens into battle, to protect oil supplies and our economic way of life, we should be no less willing to make the small sacrifice of paying more for gasoline. A revenue-neutral plan that reduced Social Security taxes by $1 billion for every penny a gallon of gas tax would leave the working poor and middle class better off than before. In the long term, the whole country would benefit from reducing the hidden tax of pollution, congestion and dependence on foreign oil.

ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON Cambridge, Mass.,The writer is an assistant professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

I only posted that entire message for one reason... check the date: January 18, 1991.

Rafael Seidl

lensovet -

I suspect that original.Jeff's $3 referred not to the price at the pump but the eventual level of the fuel tax over and above that. In other words, after 12 years of cumulative tax raises, you'd be paying $6-$9 for a gallon of gas, depending on where you are, general inflation and how the price of oil changes between now and ~2020.

Note that Europeans are paying $6-$7 per US gallon *today*, so in purely economic terms, the levels indicated above are hardly excessive for 2020. Politics is another matter, of course, because Americans tend to jerk their knees at the mere mention of taxation. It's really just an instrument for achieving policy objectives.

Personally, I would like to see any additional fuel tax raised in the US immediately disbursed by way of flat income tax credits (x2 if filing jointly). Obviously, you could bump up your tax withholding to avoid having to wait for a large refund in May/June. The objective is to shift the tax base away from income and toward consumption/asset deterioration in a socially acceptable way, without any net increase in the total tax take.

This redistribution would reward those who consume less fuel than the average Joe, whether it is because they drive fewer miles or they get more miles out of each gallon. Note that this scheme would inherently require consumers to "keep up with the Joneses" in terms of reducing their fuel use.

The amount politicians would have available for their pet projects would NOT increase, nor would the scheme perversely get them hooked on fuel taxes as a primary source of state income (unfortunately, this is the case in Europe).

Of course, the logic could be extended to all uses of carbonaceous energy, but I reckon automotive fuels are as good a place to start as any.


In an ideal world people would use these golf-cart like vehicles for city traffic. (like the vehcicle on the picture, with the President)


Thank you for your thoughts, NBK. I agree with everything you've said here; I don't believe that politicians will ever do the right thing out of any situation short of necessity, but the global political and market climate is definitely moving in that direction even if our supposed "world leaders" are not.

And Wells, I would postulate that big business is as much a blight on the face of the planet as it is a cure. The conscience of those looking to save the environment won't ever move the hearts of those looking to capitalize their profits, but therein also lies the rub: if the money happens to be in alternative energy sources, then that's where the jackals will go. And right now, that's exactly what the market is doing. A projected 100+ billion dollars will be invested in new energy research, development and promotion over the next few years; none of it with any substantial endorsement or propulsion from the G8 leaders themselves.

Money talks, bottom line. The markets and those behind them may be a nest of vipers, but they're ultimately self-serving; not suicidal.


I'm surprised they allowed Pres. Bush to do the driving himself. Or was it just for a photo op?

Joseph Willemssen

I'm surprised they allowed Pres. Bush to do the driving himself. Or was it just for a photo op?

He's practicing for his next career. :)

Humor, folks - humor. Don't bite me.


I had to read Rafael Seidl's suggestion about fuel tax and tax credit a few times and after I did it makes sense. I'm a big fan of market forces but in this case, the market needs a push from national interests. That means using increasing fuel cost (through taxes not speculation) to bring radical (not timid) changes to our transportation infrastructure.
The only way that will happen is if enough political power is build behind the idea. If we split down the middle again as in many tough issues, we end up going nowhere and cede our future to likes of Iran and Venezuela.
Let's get the polical parties together and change now rather than leave the problem to our kids and grandkids.


Already, the high prices of oil are getting to be too much for OPEC to bear. They see Americans are starting to clamor for better fuel efficiency and particularly, alternative sources for transportation fuel (slowly we are changing in the US, and if the price of oil spikes high enough we really might make larger changes faster). Now they are actually trying to distance themselves from Hezzbollah and bring peace to the area (most likely out of fear that the higher oil prices will spurn innovations and change in the US). This is the first time in nearly 60 years that the mid-east is actually (partially) siding with Israel and this seems to me to be their fear of losing an economic stranglehold on the developed nations of the world.


Cool tone of Saudia and Egypt toward Hezbollah is mostly because it is Shiite movement, and they hate their guts.


“..jerk knee reaction..” – now you begin to grasp with US reality! What’s the point repeatedly propose something (fuel tax high enough to force down fuel consumption of American drivers), when there is no chance to achieve this?


I have big doubts about tax “revenue neutral” feature. Do not forget also about loopholes and high cost of administering tax collection and redistribution.

My grave concern is that it also will be based on false (IMHO) ideology of reduction of GHG emissions goal, which will distort and twist to unrecognizable level all good intentions of that tax.

I am not against all fuel taxation. I already proposed blanket imported crude oil tax (except for Canada and Mexico due to NAFTA agreement) to boost oil independency of North American economy. I would be glad to pay additional tax to subsidize city public transportation to make it free for users – imagine how fast passengers will step off and in if freely using all doors of the bus. I also quietly pay high Canadian taxes for gasoline and do not moan about it.


"This is the first time in nearly 60 years that the mid-east is actually (partially) siding with Israel and this seems to me to be their fear of losing an economic stranglehold on the developed nations of the world."

I have to admit, this is a pretty interesting development. Maybe OPEC's coming to grips with the fact that once their cash cow is no longer the backbone of the global marketplace, they're going to be sitting on a whole lot of sand and a world of shit.

Provided the whole area doesn't implode in the next week or so. Fun times.


Indeed.  Before technology gave value to oil, the Arabian peninsula was a desert populated by barbarians.  The internal combustion engine gave value to oil, and money made Arabia a world power.

What science and technology have done, they can un-do.  Ships, cars, trucks and planes running on oil drove economic and military advantage since the 1920's.  Now the downside has become glaringly obvious, and look... we have technologies like nuclear ships, battery cars and direct-carbon fuel cells.  Maybe by 2020, the Arabian peninsula will once more be a desert full of savages traveling it on camels.


So if you are not an economic superpower you are a savage?

"Developing programs in the respective countries, consistent with national circumstances, to provide incentives for consumers to adopt efficient vehicles including clean diesels and hybrids,,,Introducing on a large scale efficient public hybrid and/or clean diesel transportation systems, where appropriate"...Did GW sign off on this? Did EPA or CARB or DC get a memo? Sounds like a barrel of cowdung...but Ive been wrong before.


If you have no creative energies of your own, you are a savage.  Selling mineral wealth isn't an act of creation.

hamish crosby

As an HGV driver one doesnt necessarily have to speed,
except perhaps trying to catch a boat,an unloading time
or just to get to your nightstop whilst you have enough driving hours to use.Also todays diesels have much better MPG economy either due to the "slugging" capability of the engine, or its out an out power curves.Also I would keep the 56-60 speed limit until 7/8
pm then if the weather or traffic permits,65/6 could be allowed,as these engines are capable of much more, being hardly stressed at all.

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