Posts

How SUVs conquered the world – at the expense of its climate

by Oliver Milman, The Guardian


Highlights

  • SUVs were the second largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, surpassing all shipping, aviation, heavy industry, and trucks
  • There are more than 200 million SUVs on the road, emitting 700 megatonnes of CO2, about the entire output of the UK and Netherlands combined
  • In 2019 SUVs surpassed 40% of all car sales worldwide for the first time.
  • In the US, SUVs emit 14% more carbon dioxide than small passenger cars on average because they require more energy to move around 
  • Sebastian Castellanos, a researcher at the New Urban Mobility Alliance stresses the importance of decarbonizing transportation:

“To avert the worst of the climate catastrophe, the transport sector needs to be completely decarbonized…With the explosion in SUV sales, we are moving even farther away from our goal of decarbonizing the sector.”

  • Americans have grown deeply attached to car culture and SUVs. In order to sever these ties, a reimagining of US towns and cities as places largely without cars is needed

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign calls for investments and bold policies to support clean mobility, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/01/suv-conquered-america-climate-change-emissions?CMP=share_btn_tw

Defying Trump, California locks in vehicle emission deals with major automakers

by David Shepardson, Reuters


Highlights

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) along with Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Volvo, and BMW finalized agreements that create low vehicle emissions standards for cars in California
  • According to The Center for Biological Diversity, the deal will improve fuel economy by an estimated 3.7% year over year between 2022-2026
  • These new emissions standards come after the Trump administration finalized rollbacks that required on 1.5% annual increases in efficiency, compared to the 5% annual increases the Obama administration set
  • There are 13 other states that use California’s emissions standards, representing 40% of the US auto market
  • GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota have not agreed to the standards and are in a lawsuit with the federal government to strip California of the right to set zero emission vehicle requirements

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes solutions for clean mobility to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.


Read More: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers

There is little evidence that mass transit poses a risk of coronavirus outbreaks

by Maxine Joselow, Scientific American


Highlights

  • Public transportation advocates say that transit can play a crucial role in the pandemic era by reducing air pollution that makes people more susceptible to COVID-19.
    • Subways account for 76% less carbon emissions than the average vehicle carrying a single person
    • More single-occupant vehicles on the road will have long term climate and health effects
  • A study of COVID-19 outbreaks in Paris showed that zero outbreak clusters originated on the city’s metro lines from May to June, but newer reports show that four outbreak clusters stemmed from public transportation
  • In Japan, public transportation did not account for any outbreaks, but clusters were traced back to bars and live music venues
  • There are no comparable studies on outbreaks on public transit within the United States 
  • The risk of using public transit is low if everyone is adhering to mask rules and physical distancing

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes solutions for clean mobility to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.


Read More: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/there-is-little-evidence-that-mass-transit-poses-a-risk-of-coronavirus-outbreaks/

CARB Chair: 100% Zero Emission Vehicle sales target in 2030 could be reality

By John Boesel, CALSTART


Highlights

California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairman Mary Nichols emphasizes the importance of banning internal combustions engine (ICE) vehicles during the CALSTART California 2030 Policy Summit.

  • Nichols was previously opposed to the ban of ICE vehicles due to the potential backlash but stated at the Summit:

“I’ve become convinced of the need to send a longer-term signal of where we’re heading…If we can make it clear that it is the will of the legislature and [CARB], then there should be a clear end to [internal combustion engine] sales.”

  • California historically sets ambitious climate goals and targets and an ICE ban would be a major step for the state’s emissions reductions
  • If carmakers keep to their promise to produce more EVs, by 2023 there will be many more long-range electric and fuel cell vehicles available for sale 
  • Policy firm Energy Innovations issued a report suggesting California would need to establish an 80% Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales target by 2030 to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target
  • California produces more electric vehicles and has more electric vehicle-related jobs than the rest of the country

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign calls for investments and bold policies to support clean mobility, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.


Read more: https://calstart.org/100-zev-sales-target-in-2030-reality/

Trump rolls back Obama fuel economy rule, increasing emissions during a climate crisis

by Sean O’Kane, The Verge 


Highlights

President Trump has reversed an Obama-era policy that made new cars more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, but faces lawsuits and pushback from various environmental groups and the State of California

  • Under the new rule, automakers will now have to increase the average fuel economy of their new cars by 1.5 percent every year through their 2026 model year lineup compared to the previous by 5 percent from Obama’s presidency
  • Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that the previous Obama-era standard has already helped cut carbon dioxide emissions by half a billion metric tons, and saved drivers $86 billion in fuel costs
  • The new standard is expected to release one billion metric tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increase gasoline consumption by around 80 billion gallons, and oil consumption by 2 billion barrels
  • The Trump administration argues that lowering the fuel economy standard will make cars more affordable by reducing the upfront cost of a new vehicle by around $1,000, leading car buyers to buy newer, safer cars
    • However, average new vehicle prices have risen in the US because automakers now heavily favor selling more expensive SUVs and trucks
    • Some experts disagree that these new fuel standards will save consumers money. New analysis shows that even if gas prices were cheap for the next three decades, the cost of ownership for the car is still high
  • The State of California has been against the new fuel standards and has made deals with Volkswagen, Ford, Honda, and BMW to commit to 3.7 percent year-over-year increases in average fuel economy while General Motors, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler filed support for the Trump administration to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign includes supporting clean mobility, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.


Read more: https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/31/21201036/trump-epa-obama-fuel-economy-rule-rollback-emissions-consumer-cost?

Uber and Lyft are convenient, competitive and highly carbon intensive

by Phil Mckenna, Inside Climate News


Highlights

Popular ride-hailing services are emitting 69% more carbon dioxide compared to other modes of transportation according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

  • Most emissions are the result of deadheading, the act of driving around in between ride pickups, which account for 42% of miles traveled for ride-hailing drivers
  • Efforts to encourage pooling, sharing rides with strangers traveling in the same direction, are bringing emissions down closer to private vehicle emissions. Electrifying the rides decreases emissions further, especially when these rides are shared
  • Electrification efforts for ride-hailing are gaining momentum as Lyft, Uber, and various states are incentivizing drivers to buy electric cars:
    • In Colorado, Lyft has subsidized leases on electric cars and their charging costs
    • In London, Lyft added a fee on all rides to help drivers afford to purchase an electric vehicle
    • In California, the State passed legislation that all ride-hailing companies have to transition their fleets to all-electric by 2023
  • Emissions would decrease if half of all rides were shared, but many riders do not want to pool with others in the interest of time and privacy

Clean mobility initiatives including vehicle electrification, a gas-powered vehicle phase-out, increased investments in electric public transportation, and investments in infrastructure for micro-mobility are all key to building a climate-safe California.


Read more: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24022020/uber-lyft-carbon-intensive-clean-transportation

GM investing billions in Michigan plant to produce electric trucks, SUVs

by Zack Budryk, The Hill


Highlights:

  • General Motors (GM) hopes to revive the Michigan auto manufacturing industry by investing $2 billion in their Detroit plant. This location will be used to manufacturing their new all electric truck starting in 2021.
  • GM claims the opening of the plant will create over 2,000 new manufacturing jobs in the Detroit area. 

Transitioning from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles is a key component of The Climate Center’s sustainable mobility work.


Read More: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/480063-gm-investing-billions-in-michigan-plant-to-produce-electric-trucks

The cost of this state’s vehicle economy underscores need for sustainable mobility

by Bill Lucia, Route Fifty, January 24, 2020


Highlights

A new study from researchers at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard estimates how much cars, trucks, and roads cost Massachusetts each year:

  • The study estimates that the total estimated cost each year of the vehicle economy in Massachusetts is about $64 billion
  • Massachusetts’ “vehicle economy” includes nearly 37,000 miles of roads, parking areas, and 4.5 million cars and light trucks
  • For context, the state of Massachusetts in fiscal year 2019 was slated to spend about $59 billion, including federal funds and bond proceeds, to run the government and invest in infrastructure

Sustainable mobility initiatives could help defray some costs associated with transportation by getting cars off the road.


Read more: https://www.routefifty.com/finance/2020/01/cost-of-cars-roads-massachusetts-harvard-study/162654/

Despite sharp growth in electric cars, vehicle emissions keep rising

by Julie Cart, Cal Matters

It is tempting to employ any number of puns when considering California’s transportation future: The state is at a crossroads, its policies could run out of gas, dangerous curves lie ahead.

But keeping in mind that the state’s climate policies demand the wholesale electrification of transportation, here’s another: California must reinvent not only the wheel, but also the vehicle, the fuel and the road. The transformation is well underway, but the positive news is clouded by negative trends.

More than half the nation’s clean cars reside in California garages and driveways, with sales making wild leaps—a nearly 81% increase in registration of new electric vehicles between 2017 and 2018, according to the California New Car Dealers Association. Yet planet-warming pollution from transportation has been rising, amounting to as much as half of the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Unless California can quickly reverse that trend, the ability to meet long-term climate goals is in doubt.

Read more: https://calmatters.org/projects/despite-sharp-growth-in-electric-cars-vehicle-emissions-keep-rising/