The UK Could Ban Gas and Diesel Car Sales in 12 Years
Britain announced that it will ban sales of new diesel and gasoline powered cars in 15 years last week. That was five years earlier than expected, but necessary for the UK to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a statement from the prime minister's office, as CNN reported.
The UK's Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, revised that number this week, when he told BBC Radio 5 Live it could happen by 2032, adding there would be consultation, as the BBC reported.
"Michael Gove announced the original 2040, the Prime Minister last week said actually we would like to do that by 2035 at the latest," Shapps said in the interview, as the Express reported. "We have said 2035 or even 2032. That's in consultation, we will say 2032-2035."
The 2032 target puts the UK in line with Scotland, which, three years ago, pledged to ban sales of new combustion engine cars by 2032. However, Scotland does not have the authority to ban new cars, so it plans to phase out the need for combustion engines, by reducing the number of gas stations and adding many more charging stations, as the BBC reported.
Glasgow, in Scotland, will host COP26 later this year, and the UK government is laying out its environmental proposals in the build-up the November UN conference, as the BBC reported.
The proposed ban also includes hybrid cars, so the only sales that will be allowed are fully electric or hydrogen cars and vans, according to the BBC.
Predictably, representatives from the automotive industry have balked against the timeline, raising concerns about whether the government would continue to subsidize sales of electric vehicles, a dearth of charging infrastructure, and potential job losses, as CNN reported.
"It's extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue," Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said in a statement, as CNN reported. "With current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it's clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment."
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders's numbers show that while electric car sales rose 144 percent last year in the UK, they make up less than two percent of the total number of cars on the road, as the Express reported. In 2019, nearly 1.5 million new combustion engines cars were sold in Britain. Only 37,000 electric cars were sold.
Since charging infrastructure is not in place yet, many car buyers have anxiety about running out of a charge and being stuck. In his interview, Shapps sought to ease anxiety by assuring the public that additional infrastructure for electric cars was part of the government's budget.
"We have domestic car producers and we want to help them to transition so we are doing a lot of work," Shapps said in his interview, as the Express reported. "In fact tomorrow I'm meeting with the car manufacturers on this very subject. We are putting in about £1.5billion at the moment and there is more to come."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that no driver will be more than 30 miles away from a charging station. Yet, a considerable investment is needed to make that claim a reality, according to the Express.
The commitment pairs the UK with several countries phasing out greenhouse gas emitting combustion engines, including Norway, which wants all new passenger cars and vans sold in the country to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025, and India, which has called for new cars sold there to be powered by electricity by 2030, as CNN reported.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.