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Even the Newest 'Clean' Diesel Cars Release 'Toxic Smog,' Study Finds
A new analysis reveals that the latest models of diesel cars approved for sale since the 2015 Volkswagen "dieselgate" scandal are exceeding nitrogen oxides (NOx) limits set by the Europe Union.
For the study, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) used a "difficult-to-impossible to cheat" emissions test involving remote-sensing technology and statistical analysis to measure real-world exhaust emissions on more than 700,000 cars and 4,850 vehicle models across Europe.
The results were "a striking confirmation of [the] worst fears about diesel cars," said the U.S.-based ICCT, as quoted by the Financial Times.
According to their findings, all Euro 6 rated cars—the latest emissions standard for diesels—exceeded the Euro 6 diesel NOx emissions limits measured in real-world driving.
For Euro 6 cars in particular, the researchers also found:
- Four manufacturer groups had average emissions more than 12 times above the Euro 6 diesel type-approval limit, and the highest-emitting vehicle family has emissions 18 times the limit.
- All Euro 6 diesel models rated exceeded the Euro 6 diesel NOx emissions limits measured in real-world driving.
- The highest-emitting petrol Euro 6 vehicle family has approximately the same level of NOx emissions as the lowest-emitting diesel vehicle family.
The results were compiled in a new rating database called The Real Urban Emissions Initiative (TRUE). The study also found that all of the Euro 3, 4 and 5 diesels were in the red. Gasoline-fueled vehicles, in contrast, fared much better. Most Euro 3-5 petroleum vehicles had good or moderate ratings. And all Euro 6 petrol cars received a “good" or "moderate" rating.
NOx pollution, which is emitted by automobiles, trucks and various non-road vehicles, is harmful to human health and the environment. Emissions of NOx exhaust gases can be linked to 38,000 premature deaths worldwide, including 1,100 deaths in the U.S., according to University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
The EU has a baseline limit of 0.08mph of nitrogen oxides per kilometer. But as the Guardian noted, the TRUE analysis reveals that diesel models released in 2016 were still on average five times above that limit.
"We can really conclude that pretty much all Euro 6 diesels on the market are not clean," Peter Mock, managing director of the ICCT in Europe, told the Financial Times.
Greg Archer, of the campaign group Transport & Environment, which is part of the TRUE initiative, added to the Guardian: "The True rating exposes the legacy of dieselgate—tens of millions of dirty diesels that are still on the roads producing the toxic smog we daily breathe. It identifies the worst performing models and regulators must act to require carmakers to clean these up."
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, which represents 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus makers, called the study "misleading."
They contend the study is based on remote sensing results collected between 2011 and 2017, and therefore do not evaluate the on-road performance of the latest diesel vehicles approved to the Euro 6 diesel standard since September 2017.
"The claims from the new 'TRUE' study are misleading for consumers," stated Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. "EU policy makers will be equally disappointed that there is no acknowledgement that the latest Euro 6 diesel cars complying with the new RDE legislation are very clean."
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.