The Senate's top Democrat, Charles Schumer of New York, proposed on Thursday a $454 billion 10-year plan to boost the sale of electric vehicles and reduce the number of gasoline-powered cars. His plan would offer cash vouchers to entice Americans to trade in their internal combustion engine car for a car that runs on hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cells, according to Reuters.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she wants to see 1 million charging stations for electric cars across the country by 2030.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber are creating more climate pollution and road congestion per trip than the transportation options they displace, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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The European commission's effort to transition the 27-country economic bloc from a high-carbon to a low-carbon emitter in a few decades received input from the fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil in the weeks prior to its passage, according to a watchdog that monitors lobbying activity, as The Guardian reported.
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By Ajit Niranjan
It's a question that preys on our readers' minds: Can we invent our way out of climate breakdown?
But experts say there is no silver bullet to protect the climate — and that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the surest known way to prevent further warming.
Solar Panels and Wind Turbines<p>What may be the biggest innovation to combat climate change has been around for decades.</p><p><a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/solar" target="_blank">Solar panels</a> and <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/wind" target="_blank">wind turbines</a> turn sun and wind into electricity without releasing greenhouse gases. As the technologies have scaled up and converted energy more efficiently, they have come down in price to become <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/green-growth-africa-chooses-between-renewables-and-fossil-fuels/a-51510277" target="_blank">cheaper than fossil fuels</a> globally.</p><p>"Solar and wind being cheap and reliable and performing well opens up a lot of possibilities," said Gregory Nemet, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has written a book on how solar energy became cheap. "Even as we've had 30 years of politicians dithering and not as much progress as most people would have hoped, in the background, technology has been progressing."</p><p>But generating clean energy is one thing — storing and distributing it is another. This is particularly important for renewables that cannot generate electricity without the sun shining or wind blowing.</p><p>Three things suggest innovation is overcoming these hurdles, said Nemet. "That's renewables getting better, batteries allowing you to store electricity and then information in the system allowing you to manage it better."</p>
Batteries for Electric Vehicles<p>The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded three scientists a Nobel prize in October for their work in <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/nobel-prize-for-chemistry-awarded-for-the-development-of-lithium-ion-batteries/a-50737075" target="_blank">developing lithium-ion batteries</a>, which they say have "revolutionized our lives since they first entered the market in 1991" — and continue to advance.</p><p>Lighter and smaller than earlier rechargeable batteries, lithium batteries can also be charged faster and more often. As their weight and price continue to fall, they are playing an increasingly pivotal role in decarbonizing the transport sector by making <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/electric-vehicles" target="_blank">electric vehicles</a> cheaper.</p><p>"Battery storage will be critical," said Joao Gouveia, a senior fellow at Project Drawdown, a research organization that analyzes climate solutions. "It will allow the integration of more and more renewable tech. We cannot have 70 percent [of renewable energy by 2050] coming from wind and solar if we don't apply battery storage systems."</p><p>Holding batteries back are aging electricity grids and costs that, despite falling each year, remain high.</p><p>But electric vehicles could act as a storage system, said Gouveia, with owners buying electricity at night to charge their cars and selling it to the grid when demand is high and cars are parked, idle, during the day. "We are finding new lithium reserves because this is a tech for both markets, so we're innovating more and more."</p><p>While the global electric vehicle fleet has grown rapidly — passing 5 million cars in 2018, data from the International Energy Agency shows — this progress has been dwarfed by a rise in larger and less efficient SUVs that run on fossil fuels. Four in 10 new cars sold globally in 2018 were SUVs.</p>
Power-to-X<p>Another way to store renewable energy is using electrolyzers to extract hydrogen from water. The process, also known as power-to-X, is a way of storing energy in different forms. Engineers run an electric current through water and collect the hydrogen molecules that break off. These can be burned for heat, stored in fuel cells or turned into chemicals such as methane for processes that require fossil fuels.</p><p>"It's a great way to decarbonize the heating, mobility and chemical sector," said David Wortmann, a board member of Energy Watch Group, a German NGO. "It's scaleable — the tech is all there. The industry is young, you have manufacturers out there to produce an electrolyzer. But the demand is not there yet, the regulations are not in place."</p><p>Hydrogen could also help decarbonize a high-polluting sector that has mostly been overlooked: heavy industry.</p><p>The high heat needed to process industrial materials — such as concrete, iron, steel, and petrochemicals — is responsible for about 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to a report from the Center on Global Energy Policy in October. The cement industry alone is responsible for about 8 percent of CO2 emissions, mostly in production. This is more than three times the CO2 emissions of the aviation industry.</p><p>Burning hydrogen from renewable energy sources could meet industrial heating needs cleanly, said Jeff Rissmann, head of modeling at Energy Innovation, a research firm. "Moving to hydrogen can have a huge impact across many sectors, and would be one of the biggest ways to decarbonize the global economy."</p>
Carbon Capture and Storage<p>Even under optimistic scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scientists say we will not meet targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius without removing some of the CO2 we have already emitted. The IPCC projects between 100 billion and 1 trillion tons of CO2 would need to be removed this century.</p><p>Trees and plants that extract CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into oxygen through photosynthesis are one way of doing this. But they take up large tracts of land — which is needed for other purposes such as growing food — and are not a secure way of storing carbon, because they may be felled for firewood or burned in forest fires.</p><p>Some companies are experimenting with <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/carbon-capture-expensive-risky-and-indispensable/a-43172422" target="_blank">capturing CO2</a> from power plants and storing it deep underground. By doing this with biomass plants — where recently-grown plant matter is burned and not ancient fossils — then power can be produced while reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.</p><p>But with just 19 facilities running such systems, its deployment is not happening quickly enough to meet emissions reductions targets, according to a report from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.</p>
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By Dana Drugmand
Fossil fuel interests appear intent on swaying public opinion about the electric vehicle tax credit, based on recent polling on the policy. A deeper look at these efforts reveals oil and gas funding behind the groups conducting the polls and blatant bias in the polling methodology, according to experts.
Mike McKenna of MWR Strategies / CleanSkiesNews / YouTube screenshot
Excerpt of misleading questions from the MWR poll about consumer attitudes toward the electric car tax credit.
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- We can all take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our work-related travels.
- Individual actions — like the six described here — can cumulatively help prompt more collective changes, but it helps to prioritize by impact.
- As the saying goes: be the change you want to see in the world.
1. Travel With Trust<p>When looking for a place to stay, look for accommodations that utilize various sustainability standards. This may include facilities that use renewable energies or are a part of coalitions such as <a href="https://www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/" target="_blank">We Mean Business</a> that are striving to reduce waste in all aspects of their operations. Use the Global Sustainable Tourism Council's <a href="https://www.gstcouncil.org/gstc-criteria/gstc-recognized-standards-for-hotels/" target="_blank">list</a> of trusted standards used in different countries as a guide.</p>
2. Travel Light<p>Just like at home, traveling is an opportunity to think carefully about what you consume and how. Minimize your use of the mini toiletries at your hotel (most of which are being <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/9/19/20863270/tiny-plastic-toiletries-ban" target="_blank">phased out</a> since they are single-use, non-recyclable plastics). Reduce your overall water footprint by opting for "green choice" programs to reuse your towels and sheets during your stay. Better yet, leave a note saying you would like to see more package-free, sustainable purchasing in all of the hotel's operations! Take a step further by reducing or eliminating your own waste by bringing your own items, like a reusable coffee cup, water bottle and other utensils. (Foldable cups, bottles and utensils are ideal for most business baggage and are a great way to impress clients and colleagues.) More impactfully, change your dietary choices by opting for red meat-free or plant based meals.</p>
3. Travel Small<p>Whether flying, on the ground, or in your room, small is generally better. If you must fly, get better carbon savings by staying in economy. If you can't take a train or bus and need to take a car (taxi, ride-hailing, or otherwise) opt to pool, and look for a small hybrid, or ideally an electric vehicle (EV).</p>
4. Travel Slowly<p>Avoiding air travel all together is an impactful way to reduce your carbon emissions. Compared to most of our European counterparts, those of us in North America have a hard time getting a good train or bus; but Amtrak, VIA Rail, regional transit and bus services are improving and, throughout the world, many of these options are readily available. "<a href="https://www.impacttravelalliance.org/" target="_blank">Slow travel</a>" is gaining traction around the world and offers opportunities to travel not only with lower emissions, but more comfortably, too.</p>
5. Travel Regeneratively<p>Concepts like <a href="https://offset.climateneutralnow.org/" target="_blank">carbon offsetting</a> can be complex, but the principle behind them is simple: if we cannot avoid certain negative impacts in what we do, we must always search for ways to mitigate those impacts. To be fair, there are many valid and varied critiques of carbon offsets and other mechanisms like them. However, so long as air travel and other environmentally significant travel are options that cannot be avoided, negotiate with your employer to purchase carbon offsets as a meaningful way to help repair some of the damage we inflict while doing sometimes unavoidable work.</p>
6. Travel Carefully<p>The most important decision that someone who travels for work can make is whether or not they need to travel at all. Telecommuting isn't always ideal, but the energy associated with travel — particularly for high-income or high-ranking professionals — is immense and one has to really be able to make a clear rationale for why a particular trip matters. Use carbon calculators and have a clear sense of the metrics you're measured on, as to how this trip can contribute (or not) to your work.</p>
From Behavioral Change to Systems Change<p>As Millennials and Generation Z move into positions of greater authority in the workplace, it is incumbent on us to leave a better path for those who come next.</p><p>Many Global Shapers are starting to explore ways to embed sustainable travel in both our individual and organizational practices and we invite you — the reader — to <a href="mailto:%email@example.com?subject=6%20ways%20travelling%20professionals%20can%20cut%20their%20carbon%20footprint%20-%20Feedback" target="_blank">reach out to us</a> with any ideas and suggestions on our list. This could look like building a contractor or employment agreement for your job that explicitly mandates or supports sustainable travel. Better yet, use your conscientious travel as an opportunity to spark an organization-wide conversation about developing a sustainable travel policy.</p><p>In the end, the climate crisis and environmental challenges around the world require both individual and collective action. Global Shapers, and members of the World Economic Forum, are privileged, connected and prominent leaders. We cannot wait for policies or procedures to be in place before we start mobilizing for change, but rather we can and must leverage our positions in society to create the baseline of expectations for living in balance with the planet. As the old saying goes, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.</p>
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By Paul Brown
If it is to achieve its target of net zero climate emissions by 2050, all UK airports must close by mid-century and the country will have to make other drastic and fundamental lifestyle changes, says a report from a research group backed by the government in London.
A gas station in Maryland has ditched fossil fuels to set up the first fully electric recharging service station for electric vehicles. The electric car charging station opened last week with four charging bays.
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