7 Countries Leading the Way on the Race to Go Electric
By Kieran Cooke
The car maker Volvo has shed its reputation for safe but rather boring models—sledges rather than sleek runabouts—as it takes a decisive step towards electric cars.
The Sweden-based auto manufacturer—since 2010 owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding group—is set to become the first of the world's major car makers to wave goodbye to the traditional internal combustion engine.
Emissions from cars and trucks make up a large proportion of climate-changing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists in the U.S. calculate that cars and trucks account for up to 20 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions.
Fumes from diesel- and petrol-fueled engines also cause severe pollution problems, particularly in big cities; there is increasing concern about the impact of these fumes on health.
Starting in 2019, Volvo will be producing only cars with electric motors, or hybrids—vehicles that run on combined electric and petrol-driven engines.
"This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo's chief executive. "People increasingly demand electrified cars."
Volvo said it plans to launch five new models—all either fully or partially electric—between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be marketed under the Volvo brand; the other two more powerful vehicles, designed to compete with the California-based Tesla high performance electric car, will be part of a new Polestar brand.
Volvo, which started producing cars in 1927, has been expanding its sales in recent years, with more than half a million vehicles sold in 2015, up eight percent on the previous year.
Heavy investment—particularly in electric and hybrid vehicles—by the company's Chinese owners is said by industry specialists to have spurred Volvo's revival.
China is the world's biggest market for both electric and hybrid vehicles, with approximately 350,000 sold last year. China gives considerable incentives to purchasers of electric vehicles with various subsidies and tax breaks available; there has also been multi-million dollar investment in networks of charging stations.
Many countries in Europe—where a total of 220,000 electric and hybrid vehicles were sold last year—are also planning to increase electric car sales.
Norway, with the world's highest number of electric cars per capita, and where 40 percent of newly registered vehicles last year were electric powered, aims to end all sales of petrol and diesel cars within eight years.
France recently joined the high-powered rush to electric vehicles, saying it would end all sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 as part of its commitment to meeting the targets of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
Developments in technology, such as batteries capable of giving driving ranges of between 280 and 350 miles, are stimulating electric car sales.
The U.S. has tended to lag behind in the race to go electric, with sales of electric-only cars falling in each of the last two years; they now make up less than 0.4 percent of the total U.S. car market.
The big surge in electric vehicle use is expected to happen in the developing world; India, now one of the world's biggest car markets, announced plans earlier this year to have only electric cars on its roads by 2030.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
By Andy Rowell
The decades-long struggle for social and environmental justice in the Niger Delta continues, largely unseen by the wider world.
On Aug. 11, hundreds of people from the Niger Delta stormed the Belema flow station gas plant owned by Shell in the Rivers State region of the Delta. The plant transports crude oil to the Bonny Light export terminal, from where it is shipped overseas.
The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a statement the Interior Department has directed it to cease its study on the potential health risks for people living near surface coal mines in Central Appalachia.
The Interior Department, which committed more than $1 million to the study last year, has begun an agency-wide review of grants over $100,000 because of the "Department's changing budget situation."
California and North Carolina's electricity grids faced no disruptions during Monday's solar eclipse, which many saw as a test for the future when solar power will command a greater share of the energy mix.
"It bodes well for renewable energy on the grid during an event like this," said Eric Schmitt, a vice-president at California Independent System Operator that delivers most of the state's electricity.
By Thursday the Trump administration's project of dismantling the public domain will burst into full bloom when Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke announces a wholesale reversal of more than a century of public lands protection through presidential designation of national monuments under Antiquities Act of 1908.
Are you ready to watch the Great American Eclipse of 2017? Will you be in the path of totality? Do you have your safety glasses ready?
Well, however you decide to watch the solar eclipse today, NASA TV will be showing the "Eclipse Across America" with live video of the celestial event. The feed is already live with lots of handy information about today's unprecedented eclipse. So be sure to watch above.
"One out of three Americans lives within 50 miles of high-level nuclear waste, some of which, like Plutonium, is lethally dangerous and will be around for an incredible longtime," John Oliver explained last night on Last Week Tonight.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there is more than 71,000 tons of nuclear waste stranded at 104 reactors. "It was a problem we should have solved in the 1980s," Oliver said, "much like a Rubik's Cube."
Despite years of using nuclear energy, the country still doesn't have a permanent facility for its storage, the comedian said. Oliver proposed what the U.S. really needs is some kind of "nuclear toilet."
By Andy Rowell
As Trump's presidency spirals like a toxic vortex from one crisis to another, and with the global news media reacting to one venomous tweet after another, it is easy to miss the slow assault against science and the environment that continues below the radar.
The crisis for Trump could get a whole lot worse, with his ex-Chief of Staff, Steve Bannon, who was sacked last week, promising that he was "prepared to go to war with his adversaries in the White House."