Trump Administration Unveils Its Plan to Relax Car Pollution Rules

Trump Administration Unveils Its Plan to Relax Car Pollution Rules

SOURCE: Inside Climate News and New York Times and New York Times and The New Republic and many others DATE: August 2, 2018 SNIP: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in America, and the majority of it comes from cars and small trucks. That’s a major reason why President Barack Obama, in 2012, introduced a rule requiring automobile manufacturers to make their vehicles more fuel efficient—from 37 miles per gallon to more than 51 miles by the year 2025. As a side benefit, drivers would save money on gas and America’s oil reserves would last longer, reducing the incentive for energy companies to extract more of it. But now President Donald Trump wants to “Make Cars Great Again”—by letting them remain as dirty as they are now. The Trump administration’s plan to halt the drive for more efficient U.S. passenger vehicles will downshift the nation’s ambitions on climate change at the same time that it triggers an epic battle with California, the leader on clean cars. The administration is casting its proposal, issued on Aug. 2, as neutral on climate and even beneficial from a safety standpoint. But the costs will be enormous, according to those who favor stricter regulations. It’s not just that consumers will have to pay the price at the pump, they say—everyone will have to pay for the health and ecological costs of air pollution and global warming. Every new gas-guzzler sold will lock in some of those costs for years to come. The rule would freeze emissions and efficiency standards at 2020 levels, or the equivalent of 43.7 miles per gallon...
Permafrost and wetland emissions could cut 1.5C carbon budget ‘by five years’

Permafrost and wetland emissions could cut 1.5C carbon budget ‘by five years’

SOURCE: Carbon Brief DATE: July 9, 2018 SNIP: Emissions of CO2 and methane from wetlands and thawing permafrost as the climate warms could cut the “carbon budget” for the Paris Agreement temperature limits by around five years, a new study says. These natural processes are “positive feedbacks” – so called because they release more greenhouse gases as global temperatures rise, thus reinforcing the warming. They have previously not been represented in carbon budget estimates as they are not included in most climate models, the researchers say. The findings suggest that human-caused emissions will need to be cut by an additional 20% in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C or 2C limits, the researchers estimate. … The researchers then used the model to simulate the response of permafrost and natural wetlands to climate change. When the additional CO2 and methane emissions are incorporated, the available carbon budget shrinks substantially – falling to 533bn-753bn tonnes of CO2 for 1.5C, or 14-20 years of emissions. That means accounting for the impacts of permafrost and wetlands takes around five years off the 1.5C budget. And, as the table below shows, the budgets for the 1.5C overshoot and 2C scenarios are similarly...
The World May Have Just Had Its Busiest Day of Air Travel Ever

The World May Have Just Had Its Busiest Day of Air Travel Ever

SOURCE: Earther DATE: July 3, 2018 SNIP: FlightRadar24, a popular website and app that’s been tracking air traffic around the world since 2007, recently recorded its busiest day in air travel ever, likely the busiest the globe has ever seen. The group tallied 202,157 flights last Friday, including commercial jets, cargo flights, and personal planes. That’s the equivalent of 140 planes in the air every minute. This is unabashedly terrible news for the climate and also a mark likely to be broken as the world continues to take to the increasingly crowded skies. Data from FlightRadar24 show weekdays (which tend to be busier than weekends) in June saw total traffic in the low 190,000s range through the first three weeks of the month, with Fridays generally being the busiest day. The last week in June was busier than other weeks, with June 29th capping a frenetic week. A record-setting 4.1 billion passengers took off in 2017 according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In 1950, there were only a few million travelers in comparison. Year after year, travelers have increased with only a few bumps here and there due to pesky things like the financial meltdown of 2009. People are also flying further than ever before. In 2017, flyers traveled an estimated 7.7 trillion kilometers (4.8 trillion miles). That’s the equivalent of 10 million trips to the moon and also a shit ton of frequent flyer miles....
Gold’s ugly impact on the climate

Gold’s ugly impact on the climate

SOURCE: Yale Climate Connections DATE: July 3, 2018 SNIP: The gold in your jewelry may be beautiful, but mining it has an ugly impact on the global climate. Mudd: “If we think of gold mining, we have to dig the rock out of the ground and digging rock out of the ground requires diesel, and processing that rock to get the gold out requires energy or electricity.” That’s Gavin Mudd of RMIT University in Australia. He says mining a ton of gold emits a lot more carbon pollution than mining other metals, like iron, because there’s so little gold in the rock. It requires so much energy that producing a single ounce can emit a thousand pounds of carbon pollution. That’s the equivalent of driving a gas-powered car for more than one thousand miles. Since gold is used not only in jewelry, but also in many electronic components, the ounces add up quickly. Mudd: “We’re getting tens of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions – just associated with gold mining.” As mines play out, and gold becomes even more rare, mining it will require even more energy. Mudd says that finding a sustainable source of biodiesel could offset the use of fossil fuels for extraction and trucking. And he’s already seeing solar panels being used for processing. Mudd: “Certainly for the electricity side, I think there’s some really good directions happening in...
WHAT CONSUMES MORE GAS THAN MANY OF CASCADIA’S CITIES COMBINED?

WHAT CONSUMES MORE GAS THAN MANY OF CASCADIA’S CITIES COMBINED?

SOURCE: Sightline Institute DATE: July 2, 2018 SNIP: The methanol refinery proposed for Kalama, Washington, is, by any measure, a goliath. On the banks of the Columbia River in southwest Washington, the project’s backers aim to build a petrochemical plant to convert natural gas, much of it fracked, into liquid methanol for export to China’s plastics industry and vehicle fleet. Operating the facility at full capacity would require staggering volumes of gas. A new Sightline analysis finds that the project’s demand for gas would dwarf the consumption of the Northwest’s biggest cities combined. Even adding up all the gas used by every home, business, and industry in Seattle, Portland, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue, Eugene, Bellingham, and Corvallis, it does not come close to equaling the voracious appetite of the methanol export plans at Kalama. Supplying that much gas would be a climate disaster. Researchers at Stockholm Environment Institute calculated that simply extracting and transporting the volumes of gas required by the facility could produce 4 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent more than than is emitted by every activity in the city of Seattle annually—and that’s just the total owing to methane leaks along the supply chain and does not include emissions at the site itself or when the methanol is ultimately...