Climate Change ☀️
Trump administration sidelined experts in writing car pollution rules, EPA watchdog finds
The report, released Tuesday, may provide fresh fodder for the Biden administration to tighten mileage and greenhouse gas standards for new automobiles as part of a broader effort to phase out internal-combustion engines and drastically cut the nation’s climate-warming emissions.

President Biden’s team is in the midst of negotiations with carmakers, autoworkers and environmentalists for new pollution standards for new vehicles, aiming to protect factory jobs and cut emissions. The industry wants generous government incentives for producing cleaner cars, while labor leaders want to stave off job losses during the transition to electric vehicles.

The outcome of the talks will be crucial for U.S. climate goals because the transportation sector is the nation’s largest source of emissions, according to the EPA.

In 2020, the Trump administration finalized a rule compelling car companies to improve the average fuel economy of their fleets by only 1.5 percent a year — a step back from the 5 percent annual increase set under Obama. Officials argued that forcing automakers to improve the efficiency too quickly would make cars too expensive, prodding people to keep driving older, less safe vehicles. On paper, the lower emissions standards were signed jointly by the EPA and the Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But according to the inspector general’s report, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided that the NHTSA, and not his own experts, would complete “all modeling and analysis on behalf of both agencies.”

The result was that many EPA staffers felt shut out of the process of making one of the agency’s most important rules. One manager at its Office of Air and Radiation told investigators that “no one at the EPA ever saw NHTSA’s model or input files” in the six months leading up to the release of the final rule.
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Governors Urge Biden To Order 100% Zero-Emission Car Sales By 2035
Governors from a dozen states are asking President Biden to ban the sale of cars and light trucks that emit greenhouse gasses by 2035.

In a letter to the president, the governors of California, New York, North Carolina and nine other states — all but one a Democrat — asked for the change ahead of a White House climate summit, scheduled to begin on Thursday.

"By establishing a clear regulatory path to ensuring that all vehicles sold in the United States are zero-emission, we can finally clear the air and create high-road jobs," the governors wrote in the letter.

"Moving quickly towards a zero-emission transportation future will protect the health of all communities," they added.

Between now and the target date, the governors called for "significant milestones along the way to monitor progress."

The other signatories were Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the lone Republican, and the governors of Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island and Hawaii.

The 12 governors also called on the Biden administration to set standards and adopt incentives to ensure 100% zero-emission sales of medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.

While the letter urges a transition to entirely zero-emission vehicles by that date, it does not specifically call for the elimination of gasoline-powered vehicles.

The 2035 goal matches one already adopted by California. The other states whose governors signed have ambitious goals to increase zero-emissions vehicles, such as electric vehicles, and/or invest heavily in such technology in the coming years.
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Solar panels are contagious - but in a good way
The number of solar panels within shortest distance from a house is the most important factor in determining the likelihood of that house having a solar panel, when compared with a host of socio-economic and demographic variables. This is shown in a new study by scientists using satellite and census data of the city of Fresno in the US, and employing machine learning. Although it is known that peer effects are relevant for sustainable energy choices, very high-resolution data combined with artificial intelligence techniques were necessary to single out the paramount importance of proximity. The finding is relevant for policies that aim at a broad deployment of solar panels in order to replace unsustainable fossil fueled energy generation.
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Arrival Developing Electric Vehicles Without Assembly Line
A small electric vehicle company backed by UPS wants to replace the assembly lines automakers have used for more than a century with something radically different — small factories employing a few hundred workers.

The company, Arrival, is creating highly automated “microfactories” where its delivery vans and buses will be assembled by multitasking robots, breaking from the approach pioneered by Henry Ford and used by most of the world’s automakers. The plants would produce tens of thousands of vehicles a year. That’s far fewer than traditional auto plants, which require 2,000 or more workers and typically produce hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year.

The advantage, according to Arrival, is that its microfactories will cost about $50 million rather than the $1 billion or more required to build a traditional factory. The company, which is based in London and is setting up factories in England and the United States, says this method should yield vans that cost a lot less than other electric models and even today’s standard, diesel-powered vehicles.

“The assembly line approach is very capital-intensive, and you have to get to very high production levels to make any margin,” said Avinash Rugoobur, Arrival’s president and a former General Motors executive. “The microfactory allows us to build vehicles profitably at really any volume.”

The company hopes its electric vehicles will disrupt the normally sleepy market for delivery vans. Such vehicles are well suited to electrification because they travel a set number of miles a day and can be charged overnight. Arrival has already won over UPS, which has about a 4 percent stake in the company and plans to buy 10,000 Arrival vans over the next several years.

In Arrival’s factories, a motorized platform will carry unfinished vehicles among six different robot clusters, with different components added at each stop. The company is also replacing most steel parts used in vehicles with components made from advanced composites, a mix of polypropylene, a polymer used to make plastics, and fiberglass. These parts are to be held together by structural adhesives instead of metal welds.

The use of composites, which can be produced in any color, would eliminate three of the most expensive parts of an auto plant — the paint shop, the giant printing presses that stamp out fenders and other parts, and the robots that weld metal parts into larger underbody components. Each typically costs several hundred million dollars.
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Bolsonaro Seeks International Funding for Amazon Protection
As the Biden administration rallies the international community to curb global warming in a climate change summit this week, Brazil is pledging to play a critical role, going as far as promising to end illegal deforestation by 2030.

There’s a catch: Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, wants the international community to pledge billions of dollars to pay for the conservation initiatives.

And donors are reluctant to provide the money, since Brazil under the Bolsonaro administration has been busy doing the opposite of conservation, gutting the country’s environmental protection system, undermining Indigenous rights and championing industries driving the destruction of the rainforest.

“He wants new money with no real constraints,” said Marcio Astrini, who heads the Climate Observatory, an environmental protection organization in Brazil. “This is not a trustworthy government: not on democracy, not on the coronavirus and far less so on the Amazon.”

For two years, Mr. Bolsonaro seemed unbothered by his reputation as an environmental villain.

Under Mr. Bolsonaro’s watch, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, by far the largest in the world, has risen to the highest level in over a decade. The destruction, which has been driven by loggers clearing land for cattle grazing and for illegal mining operations, sparked global outrage in 2019 as huge wildfires raged for weeks.

The Trump administration turned a blind eye to Brazil’s environmental record under Mr. Bolsonaro, a close ally of the former American president.
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Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations