According to a recent report from International Energy Agency, carbon emissions from SUVs increased by 0.5% in 2020, even though the world’s energy-related emissions overall fell by 7%.
January 2021 – The Guardian reports that global sales of electric cars accelerated in 2020, rising by 43% to more than 3m as overall car sales dropped by a fifth. The article notes that the trend comes as many governments set end dates for the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars. Another Guardian piece reports that, according to the boss of carmaker Stellantis, the future of Vauxhall’s UK car production will depend on government support after the “brutal” decision to bring forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030.
Per Reuters, “The shift to larger vehicles was the biggest factor hurting fuel economy. In 2019, 44% of the fleet were cars and 56% were light-duty trucks, a category that includes SUVs, the highest percentage of trucks on record.”
In Colorado, 70% of new vehicle purchases are trucks. Other large passenger vehicles contribute to pollution rise as well.
Worldwide, SUV emissions rose during the pandemic, analysis finds by Ben Geman, author of Generate on Axios
A remarkable new finding from the International Energy Agency: While energy-related carbon emissions fell steeply last year, emissions from SUVs actually rose slightly (by an estimated 0.5%).
Why it matters: The analysis underscores the rising prominence of SUVs in the global vehicle market. It’s a trend that makes cutting emissions from transportation harder because bigger vehicles generally consume more fuel.
The big picture: “Despite the effects of the pandemic on overall car use, SUVs consumed more oil last year than they did in 2019,” IEA said, noting that SUVs used 5.5 million barrels of oil per day last year.
“Remarkably, we estimate that the increase in the overall SUV fleet in 2020 cancelled out the declines in oil consumption by SUVs that resulted from Covid-related lockdown measures,” the analysis adds.
Jan 7, 2021 – Energy & Environment
EPA: Fuel efficiency dropped in 2019
The average fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. dipped in model year 2019, newly released federal data shows.
Why it matters: Transportation is the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The overall trends (see above) show that the sector is far from steep emissions cuts.
How it works: Per Reuters, “The shift to larger vehicles was the biggest factor hurting fuel economy. In 2019, 44% of the fleet were cars and 56% were light-duty trucks, a category that includes SUVs, the highest percentage of trucks on record.”
What they’re saying: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the data justifies his agency’s decision to weaken Obama-era rules on mileage and CO2 emissions to allow smaller increases through the mid-2020s. “This report shows in detail how few auto manufactures were able to meet the unrealistic emissions standards set by the Obama administration without resorting to purchasing emission credits,” he said.
The other side: Dan Becker, an advocate for much tougher emissions standards, said the data show why the incoming administration must reverse Trump policy. “Without tough rules from the Biden administration, automakers will keep pushing gas-guzzling Trumpmobiles on consumers rather than deliver clean cars that cut pollution,” said Becker, who’s with the Center for Biological Diversity.
NPR, Jan 2021 https://www.npr.org/2021/01/20/958472682/pandemic-drastically-cut-emissions-from-cars-the-lone-exception-suvs
According to a recent report from International Energy Agency, carbon emissions from SUVs increased by 0.5% in 2020, even though the world’s energy-related emissions overall fell by 7%.
SUVs are less fuel efficient than smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic cars. They’re also highly profitable for automakers and highly popular with consumers. The combined force of buyer preference and manufacturer incentives has led to a huge boom in the bigger vehicles — and sales stayed surprisingly strong in 2020.
The result? Rising emissions from SUVs. The increase in the number of SUVs on the road was so dramatic that — even though lockdowns caused the number of miles driven per vehicle, on average, to go down — the total consumption of oil by SUVs still went up, the IEA found.
This is not a new trend: SUV emissions have been growing for years. But the IEA found it remarkable that the growth managed to defy even the disruptions of the pandemic. And this steadfast increase in emissions has ominous implications for the climate, even as more automakers are promoting electric vehicles.
In fact, the IEA says in 2020 the decline in oil use thanks to electric vehicles “was completely cancelled out by the growth in SUV sales over the same period.”
Well before the pandemic, some observers had been sounding the alarm that the boom in bigger vehicles was very bad news for climate efforts. In 2019, Greenpeace called the car industry “grotesque” for promoting ever-bigger vehicles despite their inefficiency. But vehicle shoppers have flocked to SUVs and their smaller cousins, crossovers. And in most cases, it’s not because they need to go off-road.
“Americans have a love affair with SUVs,” says Jessica Caldwell, the executive director of insights at Edmunds. “They have a more commanding presence on the road than passenger cars and far more versatile, usable cargo areas. For drivers in congested cities, SUV ride height allows passengers a better view of the road which is a great bonus when sitting in traffic. But most notably, SUVs evoke the feeling of being able to go anywhere or do anything, and nothing resonates better with the American consumer than the promise of freedom,” she says.
Vehicles overall have been growing more fuel-efficient. But the rise of SUVs undercuts that progress. Automakers have argued that the strong consumer appetite for larger SUVs and crossovers makes it impractical if not impossible to meet ambitious fleet-wide fuel economy standards.
Margo Oge, a former EPA official who worked on those fuel efficiency standards, says that to tackle the problem, the Biden administration needs to mandate more ambitious targets for SUVs, specifically, while looking toward a future without gas-powered vehicles at all.
“The Biden administration should set a target for all new light duty vehicle sales [to be] electric by 2035,” she said. Some countries, as well as states like California, have already set such targets.
Sebastian Castellanos, a researcher at the New Urban Mobility Alliance, has studied SUV emissions and agrees that shifting toward electric SUVs is “a move in the right direction,” but not sufficient on its own.
He argues it’s also key for government policies to “move consumers towards more efficient, climate-friendly modes of transportation such as transit, walking and cycling, and away from use of private cars as the de facto way for people to move around.”
Jan 26, 2021,03:50pm EST|2,957 views
Biden Just Hit The Brakes On Trump’s Clean Car Rollback. Now It’s Time To Accelerate Toward All-Electric Vehicles.
What a historic inauguration day for climate policy! By the end of the day, President Biden’s actions included rejoining the Paris climate accord, “climate change” reappearing on the White House website, and the Interior Department slowing down issuing new oil and gas drilling permits.
Many of these actions were directed at undoing Trump’s four-year assault on air and water quality, greenhouse gas reduction, environmental justice, and endangered species. The incoming Biden administration was sure footed – in my 32 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I had never seen a smoother transition, despite the previous administration’s resistance. But these initial steps have largely been about getting the country back to where we stood on January 19, 2017. Now we need to rapidly move forward on the climate crisis.
One of President Biden’s first-day executive orders creates a viable, proven road forward that will cut greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs. ”Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” directs EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish “Ambitious, Job-Creating Fuel Economy Standards” and to “propose suspending, revising or rescinding” the Trump roll-back of the Obama administration’s 2025 clean car program by April 2021.
But what does this mean?
The executive order requires EPA to quickly undo Trump’s rollback of President Obama’s clean car rules. From 2021-2026, the Trump rollback would add 867 million metric tons of carbon pollution from , burn two billion additional barrels of oil (equivalent to the pollution from 216 coal plants running for a year) and cost consumers more than $460 million at the pump. EPA must prevent this looming climate disaster, but the Obama-era clean car program took years of negotiations with automakers and other stakeholders. Under the executive order, the EPA has until April – less than four months.
Fortunately, Trump’s deregulatory rollback was so tilted toward oil companies – and so out-of-touch with markets – that automakers themselves have already pushed back. Six car manufacturers, including BMW, Ford, Honda, Volvo, and VW risked Trump’s wrath to voluntarily cut a deal with the state of California. They agreed to meet more stringent targets, much closer to the Obama-era rules, in order to avoid state-imposed penalties. MORE FOR YOUDid You Get A Second Stimulus Check Today? Here’s WhyTrump Signs Executive Orders To Extend COVID-19 Economic Relief, Includes Unemployment Benefits, Eviction MoratoriumBiden: Stimulus Bill Passed During Lame Duck Session Is ‘At Best Just A Start’
The most efficient way to restore the Obama clean car program is for EPA to run with this deal – simply adopt the existing California agreement with automakers as the federal standard. Then, the Biden administration can immediately focus EPA’s resources on developing ambitious, post-2026 greenhouse gas standards that can go further to address climate change.
It is in setting an agenda beyond 2026 where Biden has to break new ground in fighting the climate crisis. Here’s one straightforward way to do just that: Issue a new executive order requiring all new car sales be electric vehicles by 2035. An all-electric target would be consistent with achieving a carbon-neutral transportation sector by 2050. 2035 is the halfway point to this milestone, and considering most vehicles remain on the road for a decade or more, those remaining 15 years are a short time to convert the fleet of 240 million light duty vehicles on U.S. roads to electric.
Such long-term targets serve as an important blueprint for the administration to work with car manufacturers, unions, states, Congress, and other stakeholders to map out financial incentives, policies, and investments required to achieve the goal. It will give markets a clear directional signal for investing in green technologies and for car manufacturers’ boards to approve the significant investments needed to retool and transition from gasoline to electric vehicles.
President Biden has already laid the groundwork for such a bold next step by pledging billions of investment into new charging stations, tax credits for buying electric vehicles, public sector electric vehicle purchases, battery research, and retrofitting school buses with electric powertrains. That’s a lot of work – and Biden estimates it will create one million good paying jobs to do it.
Setting ambitious transportation decarbonization goals and investing in the electric vehicle industry will supercharge a clean, growing, and innovative manufacturing sector. We already know that it will work: Aspirational greenhouse gas standards and financial incentives are driving rapid electric vehicle sales and investments in the European Union.
In 2018, the European Union set strict new carbon dioxide standards for cars, starting at roughly 57 miles per gallon in 2020 and rising to around 92 miles per gallons by 2030. The EU enforced the rules with heavy fines for companies not meeting the standards, but it also offered a carrot.
In December 2019, the European Union announced “The Green Deal” which includes an investment of €1 trillion to transition from fossil fuels to zero-emissions vehicles. In 2020, as the pandemic hit, the European Union implemented significant financial incentives to boost electric vehicle sales. In Germany, for example, the government’s stimulus package for an electric car can be as much as a €9,000 ($10,930) incentive.
The result? In 2020, despite the pandemic, Europe set a record – more than 500,000 electric vehicle sales.
The European Union and individual countries continue to push even further. Countries and cities representing around 45% of global passenger car sales have announced target dates for banning sales of new gasoline and diesel cars. Norway has the earliest ban in 2024, the United Kingdom will only allow electric vehicle sales in 2030, and Japan has proposed banning new gasoline cars sales by 2035.
Some U.S. states are keeping pace. Last summer, California banned new gasoline cars sales by 2035; Massachusetts followed a couple of weeks ago. These announcements, along with stringent standards, have discouraged car manufacturers from further internal combustion technology investments. Instead, more than $300 billion investment has been committed globally by automotive companies to the electric vehicle race.
John Kerry, the new presidential climate envoy, already urged the U.S. and other nations for much deeper carbon cuts to avoid dire climate impacts. Transportation, at 28% of total emissions, is America’s leading source of greenhouse gases, and a major source of hazardous air pollution that impacts public health, especially urban communities of color and low-income families. A rapid transition to zero-emitting vehicles must be central to any climate agenda.
With the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress and President Biden’s commitment to make transportation a central part of his administration’s climate program, this White House will be able to accelerate ambitious standards, financial incentives, and other policies to begin moving America forward in decisively addressing climate change.
Biden’s father supported his family selling used cars, and as a youngster, he reportedly washed and cleaned cars his dad brought home. As president, Biden can make 2021 the pivotal year that the U.S. transitions to a new era in “clean cars,” and takes a huge step toward protecting our own children and grandchildren from the devastating impacts of climate change.Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. Margo Oge
I served with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 32 years and, most recently, was the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) from… Read More Print Reprints & Permissions
Researchers behind a new paper explain their new approach to quantifying the remaining “carbon budget” – the maximum amount of CO2 that may be emitted to stabilise warming at a particular level – for the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C. They estimate a range of 230-440bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) from 2020 onwards, corresponding to a “one-in-three to one-in-two” chance of not exceeding 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times.
Chamber of Commerce says it is open to carbon pricing, in change of climate stance Many publications are also covering preparations for the significant shift on climate that a Biden presidency marks. The Washington Examiner reports that the Chamber of Commerce, a business group, has announced that it is open to a carbon tax, a “significant shift” in its strategy “as it moves to get ahead of aggressive action favoured by the incoming Biden administration”. According to Bloomberg, the important lobbying group has updated its position statement to say it supports “durable climate policy” made by Congress, including “a market-based approach to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the US economy”. It also supports federal regulations to directly limit oil and gas methane emissions, the website adds. Reuters notes that prior to this the organisation has “long been an opponent of policies to put a price on carbon or mandate emission reduction cuts”.
Separately, the Washington Post reports that after four years of trade clashes and “unpredictable foreign policy”, Biden’s plan to cancel Keystone pipeline had brought frustration among Canadian officials and signals “the return of more familiar bilateral irritants”. There is also speculation around Biden’s plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement as soon as he becomes president, with the Press Association noting that this raises “hopes of renewed momentum on tackling global warming”. Bloomberg has a “quick take” looking at what the agreement is and the significance of US re-entry, stating that the new president is expected to “ultimately develop a more stringent carbon-cutting pledge for the US, as the nation seeks to restore trust with other signatories after the Trump-led exodus from the pact”. A piece by Guardian US environment reporter Oliver Milman reports that Biden’s “aggressive opening salvo to help address the climate crisis” is also set to include “various executive orders to resurrect a host of pollution rules either knocked down or weakened by the Trump administration”. The New York Times has a piece on the “nerve centre” for climate in the Biden White House, stating that it will see its “largest team of climate change experts ever assembled” by a US administration. The piece includes some of the expected executive orders in the coming days, including one “aimed at re-establishing scientific integrity in federal decision-making
Margo Oge is currently a distinguished fellow with Climate Works Foundation, and a member of the board of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). She is a member of the NAS Advisory Committee for the US Global Climate Change Research Program and Volkswagen’s International Sustainability Council. After 32 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, she retired as the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality. She led President Obama’s first climate action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of light duty vehicles by 50 percent in 2025. She received presidential awards from Presidents Clinton and Bush, and the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award from California. She has an MS in engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and attended George Washington and Harvard universities.
Margo Oge, chair of International Council on Clean Transportation, In January 2020, Margo Oge was elected as Chair of the ICCT’s Board of Directors. Ms. Oge is the former Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a position that culminated a 32-year career with the EPA. During her 18-year tenure as Director of OTAQ, Ms. Oge was the chief architect of the most important achievements in the history of air pollution control in the U.S. transportation sector. These included programs that reduced emissions from gasoline and diesel-fueled automobiles, trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles by up to 99 percent. She led the EPA’s development of the first-ever national greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and heavy-duty trucks, helped establish the Renewable Fuels Standard, and was instrumental in establishing the United Nations process on global harmonization of transportation emissions standards worldwide. She is a Distinguished Fellow with the ClimateWorks Foundation, a member of the Volkswagen Group’s International Sustainability Council, member of the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the US Global Change Research Program.
served the United States Environmental Protection Agency for 32 years from 1980 to September 2012. She is widely recognized as being a key architect of the agency’s efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
During her recent 18-year tenure as director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, Oge was the chief architect of the most important achievements in the history of air pollution control in the U.S. transportations sector. These included programs that reduced emissions from automobiles and gasoline fuel, trucks, buses, off-road vehicles including locomotives marine vessels and diesel fuel up to 99 percent. Combined, the programs are estimated to prevent over 40,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses each year.
Oge earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Massachusetts. She also studied economics at The George Washington University and completed the Senior Executive Program in government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
2020.09.27 Press release
September 28, 2020 (Berlin) — A new analysis of the real-world usage of more than 100,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles shows a large deviation between on-road CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency…
31 Countries, States, And Cities Have Gas/Diesel Car Bans In Place
January 2nd, 2021 by Steve Hanley
There is a fundamental difference of opinion between those who think government has a duty to create the rules for an orderly society and those who think government should stay out of the way and let people create their own commercial and personal relationships. Never the twain shall meet, apparently.
The conflict becomes most acute when the response to an overheating planet is the topic of discussion. There is a large (and growing) number of people who think the free market is all humanity needs to craft responses to global warming. If water is scarce, it will become more expensive. That in turn will induce people to make economic choices like whether to stay and pay the higher prices or move to where prices are lower. It’s the magic of Adam Smith’s “unseen hand” at work and it guarantees the most efficient use of capital. It also insures that some people will become very, very wealthy and what’s wrong with that?
The other side of the coin is the laws and policies created by governments can encourage actors in the private sector to take risks they would otherwise avoid. Government loan guarantees unlock access to capital for all sorts of clean tech ventures from solar panel makers to lithium mines. Governments can also underwrite basic scientific research that is too expensive for private enterprise to tackle and help accelerate the commercial acceptance of new technologies.
Focus On Electric Vehicles
Let’s focus on electric vehicles. If people want EVs, let them vote with their wallets. If prices are too high, few will buy them and that’s the way things should be if you are a free market advocate. Forget rebates, tax credits, and the like. If charging infrastructure is required, let private industry build it. Tesla has done so without any government help. Why can’t other companies do the same? There were no government incentives to encourage people to buy conventional cars or build gas stations, why should there be any for electric cars and EV charging networks today?
Logically, the free market advocates are correct. We didn’t need rebates to encourage people to buy cell phones or microwaves or VCRs (remember them?). What’s the big deal about electric vehicles? Why should they get preferential treatment? There are three answers.
One, human activity has contributed to the planet getting hotter, putting the ability of human beings to continue living on our little blue lifeboat at the far edge of the universe at risk. The need to act is immediate and urgent.
Two, the free market system so vigorously defended by its supporters is a lie. Fossil fuel companies pay NOTHING for the harm they do to the environment. It’s as if your neighbor built a campground next door and decided to dump all the effluent on your land for free. If that happened, you would be pretty upset and justifiably so. But because the damage done by extracting and burning fossil fuels is largely invisible, the pollution continues unabated.
Three, the fossil fuel industry gets massive subsidies from national and local governments. If the free market promoters were honest, they would demand an end to such financial and policy supports because they distort the economic parameters. In other words, they are in favor of free markets that favor them but opposed to free markets that favor others. There is a name for such cognitive dissonance — hypocrisy.
If humans have any hope of heading off the worst consequences of global heating, government action will be essential. Much to the consternation of the free market crowd, at the start of 2021 there are 31 national and local governments that have announced bans on the sale of some forms of transportation powered by internal combustion engines. Here’s the complete list as compiled by Charged Future.
If you are in favor of passing on to your heirs a planet where they can continue to thrive, these bans should be welcome news. If you are a free marketeer who believes passionately in the right to acquire wealth regardless of the consequences, it will set your teeth on edge. The one thing we can all be certain of is the free market crowd will never, ever admit there may be some deficiencies in their view point. Heaven forfend that the so-called level playing field they rhapsodize about should actually be level for all people, not just them.