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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for June 7, 2012.

Posted: 07 Jun 2012 12:00:55
ARB News Clips for June 7, 2012. 

This is a service of the California Air Resources Board’s Office
of Communications.  You may need to sign in or register with
individual websites to view some of the following news articles.


UN report warns environment is at tipping point.  The earth's
environmental systems "are being pushed towards their biophysical
limits," beyond which loom sudden, irreversible and potentially
catastrophic changes, the United Nations Environment Program
warned Wednesday.  In a 525-page report on the health of the
planet, the agency paints a grim picture: The melting of the
polar ice caps, desertification in Africa, deforestation of
tropical jungles, spiraling use of chemicals and the emptying out
of the world's seas are just some of myriad environmental
catastrophes posing a threat to life as we know it.  Posted. 


Climate change message needs to be closer to home to hit home,
say researchers.  In a project that aimed to analyse public
perceptions of global warming, the researchers focused on
‘psychological distance’ in prompting people to go greener and
the significance of uncertainty as justification for inaction. 
The study, led by Dr Alexa Spence, found that in general the
closer people felt to the problem, the more concerned about
climate change they were. It also recommends that more needs to
be done to communicate the global impacts of climate change and
highlight the severity of the problem.  Posted. 

China's ambitious carbon trading proposals may be shelved.  China
will continue to keep electricity prices stable depite the effect
on the country’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and
greenhouse gas emissions, Reuters reported, citing an official
from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC),
China’s state planning agency.  Speaking at the release of an
International Energy Agency study on power sector participation
in emissions trading, Sun Cuihua, vice-head of the climate change
department of the NDRC, on Wednesday said China's power sector
will be excluded from a proposed national carbon trading scheme. 


Airline group says biofuels need govt support.  Airlines need
government support to lower the cost of biofuels that could help
to reduce pollution and carbon emissions, the head of the global
aviation industry group said Thursday.  Airlines have flown some
1,500 commercial flights using fuel made from plants, but
supplies are limited and costly, said Tony Tyler, chief executive
of the International Air Transport Association.  "We need
governments to adopt policies to help support commercialization
of biofuels to bring up the volume and bring down the price,"
Tyler said. He was in Beijing for IATA's annual general meeting,
due to be held next week.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:

Companies turn to bioplastics to eliminate oil from operations. 
After months of crude prices above $90 a barrel, many companies
are trying to wring the oil out of their operations.  Ford Motor
is using soybean foam in its upholstery. McDonald's is testing
paper cups for hot drinks in place of polystyrene containers,
which start out as petroleum. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are becoming
bioplastic bottlers. And a California cleaning products
manufacturer has set out to eliminate diesel from its fleet. 
"When oil was cheap, it became pervasive throughout our economy
in hundreds and hundreds of invisible ways, as a raw material,"
said Daniel Yergin, an energy consultant who wrote a Pulitzer
Prize-winning history of the oil industry.  Posted. 


Electric car fuel savings at a glance.  A car that gets 118 miles
per gallon sure sounds nice, but to figure out how much money you
will save, you have to look a little closer.The Environmental
Protection Agency has come up with a measurement called "miles
per gallon-equivalent." It measures how much energy it takes to
move an electric car. But that energy — electricity — is priced
very differently than gasoline.  At a national average retail
price of electricity of 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour, and a
national average retail price of gasoline of $3.57 per gallon,
electric vehicles can save about $1,000 in fuel costs per year.
The higher price of the electric vehicle, though, means it can
take more than 10 years of fuel savings to make up the
difference.  Posted. 

Car manufacturers to get new targets that will cut driving costs.
 The European Commission is next month to propose tighter carbon
emissions standards for new European cars with a 2020 target of
95gm CO2 per kilometre, that will cut costs for motorists by 25%.
 But the Commission has not decided whether to make the target
binding, and there are calls for the target to be even stiffer in
order to save drivers even more on fuel costs.  Currently,
manufacturers have to reach a binding target of 130gm CO2/km by
2015, which they are on target to attain. Fines for failure are
presently €95 for every gram over the target per vehicle and
these would be kept at the same level in the future.  Posted. 

Driving a PHV will not always make sound environmental sense.  In
January 2012, Toyota started selling its latest next generation
vehicle, the Plug-In Hybrid (PHV) Prius. Response’s
editor-in-chief Kazuya Miura put the car through its paces during
a 3-month field test. During this period the vehicle drove a
total of 3756 km and consumed 117 ltrs of gasoline and 220 kWh of
electricity, averaging a respectable 3.1 ltrs of fuel for 100km.
Based on the Japanese fuel consumption database “eNenpi”, the
previous model of Prius would for the same distance use 172.77
ltrs of gasoline or use 4,6 ltrs of fuel for 100 km. Using this
information, Response calculated corresponding equivalent CO2
emissions to compare the two Prius models from ecological
perspective.  Posted.  http://cars21.com/news/view/4692 

Waste Management launches compressed natural gas fleet.  Waste
Management GI Industries is operating cleaner and greener with
the addition of 23 new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) waste
collection vehicles to its fleet in Ventura County.  These next
generation CNG waste collection vehicles boasts several benefits:
The CNG engines are 50% quieter than comparable diesel engines
and emit 95% less particulate matter (PM) also known as soot and
90% less carbon monoxide (CO) than their diesel counterparts.
They are also cleaner burning than "low sulfur" diesel engines. 


Americans rank saving energy ahead of vacations.  As summer
beckons, it seems Americans are thinking more about the stifling
cost of energy than about making tracks to the beach.  Cutting
energy bills and use is a bigger deal to them than taking a
vacation or scoring the latest smartphone or tablet, according to
a survey by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that
asked people to choose priorities. Not even 1 in 5 ranked a
summer trip or the latest gadget as a priority, while majorities
said reducing electricity use and making homes energy-efficient
are important. But in typical American fashion, by far the
highest priority was having a reliable set of wheels.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:


Europe Calls for Green Goals Beyond 2020.  As if Europe’s member
states did not have enough pressure from above these days,
yesterday saw European Commission Energy Commissioner Günther
Oettinger push for greater cooperation and immediate action to
carry the region beyond the EU’s 2020 goals.  Adopted in 2009,
the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive includes a
binding agreement for 20 percent dependence on renewable energy
sources, a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions and a
non-binding 20 percent decrease in energy consumption, all
appropriately by 2020.  Posted. 

Fish Heads Turned Into Electricity Cut Wal-Mart's Bills: Energy. 
Fish heads and chicken fat are being turned into electricity by
the U.K.'s largest retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that
ship food waste to power plants to reduce garbage-removal fees. 
Tesco Plc, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, along with Marks
& Spencer Group Plc, John Lewis Partnership Plc's Waitrose,
William Morrison Supermarkets Plc and J Sainsbury Plc are testing
how meat and fish, cooking oils and leftover sandwiches can lower
energy bills and landfill costs when they're transported to
plants for converting into power.  Posted. 


Walnut Creek School Notes: Buena Vista Elementary wins national
green award.  A team of students from Buena Vista Elementary
School were among the winners of the "Siemens We Can Change the
World Challenge" a nationwide sustainability challenge.  The
Buena Vista team dubbed "What a Waste!" and its mentor Kari
Stewart won third place in the grades 3-5 elementary school
division of this year's challenge for their project on food
waste.  Students were tasked with identifying an environmental
issue at their school and creating a green solution. More than
27,000 students participated nationwide.  Posted. 

Urban wasteland: World Bank sees global garbage crisis.  The
world's city dwellers are fast producing more and more trash in a
"looming crisis" that will pose huge financial and environmental
burdens, the World Bank is warning.  Urban specialists said the
growing pile of trash from urban dwellers is as daunting as
global warming and the costs will be especially high in poor
countries, mainly in Africa.  In a report on "a relatively silent
problem that is growing daily," released on Wednesday, the World
Bank estimated city dwellers will generate a waste pile of 2.2
billion tonnes a year by 2025, up 70 percent from today's level
of 1.3 billion tonnes.  Posted. 


Champagne: Alberta is a leader on climate change policy.  Simon
Dyer from the Pembina Institute states that on climate change
policy, “Alberta is not a leader.” This follows a recent David
Suzuki Foundation report ranking the provinces for their
leadership efforts on climate action. Ontario, Quebec and B.C.
were ranked as “very good,” while Alberta was rated “worst.” 
While I have tremendous respect for Pembina and the David Suzuki
Foundation — and believe B.C. and Quebec should be lauded for
their respective initiatives, here are five reasons that if there
is any leader on climate action in North America, it is Alberta. 

DRIESSEN: Wind down wind subsidies.  A growing national coalition
opposed to perpetuating industrial wind giveaways and mythical
wind-power benefits has inspired thousands of Americans to call
their senators and representatives - and defeat four different
subsidy bills. A shocked American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
began aggressively recruiting well-connected political operatives
and co-sponsors, Republican and Democrat alike, who introduced
more proposals to extend the production tax credit (PTC). It also
launched parallel efforts in many state legislatures.  Posted. 

Climate Change: Brand or Be Branded.  It is very difficult to
understand the climate change denial platform on a purely
philosophical and scientific level. Climate change is a rather
obvious aspect of the history of the Earth and clearly man
interacts with climate in an increasingly dynamic manner. That
this is even debated appears on the surface to be not a little
ridiculous—somewhere on the level of discussing whether the Earth
is round or flat.  It is the semantics of it all, which, when
combined with politics and the necessary religio-political
elements, muddies the waters. Posted. 

Climate change’s worst enemy is its first victim: The city.  This
is a gorgeous infographic. Go look at it. Scroll through. Savor.
Appreciate the design — but pay attention to the point.  The
presentation is by C40, a group of 58 cities that work together
to share information and best practices about addressing climate
change. (Here’s previous Grist coverage of the group.)  Key
points from the presentation, quoted directly…Posted. 


Around the world, cap-and-trade is still alive and kicking.  When
the climate bill died in the U.S. Senate in 2010, most observers
assumed that was the last dying gasp for “cap-and-trade” as a
policy for tackling global warming. Around Washington D.C., it’s
hard to find an environmentalist or Democrat who will even
whisper the phrase anymore.  Yet cap-and-trade is very far from
dead. Across the globe, dozens of countries are either enacting
or studying cap-and-trade programs for their heat-trapping
greenhouse gases, according to the World Bank’s 2012 Carbon
Market Report.  Posted. 

U.S. completes warmest 12-month period again, record repeat.  The
period from June 2011 to May 2012 was the warmest 12-months since
records began (in 1895) in the continental United States. This
unprecedented stretch of warmth bests the previous 12-month
record, established just one month ago.  NOAA’s National Climatic
Data Center also reports today that:  the year-to-date period
(January-May) has been the warmest on record, 5 degrees above
average,  the spring period (March-May) was warmest on record in
the U.S., crushing the previous warmest spring (1910) by 2 full
degrees and an impressive 5.2 degrees above the 1901-2000
average.  Posted. 

EU considering lowering CO2 emissions targets.  One of the
reasons that automakers are working so diligently on making more
fuel efficient vehicles is because we're forcing them to. We,
through our elected officials, have set certain standards that
they have to meet in order to sell their wares. One of the
strongest is the CO2 emissions limits set by the European
Commission in 2008: 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2015. The
bad news? The EC might be backpedaling.  According to Reuters,
the EC might allow the rules to expand a bit to take things other
than a car's simple emissions number into account. Those things
include "infrastructure, driver behaviour and other measures,"
and the idea comes from documents written up by policy group CARS
21.  Posted. 

Imagine a Pollution Monitor That Checks Your Vital Signs.  A bus
just passed by. I think I have a headache.  This is the sort of
inane information that the most tweet-happy among us rush to
share with the rest of the indifferent world. But when collected
in a detailed, systematic manner and compiled in a central
database, it’s also the sort of information that the
Environmental Protection Agency desperately needs to get a handle
on to fully understand the links between air pollution and public
health.  Posted. 

Are We Nearing a Planetary Boundary?  The earth could be nearing
a point at which sweeping environmental changes, possibly
including mass extinctions, would undermine human welfare, 22
prominent biologists and ecologists warned on Wednesday. 
Acknowledging in a new paper that both the likelihood and timing
of such a planetary “state shift” were uncertain, the scientists
nonetheless described warning signs that it could arrive within a
few human generations, if not sooner.  Posted. 

Waffling on climate change? Consult friends, not science.  Ever
since climate scientist James Hansen first testified before
Congress about global warming in 1988, the scientists, advocates,
academics and former vice-presidents who work to stop climate
change have presumed that the science matters. Hansen began his
testimony by telling the assembled senators: “The earth is warmer
in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental
measurements,” in full confidence that instrumental measurements
would matter more than the weather outside the politicians’ front
doors. Like Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, Hansen depended on
graphs (he called them “viewgraphs”) and numbers to help make his
case.  Posted. 

2013 Chevy Volt increases range to 38 electric miles, 98 MPGe. 
And thus the mid-cycle product refresh – so common to computers
and cellphones – comes around again to GM's plug-in hybrid.  The
new EPA sticker for the 2013 Chevrolet Volt has been released,
and with it comes a fresh set of numbers. The highlights are an
improved all-electric range and miles per gallon equivalent
(MPGe) rating: 38 miles and 98 MPGe – that's three miles of
additional electric range and five more MPGe than last year. GM
said in a statement today that "minor changes to the material
composition of the battery cell chemistry" and a boost in overall
battery capacity from 16 kWh to 16.5 are responsible for the
increase.  Posted. 

Honda finds that $5-plus gas is 'tipping point'.  Do $6-a-gallon
gas and electric vehicles go hand in hand?  Well, it may be a
stretch to conclude that from a two-minute fifty-second
man-on-the-street video posted by Honda, but it may not be far
off.  Honda said it polled 1,000 Americans about their attitudes
towards both buying more fuel-efficient vehicles and potential
advanced powertrains and interviewed a handful of men and women
to see if their views were consistent with the larger poll. 

Honda Fit EV: Most Fuel-Efficient Car Ever? If EPA electric
equivalency ratings are any guideline, the little Honda is tops.
At the risk of sounding like a marketing flack, we'll just say
it: The Honda Fit EV is the most fuel-efficient vehicle ever
rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The electric Fit,
set to debut this summer in California and Oregon before heading
to the East Coast in 2013, set 118 combined electric miles per
"gallon," or MPGe. MPGe is the EPA's way of rating electric cars
in the same fashion as gasoline models, by converting
electricity's equivalent energy, in kilowatts, to a gallon of
gasoline.  Posted.

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