Wednesday 27th of January 2021

charging stations to replace petrol stations...

charging station

The lifespan of the internal combustion engine just got shorter. Last week, the UK announced a ban on selling fossil-fuelled cars from 2030. Across the Channel, green vehicles have been built into coronavirus recovery packages and the only car ads on TV are for hybrids or fully-electric vehicles. Even Uber is adapting; all ridesharing in European cities will be exclusively via electric vehicles within the decade.

As Europe changes gear, Australia remains utterly stalled. We have no mandatory fuel efficiency or greenhouse gas standards for the cars we drive. Almost all other G20 members do, even oil-rich Saudi Arabia. According to one study, the lack of binding fuel economy standards has cost Australian motorists $1 billion in the last three years.

The argument for such an effective policy – that would help save money and the climate – has been made many times before. What has changed is the escalation in global ambition in the last 12 months alone. Seismic shifts in auto manufacturing are threatening to turn Australia’s complacency into a strategic mistake.

If national subsidies have been the EV carrot to date, then it is the EU’s stick that is now turbocharging a revolution. By the end of this year, the EU will fine any auto manufacturers whose average CO2 emissions from vehicles sold in Europe exceed 95 g/km. For perspective, that is roughly half the carbon intensity of Australia’s vehicle fleet. Nevertheless, auto manufacturers are largely on track to meet the new threshold, belatedly pouring €60 million into low-emission technologies, 19 times more investment than last year.

The EU regulations apply to the aggregate intensity of a manufacturer’s total sales. So, while Toyota/Mazda have opted to laboriously chip away at their emissions by hybridising their existing fleet, others have found that selling cars with no emissions at all sufficiently offsets their other models. The all-electric Renault Zoe, for example, will almost singlehandedly achieve the Renault Group’s 2020 compliance. Similarly, Volkswagen will launch its last combustion engine model in 2026.

And consumers are responding. In France, electrified vehicle sales for the month of March quadrupled year-on-year while in Norway (where stricter standards and big subsidies were introduced earlier), EVs reportedly reached 80 percent of September sales. One study suggests that by year’s end, ten percent of new car sales in Europe will be electrified vehicles. Not even coronavirus can stop EVs going mainstream. McKinsey estimates that market penetration has grown despite a drop in overall vehicle sales and is forecasting strong EV growth in both Europe and China.

And here the rubber hits the road. There is an investment stampede towards electric vehicles that has nothing to do with the environment. The world’s manufacturing giants know that whoever wins the electric car race will win the industry’s future. The ultimate humiliation for Europe would be mass imports of Chinese EVs that directly undercut their home-grown carmakers; the EU now openly labels China a “systemic rival”.

For years, China’s strong government incentives have made it the world’s largest EV market with 3.5 million such cars expected on Chinese roads by 2022. China has successfully attracted the lion’s share of green automotive investment – until now. The advent of the EU’s 2020 standards saw 3.5 times more EV investment in Europe than in China. Even Tesla is opening an EV giga-plant just outside Berlin next year. The European Commission is now mulling tougher emissions standards from 2025.

EVs are also sweeping through Japan’s auto sector while strict Californian targets are dragging up US standards by default. Suddenly all the major players have an interest in selling not just more EVs, but fewer fossil-fuelled vehicles, with the latter inevitably dumped onto the only markets too short-sighted to restrict them.

Enter Australia – one of the most car-dependent countries on earth. While the rest of the world offloads their outdated fleets, Australia remains utterly exposed, with no defence against the coming flood of washed up vehicles that will lock us into third-rate technology for decades.


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Picture at top by Gus Leonisky: Hydro Majestic Charging Station, Blue Mountains.

Seas are rising faster than predicted...


Ask climate scientists how fast the world's oceans are creeping upward, and many will say 3.2 millimeters per year—a figure enshrined in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, from 2014. But the number, based on satellite measurements taken since the early 1990s, is a long-term average. In fact, the global rate varied so much over that period that it was hard to say whether it was holding steady or accelerating.

It was accelerating, big time. Faster melting of Greenland's ice has pushed the rate to 4.8 millimeters per year, according to a 10-year average compiled for Science by Benjamin Hamlington, an ocean scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and head of the agency's sea level change team. “The [Greenland] mass loss has clearly kicked into higher gear,” agrees Felix Landerer, a JPL sea level scientist. With the help of new data, new models of vertical land motion, and—this month—a new radar satellite, oceanographers are sharpening their picture of how fast, and where, the seas are gobbling up the land.

Hamlington and colleagues first reported signs of the speedup in 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Since then, they and others have become more confident about the trends. In a 2019 study in Nature Climate Change, a group led by Sönke Dangendorf, a physical oceanographer at Old Dominion University, used tide gauge readings that predate satellite records to show seas have risen 20 centimeters since 1900. The team's data show that, after a period of global dam building in the 1950s that held back surface water and slowed sea level rise, it began to accelerate in the late 1960s—not the late 1980s, as many climate scientists assumed, Dangendorf says. “That was surprising,” because the main drivers of sea level rise—the thermal expansion of ocean water from global warming, together with melting glaciers and ice sheets—were thought to have kicked in later.



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Seas are rising faster than ever

Paul Voosen

Science  20 Nov 2020:

Vol. 370, Issue 6519, pp. 901



We need to drive solar powered cars. Read from top.

still on track to kill the comfort settings of this planet...


Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Levels of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that contribute to global warming, peaked at 410.5 parts per million in 2019, according to the WMO. The annual increase is larger than the previous year and surpasses the average over the last decade.

"Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records," WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, referring to increases since 2015 and urging for a "sustained flattening of the (emissions) curve."

Lockdown drops just a 'blip'

The Geneva-based UN agency noted that shutdowns, border closures, flight groundings and other restrictions had cut emissions of many pollutants and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

As pandemic measures peaked earlier this year, daily CO2 output dropped 17% below last year's mean level, preliminary results of the WMO's main annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin found.

But the WMO warned against complacency and said the global plunge in industrial activities due to the pandemic had not restricted record concentrations of the greenhouse gases that are trapping heat in the atmosphere, increasing temperatures, triggering sea levels to rise and prompting extreme weather.

"The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph," WMO chief Petteri Taalas said.

The annual impact was expected to be a drop of between 4.2% and 7.5%. But according to the WMO, this will not cause concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere to decrease and warned the impact on concentrations was "no bigger than the normal year to year fluctuations."

Worldwide data is not yet available for 2020 but the trend of surging concentrations appears to be intact, the group said, citing initial readings from its Tasmania and Hawaii stations.


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