Sunday, November 22, 2020

Quebec to ban sale of new gasoline-powered cars as of 2035

The Canadian province of Quebec said on Monday it will ban the sale of new gasoline-powered passenger cars as of 2035, joining California and others in announcing moves to shift to electric vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Canada’s second-most populous province announced the ban as part of a $5.1 billion plan over five years to help Quebec meet a target of reducing its greenhouses gases by 37.5% by 2030, in comparison with 1990 levels, Premier Francois Legault told reporters in Montreal.

The ban will bring Quebec in line with other jurisdictions such as California, the largest US auto market, which in September announced a move to electric vehicles starting in 2035.

The Canadian province of British Columbia has already moved to phase out fuel-powered cars and trucks over a two-decade period, with a total ban on their sale or lease coming into effect in 2040.

The United Kingdom is also said to be working on a similar decision.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised sweeping measures to fight climate change and boost economic growth, including making zero-emission vehicles more affordable and investing in charging stations across the country.

While the coronavirus pandemic has forced the Liberal leader to focus more on emergency aid to help businesses and people get through the downturn, the government has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and is expected to begin earmarking investments in a fiscal update before Christmas and a separate budget early next year.

Rich world’s drive to electric cars gets us nowhere


The electric car industry is elated with an incoming Biden administration because it promises to extend and increase electric car subsidies to fix climate change.

Similarly, leaders across the rich world promise lavish carrots along with sticks to outlaw petrol cars. This week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. Unfortunately, electric cars will achieve only tiny emissions savings at a very high price.

Electric cars are certainly fun, but almost everywhere cost more across their lifetime than their petrol counterparts. That is why large subsidies are needed. And consumers are still anxious because of the short range and long recharging times.

Despite the US handing out up to $US10,000 ($13,700) for each electric car, less than 0.5 per cent of its cars are battery electric. And almost all the support goes to the rich. Ninety per cent of electric car owners also have a fossil fuel driven car that they drive farther. Indeed, electric vehicles are mostly a second car used for shorter trips and virtue signalling.

If you subsidise the electric car enough, people will buy it. Almost 10 per cent of all Norway’s passenger cars are electric because of incredibly generous policies that waive most costs, from taxes to tolls, parking and congestion.

Across its lifetime, a $US30,000 car might receive benefits worth more than $US26,000. But this approach is unsustainable for most nations. Even super-rich Norway is starting to worry, losing more than $1bn every year from exempt drivers.

Technological innovation will eventually make electric cars economical even without subsidies, but concerns over range and slow recharging will remain. That is why most scientific prognoses show that electric cars will increase in sales but not take over the world. A new study shows that by 2030, just 13 per cent of new cars will be battery electric.

When governments suggest prohibiting fossil fuel cars by then, they essentially are forbidding 87 per cent of consumers from buying the cars they want. It is difficult to imagine that could be politically viable.

The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2030, if all countries live up to their promises, the world will have 140 million electric cars on the road, about 7 per cent of the global vehicle fleet. Yet this would not make a significant impact on emissions for two reasons.

First, electric cars require large batteries, often produced in China using coal power. Just producing the battery for an electric car can emit almost as much as a quarter of the greenhouse gases emitted from a petrol car across its entire lifetime.

Second, the electric car is recharged on electricity that almost everywhere is significantly fossil fuel based.

Together, this means that a long-range electric car will emit more CO2 for its first 60,000km. This is why having a second electric car for short trips could mean higher overall emissions.

Comparing the electric and petrol car, the IEA estimates the electric car will save six tonnes of CO2 across its lifetime, assuming global average electricity emissions. Even if the electric car has short range and its battery is made in Europe mostly using renewable energy, its savings will be at most 10 tonnes.

The electric car is recharged on electricity that almost everywhere is significantly fossil fuel based.

When Joe Biden wants to restore the full electric car tax credit, it means he will essentially pay $US7500 to reduce emissions by at most 10 tonnes. Yet he can get US power producers to cut 10 tonnes for just $US60. His spending on electric car subsidies could have cut 125 times more CO2.

Indeed, if the whole world follows through and gets to 140 million electric cars by 2030, the IEA estimates it will reduce emissions by just 190 million tonnes of CO2 — a mere 0.4 per cent of global emissions. In the words of IEA executive director Fatih Birol: “If you think you can save the climate with electric cars, you’re completely wrong.”

We need a reality check. First, politicians should stop writing huge cheques just because they believe electric cars are a major climate solution.

Second, there is a much better and simpler solution. The hybrid car, such as the Toyota Prius, saves about the same amount of CO2 as an electric car across its lifetime. Moreover, it is competitive to petrol-driven cars already today, even without subsidies. And crucially, it has none of the electric car downsides, needing no new infrastructure, no range anxiety and quick refill.

Third, climate change doesn’t care about where CO2 comes from. Personal cars are only about 7 per cent of global emissions and electric cars will help only a little. Instead, we should focus on the big emitters of heating and electricity production. If we could drive research and development of green energy in these areas to become cheaper than fossil fuels, this would be a game changer.

Right now electric car subsidies are something wealthy countries can afford to give rich elites to show virtue. But if we want to fix climate, we need to focus on the big emitters and drive innovation to create better low-CO2 energy from fusion, fission, geothermal, wind, solar and many other possible ways forward.

Innovations that will make just one of them cheaper than fossil fuels means not just well-meaning rich people changing a bit but everyone, including China, India and nations in Africa and Latin America, switching large parts of their energy consumption towards zero emissions.

Kansas Utility Proposes Solar Power Access Fee

Evergy, Kansas’s largest utility, has filed a proposal with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), the state’s public utility regulatory agency, to charge customers with solar panels about $25 a month to pay for the cost of servicing the special needs of their homes, which both pull power from and deliver power to the electric grid.

The proposal comes after the Kansas Supreme Court, in April, struck down a previous “demand charge” imposed on homes and businesses with roof top solar hookups, ruling the charge violated the state’s law barring price discrimination.

Ceasing Cross Subsidization of Solar

Evergy says it needs to recoup the costs of managing the two way flow of power to homes equipped with distributed generation systems like roof top solar panels. If roof-top solar households don’t cover the added costs, homes and businesses lacking distributed generation sources unfairly subsidize the costs of the solar power systems, says Evergy.

Under Evergy’s preferred proposal, the utility would charge every customer a grid access fee of $3 per kilowatt of solar panels installed. This would add approximately $20 to $30 a month to the bill of the average house with a typical 7 to 10 kilowatts solar power system.

Because $3 per kilowatt installed times zero, is zero, customers without solar panels would pay nothing.

Because the proposed grid connection fee is charged to every customer it doesn’t discriminate against solar users, even though it results in the vast majority of customers paying no access charge.

Alternative Plans Charges Everyone

If regulators, or ultimately Kansas’ courts, reject Evergy’s preferred proposal, it has submitted an alternative plan to charge all customers a minimum of $35 fee per month just for accessing the electric grid it maintains. This fee would not be felt by most of Evergy’s customers, however, because it would count against their energy consumption.

For the households that use less than $35 dollars a month in electricity, a class which includes some roof top solar customers, but which Evergy also admits includes poor households, this would mean an increase in their power bills.

Evergy’s filing with the KCC reported in 2016 about 140,000 bills in low-income areas were less than $35 for at least one month of the year.

Someone has to pay for the additional costs roof-top solar systems add to the electrical grid, if not solar customers, then everyone, Bradley Lutz, Evergy’s director of regulatory affairs, said in testimony filed with KCC.

State regulators held virtual public hearing on the proposed rates on November 5. It is currently accepting written public comments concerning Evergy’s proposals until December 21.

Biden’s plan to combat climate change leaves coal-loving Australia an outlier

Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election was largely welcomed by America's friends as a step toward more predictable and conventional U.S. foreign policy. One close American ally, though, faces a thorny predicament as a result of Biden's plan to build a global coalition to combat global warming: Australia.

Australia is the world’s second-largest coal exporter and top liquefied natural gas exporter, according to industry bodies, and one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases per person. This status, combined with years of hand-wringing on both sides of Australian politics over climate policies, has earned the country a reputation as a climate-change laggard.

Under pressure from coal and gas interests, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to adopt the prevailing international target of reaching net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, putting Australia at odds with the incoming U.S. administration, the European Union, Britain and Japan. Even China, a big buyer of Australian coal, has pledged to be net neutral by 2060.

Morrison, by contrast, famously brought a lump of coal into Parliament in 2017, telling those seeking bolder steps on emissions reduction: “Don’t be afraid.”

Record fires and dead coral reefs aren’t dulling Australia’s lust for coal

Biden’s election has emboldened Australians who say their country has a moral obligation to be at the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change. That’s placing intense political pressure on Morrison’s conservative government as the country heads into another summer, less than a year after wildfires scorched vast tracts of the country and spurred calls for urgent steps to alleviate the threat from longer fire seasons and increasingly calamitous conditions.

“Australia has nowhere to hide,” former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd said in an interview. “It’s time for Morrison to swallow his pride, admit he was wrong and embrace a carbon target.”

The Liberal-National coalition government, which signed Australia up for the 2016 Paris climate agreement before Morrison became leader in 2018, has said it expects to achieve net-zero emissions at an indeterminate point in the future.

In the meantime, the government, which abolished a tax on emissions in 2014, has decided to base its energy policy on the use of natural gas, angering scientists who are pushing for greater use of wind and solar power.

“Our policies won’t be set in the United Kingdom; they won’t be set in Brussels; they won’t be set in any part of the world other than here,” Morrison said last week.

U.S. trade threat

When it comes to the environment, Australia is a paradox. Proud of setting aside some 23 percent of its landmass for parks and reserves, and the guardian of the Great Barrier Reef, the nation is nonetheless a significant contributor to global warming through its large mining and energy industries.

Australia is the only member of the 37-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that has not set minimum fuel-efficiency standards for cars, according to Christian Downie, an academic at the Australian National University in Canberra who studies climate politics.

Once a Biden administration takes office, one of the main economic threats to Australia is whether the United States goes ahead with a plan to impose tariffs on big emitters of carbon dioxide.




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