Friday, February 10, 2023

Norway: Plug-In Car Sales Collapsed By 80% In January 2023

January 2023 was a very unusual month in Norway, as the automotive market noted the lowest number of new passenger car registrations since 1962 (61 years ago). In total, only 1,860 new cars were registered last month (down 77 percent year-over-year). That's a massive drop (by 95 percent) compared to the previous month (39,497 in December).

The Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) explains that several things caused such a result. The first was war and pandemic (supply constraints), which caused lower sales in early 2022 and higher sales in late 2022 (specifically in November and December).

The next thing is VAT for new electric cars with a price above 500,000 NOK ($48,248) starting from January 1, as well as a new weight tax for all passenger cars. In other words, customers rushed to buy cars in late 2022, but in early 2023 there were not too many customers. OFV says that it's too early to say whether the sales drop will extend beyond the Spring.

Plug-in electric car sales were significantly affected by the above, and in January the number of new registrations amounted to 1,419 (down 80 percent year-over-year). That's still about 76.3 percent of the total market.

The gasoline, diesel, and non-rechargeable hybrids accounted for 23.7 percent in January - the highest value in more than two years (1.9% gasoline, 7.6% diesel, 14.2% hybrids).


New Zealand's cow burps probably don't matter much

Kevin Trenberth

image from

New Zealand, where agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change, is proposing a tax on cow burps. The reason seems simple enough: Cows release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and New Zealand has a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by midcentury.

But is methane from cows really as bad for the climate as methane from fossil fuels? And given its shorter lifetime in the atmosphere, is methane as bad as carbon dioxide?

Some carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. But methane, the second-most important greenhouse gas, lingers in the atmosphere for only about a decade before being oxidized to form carbon dioxide.

However, its effects can be misjudged. A rough equivalence of the heating from methane to that of carbon dioxide is often used to estimate its effects on the climate, but the number varies by the time frame.

The global warming potential typically used for methane is 28 times that of carbon dioxide for a 100-year period. But a spike in methane has no effect after about 30 years because the methane is well gone by then. So, methane’s effects on temperature are greatly overstated over centuries, while considerably understated over the first 20 years. Indeed, scientists have argued that short-lived climate pollutants such as methane should be split out from long-lived ones such as carbon dioxide when making policy.

Biogenic or fossil?

Biogenic methane comes from all sorts of livestock – cattle, sheep, goats, deer and even buffalo – and it has a circular life.

It originates as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is taken up by grass and other plants during photosynthesis. Those plants are eaten by animals and then methane is burped out during digestion, or released as flatulence or through decaying manure. Once released, methane stays in the atmosphere for about a decade before it becomes carbon dioxide and is taken up by plants again.

Some carbon is temporarily stored as meat, leather or wool, but it too is eventually recycled. The amount of methane from livestock would be stable were it not for rising demand for animal protein by the ever-increasing global population, leading to increasing livestock on farms.

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, have been in the Earth for millions of years. Fossil methane is a waste product of coal mines, and also is extracted from shale and other underground deposits as natural gas.

While biogenic methane ultimately recycles the carbon dioxide that was its source a short time ago, fossil-sourced methane adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Studies have estimated that livestock is responsible for about one-third of global anthropogenic methane emissions, while oil and gas operations represent about 63%.

That doesn’t mean countries shouldn’t reduce biogenic methane, too. But the circular life of biogenic methane means that it should be considered separately from fossil methane when determining how to manage emissions to reach net zero by 2050.

Implications for climate policies

Many of the actions that governments take today under the guise of net-zero emissions risk passing the harms of climate change down to future generations rather than fundamentally solving the problem. Strategies that aim to reduce carbon from any source, as opposed to focusing on reducing the use of fossil fuels, are an example.

Right now, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is generally treated interchangeably with carbon emissions from clearing forests or from methane emissions. Simple conversion factors, while convenient, mask complicated value judgments. For example, reducing methane may buy a decade of lower temperatures. Reducing fossil carbon, on the other hand, buys thousands of years.

Steadying or reducing livestock numbers and perhaps changing their feed can stabilize their methane emissions. But to address the climate change crisis long term, I believe it is essential to recognize that the real solution for climate change is to cut emissions of fossil fuels.


Climate & Human History: Horrors of the Greek Dark Ages

History tells us that bad things happen when the climate cools. Very bad things. The first of the cold periods we will examine came at the end of the Bronze Age’s Minoan Warm Period.

A drop in temperature at the start of the 13th century B.C. ushered in dramatic changes that were devastating to humanity. Drought descended on Europe, North Africa, West Asia and western North America. The ever-greater numbers of people residing in ever-larger cities of ambitious empires were overcome by sudden climatic changes.

Areas that once prospered now faced famine and hunger. Between 1250 and 1150 B.C. there was widespread decimation of nearly all the great empires that had prospered during the Minoan Warm Period. This period of societal collapse is known as the Late Bronze Age Collapse.

According to historian David Kaniewski (2013): "The abrupt climate change at the end of the Late Bronze Age caused region-wide crop failures, leading towards socio-economic crises and unsustainability."

Following the collapse, survivors entered a “dark age” where iron replaced bronze and nearly all trade, art and architecture disappeared:

"Civilization vanished for four centuries or more. The dark centuries lingered in the collective memory for many generations." (Fagan, 2004)

Once again, we find that, contrary to claims of additional warming leading to catastrophe, history tells us that we should welcome the warmth and fear the cold.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Strange how the tale about dropping car registrations in January didn't note the pathetic performance of electric cars during the colder months of the year where their batteries are weak to start with and their range is cut dramatically just as they are also most needed to also warm the vehicles. Surely those who've bought such cars are spreading the word even if the media seems unable to admit that problem.