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The Week In Green Vehicles
Mike Millikin, 21 Nov 04

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news. Green Car Congress is by far the best resource around for news and analysis covering the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:

Policy debates surrounding greenhouse gases (GHG) and global warming were much in the news this week. GHG regulations and policies are critical factors shaping the speed with which transportation moves to more sustainable technologies.

With Russia’s formal notification of its acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN, the pact now starts its official 90-day countdown to being in effect for the 128 signatory nations.

Industrialized countries—with the notable exception of the U.S. and Australia, which rejected the pact—will have until 2012 to cut their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases to 5.2% percent below the 1990 level.

Members of the Canadian government, as part of their adherence to Kyoto, announced their determination to follow California’s lead by mandating a 25% reduction in automotive GHG emissions by 2010.

For their part, automakers and dealers are going to court to support an EPA ruling that the government does not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and National Automobile Dealers Association are among a wide range of industry groups that back the EPA. The alliance represents the Detroit Big 3 and six import-brand automakers. NADA represents more than 20,000 franchised new-vehicle dealers.

US Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said that he disagrees with the conclusion of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report that the burning of fossil fuels is a major factor in climate change. While agreeing that climate change is “a serious problem”, the Senator wants to fund more research.

On the (meagre) plus side of the federal GHG policy ledger, the US joined 13 other nations in launching the Methane to Markets partnership, a set of initiatives aimed at capturing and using methane emitted from landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas systems.

As noted here on WorldChanging multiple times, states will need to—and in these current circumstances, must—drive rational emissions policies. California and a block of Eastern States opting to regulate automotive CO2 is a good start, and adding Canada to the mix means that a significant plurality of vehicle markets in North America could soon have automotive GHG restrictions.

In the alternative fuels area,

  • Researchers from Luca Technologies discovered evidence pointing to the active, real-time creation of natural gas by anaerobic bacteria in coal fields. In other words, renewable natural gas. (GCC post)

  • Researchers in New Zealand described a new combination of biomass-powered electrolysis and filtration through native volcanic ironsands to produce highly purified hydrogen.

  • Honda and Plug Power demonstrated their second generation Home Energy System (HES II): a home system that generates hydrogen from natural gas for use in fuel cell vehicles while supplying electricity and hot water to the home. (GCC post)

And as for the vehicles themselves:

  • Hino is sending two diesel-hybrid medium duty trucks to the US for testing and evaluation in delivery fleets. (GCC post)

  • New York State is leasing two Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicles—the first Eastern customer for the vehicles, and the first delivery of these FCVs into a cold-weather environment. The second-generation FCX uses Honda’s own fuel cell stack that supports cold-weather operation. (GCC post)

  • Samsung showed off a hydrogen scooter that creates its own hydrogen as it goes from sodium borohydride. (GCC post)

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Posted by: Somender on 22 Nov 04

don't underrate the importance of methane reductions in the developing world - not only is it technologically feasible more or less immediately (unlike CO2 reduction plans), not only is it currently the most cost-effective way to reduce GHGs, not only does it help instead of hinder developing economies, but it is a key first step towards making the currently-very-sketchy CO2 reduction plans effective -

I'm somewhat shocked that Worldchanging has so brazenly ignored this initiative, despite this blog's supposed concern over the climate change issue. political prejudice shouldn't prevent the recognition of concrete progress, it gives the lie to your supposedly 'non-partisan' stance. I didn't really think this was actually a non-partisan blog before, but this sin of omission really makes it plain

Posted by: John Atkinson on 22 Nov 04

You're right and you're wrong, John.

You're right that the methane reduction plans are a very good way of fighting greenhouse gases; if Hansen and Sato's numbers are correct, we should definitely be moving quickly to adopt further controls. Thank you for pointing me to the press release; I missed it when it came out.

You're wrong, though, to assert that WorldChanging has intentionally "ignored" either the methane control initiative or the Hansen & Sato piece in PNAS. The reality is that, as much as we try to scan a wide variety of news and information sources, some stories do fall through the cracks. I saw the details of the Methane to Markets initiative when Mike sent in his weekend piece, and his link to info on it. I missed the Eurekalert on the PNAS article entirely. That happens.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 22 Nov 04

jamais - fair enough, I suppose - I just kinda figured that with your relatively sizeable staff and readership that someone would've pointed it out. it was pretty prominently displayed on both the NY Times and WaPo online editions last week, though I suppose those and the other news services you scan are certainly to 'blame' for giving top billing to just about any story on disastrous hypothetical climate change scenarios while largely ignoring a crucially important and concrete step towards GHG reduction. notably, the M2M treaty even includes China and other developing countries (US too!), unlike Kyoto. the environmental news services have been particularly poor on picking up on this, and I suppose that I've unfairly singled y'all out because you have a comments section. I apologize for the accusatory tone, and will certainly send a note about any US-centric good news that escapes the eco-filters in the future before I obnoxiously complain about it!

Posted by: John Atkinson on 22 Nov 04

Hey Mike--

Another great This Week in Green Vehicles! Well done, man, well done... this is really starting to rock!


Posted by: Alex Steffen on 23 Nov 04



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