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This Week in Sustainable Transportation, 1/30
Mike Millikin, 30 Jan 05

This Sunday, as always, Mike Millikin lays out for us the week's top stories in green cars and transportation-related environmental news. Metaefficient's Justin Thomas is taking the week off -- his Week in Green Design feature will return next week.

Quite a lot happened underscoring the need for urgent action on climate change this week:

  • A report from the International Climate Change Taskforce suggested that the planet may hit a point of no-return within 10 years if significant changes are not made. (BBC)

  • Tony Blair’s speech at Davos underscored his commitment to addressing climate change as one of his priorities as president of the upcoming G8 Summit.

  • Lord Oxbough, chairman of Shell UK, said at a Greenpeace conference that governments should push society towards a world less dependent on fossil fuel given the potentially “disastrous” consequences of climate change. (GCC)

  • The team at Oxford published the project’s current results in Nature. (Covered earlier on WorldChanging.) The project highlights that the climate may be more sensitive to rising levels of GHG than originally thought. (John Fleck provides a good perspective here.)
  • At the same time, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that US oil consumption rose at its highest rate in 5 years, with total petroleum deliveries climbing 2.3% in 2004. Domestic crude production fell 3.8% and crude oil imports grew 4.0%. US oil imports crossed the 10 million barrel per day threshold for the first time. (GCC)

    On the automaker front, Ford Motor was very active. The company is stepping up its rhetoric and its work on sustainable mobility.

  • CEO Bill Ford called hybrids and hydrogen both “game-changers” in his introduction to a financial analysts and investors conference in New York, and emphasized Ford’s work on four primary platforms: clean diesel, hybrids, hydrogen internal combustion engines and hydrogen fuel cells. (GCC)

  • Ford unveiled the HyTrans micro-hybrid diesel delivery van, developed in partnership with Ricardo, Valeo and Gates, at its testing ground in Essex, UK. (GCC)

  • Ford will be testing the EPA’s new Clean Diesel Combustion engine technology for use in passenger vehicles. (GCC)

  • The Jaguar X-Type Diesel sedans reached Euro 4 compliance a year early through Ford’s tweaking the combustion management of the engine. (GCC)
  • Just over the past few weeks, Ford has accelerated its production of hybrid models, made some very significant diesel announcements, introduced a full hybrid diesel-electric prototype, begun touting biofuel use in its diesels and announced customers for its hydrogen combustion engine shuttle vans.

    In his talk to investors and analysts, Bill Ford stressed that one of his company’s historic strengths has been the mass commercialization of advanced technology. If the company is able to follow through on that commitment with these clean technologies, Ford could be well positioned as the consumer market shifts—as eventually it must. Just a question of timing...or, in the framework of the ICCT report, of being able to make enough of a difference before hitting the threshold point.

    In other news of the week, governments in Asia are giving CNG and LPG more of a role in public transit. (Beijing, CNG. Calcutta, LPG.) Fiat is going back to Iran after a 50-year absence to build dual fuel (gasoline/CNG) cars. (GCC)

    And on the biofuels front, a report from the US Department of Agriculture estimates that Biomass-to-Liquid diesel fuel could soon meet 13% of Germany’s diesel needs. (GCC) BTL creates a synthesis gas from biomass waste and uses a Fischer-Tropsch process to convert that to a range of products, including clean diesel fuel.

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