Monthly Archives: August 2007

New Report on Cars and Carbon

The author of today’s post, John DeCicco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for Automobile Strategies at Environmental Defense.

How much carbon dioxide (CO2) are cars emitting, and is it getting better or worse? The answer is in our new report on Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens. It’s the third in a series we began in 2002, and covers 1990-2005. Some findings of note:

  • Toyota and BMW have shown that it’s possible to cut the CO2 emissions rate while enjoying strong sales growth – a lesson to the other 10 automakers we examined, whose emissions rates all increased in 2005 compared to 1990. Automakers can significantly reduce carbon emissions through creative design and incremental enhancement of conventional technologies.
  • The average CO2 emissions rate from new vehicles fell 3 percent from 2004 to 2005 – the first drop in nearly two decades. We probably can thank high gas prices for this since it made new car buyers think about fuel efficiency. Gas-guzzling truck-based SUVs became less appealing, and this accelerated the shift to car-based SUVs with better fuel efficiency.

But we still have a long way to go. Despite the one year drop, the emissions rate remains 4 percent higher than it was in 1988.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 6 Responses

Vienna Climate Change Talks

The author of today’s post, Kyle Meng, is a Research Fellow at Environmental Defense.

You probably haven’t heard much about it in the news, but the fourth meeting of the U.N. working group on action to address climate change is happening this week in Vienna, Austria. Negotiators are preparing for the next major international climate agreement – what happens when the Kyoto accord’s carbon market runs out at midnight, December 31, 2012. The goal is to strengthen the carbon market framework so it does an even better job of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The question is how best to achieve this.

The Environmental Defense International Climate Team is busy communicating with delegates from various countries to encourage broad participation. Major emitting nations must be part of the accord if we are to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change.

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Posted in International / Read 3 Responses

Posted: No Idling!

The author of today’s post, Sheryl Canter, is an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.

Forward-looking New Jersey has done it again with its "Stop the Soot" initiative – an outreach program to educate people about the impact of idling car and truck engines. Idling spews pollutants into the atmosphere and burns a surprising amount of fuel. As noted on our driving tips page, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas and creates more global warming pollution than simply restarting your engine.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution / Read 6 Responses

How Not to Manage Risk

Today’s post is by Jon Anda. He is President of the Environmental Markets Network, an organization within Environmental Defense focused on legislation to create an efficient carbon market.

Bjorn Lomborg, who wrote the infamous “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” has a book coming out this fall called “Cool It.” He says we should spend minimal resources to fight global warming.

I wrote a guest post for Grist yesterday about why his approach is wrong. Here’s a key point from it:

Lomborg’s preference is to leave future generations more cash and less technology. Our grandchildren can easily go back to burning coal if climate turns out to be manageable. But how easily can they spend the extra cash if the Greenland ice sheet is irreversibly melting?

And here’s the whole post.

Posted in Economics / Read 3 Responses

Increased CO2 and Food Quality

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on Food and Farming.

1. Increased CO2 and Food Quality
2. Farm Animals and Methane
3. “Food Mile” Complexities

The author of today’s post, Lisa Moore, Ph.D., is a scientist in the Climate and Air program.

When people talk about the harmful effects of fossil fuels, they usually focus on global warming. But as I explained in my post about nitrogen pollution, and Bill discussed in his post about ocean acidification, fossil fuel use has other unintended consequences.

Here is yet another example: increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) can affect the food chain. There’s a lot to be concerned about, but today I’ll focus on livestock.

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Posted in News / Read 3 Responses

How Much Heat Can We Stand?

Today’s post is by John Balbus, M.D., the Chief Health Scientist at Environmental Defense.

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” That saying may work for part-time chefs, but it doesn’t do much for the victims of recent heat waves. They couldn’t escape the unusually severe temperatures.

A warmer world is likely to bring two different types of heat: warmer average temperatures, especially at night, and more frequent extremes. What do higher temperatures mean for us? Read More »

Posted in Health / Read 6 Responses