Archive for December, 2009

Cop turned into a flop – what’s next?

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

With the Copenhagen climate summit’s failure to achieve a binding agreement to resuce greenhouse gas emissions Gal Luft proposes a new approach – oil first.

“Now that delegates to the U.N. climate summit are back from Copenhagen with no more than a non binding, hollow declaration of intent to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it is clear that the main reason “Cop” turned into a flop is the deep divide between the world’s rich and poor — between those who watch the world on plasma screens and those who are forced to sell their plasma to survive another day.

The platitudes and inspirational speeches on how we must all come together to “save ourselves from ourselves” could not mask an inescapable reality: For poor people, while often being the main casualties of an unstable climate, planetary-scale environmental concerns are a distant second to basic human needs — access to electricity, food, and shelter. They are therefore unwilling to put their economic growth on hold until the world comes up with economically competitive alternatives to coal-fired electricity. In India alone, 150 million people have no access to basic lighting. In the face of such grinding poverty, it’s no wonder that the rich countries’ attempts to thwart the expansion of fossil fuels were perceived by many in the developing world as a new form of imperialism.

This pushback by the developing world begs for a unified, yet politically feasible, agenda that can be embraced by rich and poor countries alike. One area where such an agenda can emerge is oil. Whereas reaching consensus about significant cuts in the use of fossil fuels in power generation seems to be unlikely, focusing on reducing the use of oil, which powers 95 percent of the global transportation sector, is a goal that offers a real chance of global acceptance.”

Here is the full article

China: lots and lots and lots of cars…and e-bikes

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Two factoids from the Washington Post:

  • Domestic sales for cars and sport-utility vehicles in China passed a million a month in November 2009 — on an annual basis that’s 12 million cars, which could be more than the U.S. in this recession year.
  • China is also on track to 20 million new electric bikes sold in 2009, “if trends hold from 2007 and 2008, when 20 million e-bikes were sold each year. E-bikes are proving most popular in Beijing and other big cities, where some commuters are realizing that owning a car may bring a certain prestige as a sign of affluence but also comes with gasoline prices, parking fees, the odd traffic ticket and the notorious traffic jams. [...] Besides the lower costs for parking, and the convenience of whipping quickly through intersections, she said she spends far less on maintenance than she did on a car. E-bikes need their batteries recharged overnight, and the battery typically lasts about a year before needing to be replaced. They are also relatively inexpensive, from about $219 for the smallest models to about $366 for the largest, fastest variety.
    “The real sweet spot will be if China’s e-bike explosion leads to the development of electric cars and the infrastructure for charging these e-vehicles,” said Alex Wang of the Natural Resources Defense Council office in Beijing, and an avid e-biker. “China is probably better positioned to make this leap than any other country in the world.”
  • We agree with Alex Wang’s point — China, with its low cost basic vehicle platforms is very well positioned to take advantage of good enough batteries and move more swiftly to electrification than U.S. auto companies appear to be, a point discussed extensively in Turning Oil into Salt.

    Oil imports: up up and away

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    New Department of Energy estimates project that oil imports will be about 1.4 mbd higher by 2030 than anticipated by last year’s outlook (early release of EIA’s outlook is here.) Of course, an effort to turn oil into salt would make a big difference. Will policymakers take notice?

    Oil imports projection

    Farce as reality: Saudis seek payment for any drop in oil revenues

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    No, we aren’t making this up. The New York Times reports: “Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.”

    The time factor: why liquid fuel choice must not be neglected

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    Click here to watch Anne Korin discuss why liquid fuel choice is critical as we move toward electrification at Cascadia’s “Beyond Oil” conference.

    Turning Oil into Salt at Milken Institute

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    Click here to watch Gal Luft and Anne Korin discuss “Turning Oil into Salt” – how to turn oil from a strategic commodity, as salt once was due to its monopoly over food preservation, into just another commodity, as salt is today – at the Milken Institute.