Norway Is Aiming for All of Its Short Flights to be Electric by 2040

Greener Planes

Every time an airplane rises into the sky, something else also rises: the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Air travel is responsible for an estimated 2 to 3 percent of global carbon emissions, a number expected to double in the next decade as fuel efficiency struggles to keep up with rising demand. The contribution is so huge that experts suggest the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to quit traveling altogether.

But Norway may have another solution. Dag Falk-Petersen, the chief executive of Norway’s airport operator, Avinor, recently announced an ambitious new goal to run all of the country’s short-haul flights on electric planes by 2040.

Norway currently has more electric cars than any other country in the world. The country is a clear leader in the global revolution to push away from fossil fuels. With this latest aim, they set themselves apart in hopes of proving that it is possible to also reduce emissions from air travel.

If Norway is able to successfully electrify all of its short-haul flights, it will be the first country to do so.

“We think that all flights lasting up to 1.5 hours can be flown by aircraft that are entirely electric,” Falk-Petersen told The Guardian.  “When we will have reached our goal, air travel will no longer be a problem for the climate, it will be a solution.”

Changing Energy

According to The Guardian, air transport currently makes up 2.4% of Norway’s domestic traffic emissions. Airplanes that run off jet fuel produce a little over 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.

Current battery technology doesn’t yet have the range to replace jet fuel entirely; batteries simply don’t have the same energy density, and electric planes will need to be recharged far sooner than a traditional airliner would need to be refueled. For this reason, several airlines are instead developing hybrid models for longer flights. 

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Yet NASA scientist Sean Clarke told Ars Technica that improvements in battery technology and efficiency measures will go a long way towards increasing electric planes’ range.

“Electric propulsion systems may be relevant in the marketplace sooner than you might expect, because they can be much more efficient,” Clarke said.

In the mean time, Avinor plans to use hybrid technologies and biofuels to help Norway transition their short flights to zero-carbon. Besides curbing emissions, Norway’s effort will also cut noise levels and operating costs in half.

Norway has already proven itself a leader in making green transport more widely adapted. Perhaps as technologies improve, other nations will follow suit, creating an even larger impact.

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By 2040, Hundreds of Millions May Be Affected By River Floods Across the World

Rivers on Steroids

Alongside rising temperatures and drier soils, a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) finds that increased rainfall and severe flooding are also expected to impact millions of people over the next 25 years.

The study, published in Science Advances, details how river floods will become more common as a result of the amount of greenhouse gases that has already been introduced into the atmosphere. This means that future limitations placed on carbon emissions will not ease the looming threat.

Several studies find that keeping global temperature change within 1.5°C  (2.7° F) compared to pre-industrial levels would reduce some of the worst impacts of climate change. However, this is extremely challenging from a political and technical point of view, so the PIK’s team recommends preparing for the worst and ramping up measures to adapt to the increased risks.

They urge regions around the world to improve their existing flood protections, including in “more than half of the United States,” as well as parts of India and Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America, and Central Europe. All will need to increase their protections, which includes building more dikes and levees, and putting measures in place to relocate communities that cannot be protected.

Necessary Preparations

The number of people at risk will grow significantly. In the U.S. and Canada, the population affected by floods could increase from 100,000 people to 1 million. In South America, the number could rise from 6 to 12 million; in Africa from 25 to 34 million, and in Asia from 70 to 156 million.

Recent estimates have shown that 2017 has been a record year in terms of disaster-related costs, making a clear case for the improvement of the existing infrastructure all over the world.

In the wake of an unprecedented series of extreme weather events, leaders are starting to take climate change seriously. New York City is suing oil companies in the hope of raising billions of dollars to improve the city’s infrastructure and protect it against sea level rise and hurricanes. China, a country that is intimately familiar with the dangers of flooding, is building “sponge cities” that will absorb and re-use floodwater and rainwater.

Architects have also designed hurricane-proof homes and a flood-proof parking garage that rises when it rains. Expensive as they may be, they would be invaluable in case of flooding.

“If we act now, we can protect against the risks of the next two decades,” said Anders Levermann, co-author of the study and head of global adaptation research at PIK, in a press release. But further climate change must be limited by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels to avoid risks that surpass our abilities to adapt.”

Levermann continued, saying: “The findings should be a warning to decision-makers. “If they choose to ignore the issue, sadly enough disaster will come. The time has come where mitigating future climate change must be accompanied by adapting to the climate change that we already caused. Doing nothing will be dangerous.”

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California Is Officially Planning to Ban Polluting Cars by 2040

Pollution phase-out

Efforts to free California from polluting vehicles once and for all are finally taking shape, as a bill that would ban fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040 has been officially put on the table by California Assemblymember Phil Ting.

Ting has delivered on the idea he had introduced last month, and now the bill is up for approval.

While the state is already on track to meet its renewable energy goals a staggering 10 years ahead of schedule, this bill, called the Clean Cars 2040 Act, could drastically cut emissions and make California a real pioneer in the fight against climate change.

Now, this bill wouldn’t pull all polluting vehicles from the road,  but it would prohibit the sale of any new car or truck running on fossil fuels. All new passenger vehicles sold in California would have to be “zero-emissions vehicles” like battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars. Speaking about the importance of the new bill, Ting said: “we’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change.”

A Zero-Emissions Future

As many work to reduce emissions, especially in the state of California, some might suggest that setting such a rigid timeline is drastic or unnecessary. But Ting explained observed that “until you set a deadline, nothing gets done.”

While emissions come from a variety of sources other than cars, in his speech Ting reminded that “vehicles [that] run on fossil fuels are responsible for nearly 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Not only the new measure could deliver important environmental benefits, but it also makes business sense. The fact sheet accompanying the bill makes a case for staying ahead of the green trend: “Great Britain, France, China, India, and other countries are phasing out gas and diesel-powered vehicles, and requiring new vehicles to be zero emissions,” the document states.

It notes that the four countries account for over 35 million new vehicle sales per year, and the global automobile industry will have to meet the new needs with a full range of zero emission vehicle options. “By aligning its 2040 requirement with these and other countries,” the note adds, “California can keep pace with the world and take advantage of this coming market shift.”

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California Is Working to Ban Gas-Powered Cars by 2040

Cleaner Cars

California is typically a little ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting renewable resources and progressive environmental plans. In fact, the state is currently on track to meet its renewable energy goals 10 years early. Its latest effort toward building a sustainable future is a new bill that would ban gas-powered cars by 2040.

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Introducing this bill is Democratic California Assembly member Phil Ting, who represents much of San Fransisco and is also chairman of the chamber’s budget committee.

If Ting’s bill became law, starting in 2040, California’s motor vehicle department would only register vehicles that didn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions. Based on currently available technology, that would mean only battery-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell cars would be permissible.

Ting plans to officially introduce the bill to ban gas-powered cars in January when lawmakers return for the next legislative session.

Political Movement

While the bill might seem ambitious to some, France, the U.K., Germany, and others have all taken similar steps in an effort to reduce emissions. Others may think 2040 is too far away as we are already facing the growing repercussions of climate change, but enacting major changes takes time. By setting a long-term goal right now, California can beginning moving in the right direction.

“Until you set a deadline, nothing gets done,” Ting told Bloomberg. “It’s responsible for us to set a deadline 23 years in advance.”

The California Air Resources Board, the state’s air quality regulator, has previously floated the idea of banning internal-combustion engines. Governor Jerry Brown has also expressed interest in the move.

If the bill goes over well, it could be a major win for not just the state of California, but the entire U.S. where the transportation sector is currently the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. If one state shows that cutting these emissions through a ban on gas-powered cars is doable, others may follow suit.

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These Are All the Nations Banning Gas-Powered Cars by 2040

The US lags behind other countries when it comes to putting policies in place that will encourage electric vehicle adoption.

Some states, like California, are doing their part to set up an infrastructure to support battery-powered vehicles and get gas-powered cars off the road. But the US has yet to pass comprehensive policies aimed at lowering transportation-related fuel emissions.

We rounded up the countries that are taking initiative — scroll down for a closer look:

Norway will only sell electric and hybrid vehicles starting in 2030.

Norway is the most progressive country when it comes to electrification. Electric and hybrid cars accounted for 28% of Norway’s market share in 2016, according to a 2017 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Netherlands said it will only sell electrified vehicles starting in 2025.

The Netherlands have also pushed electric vehicle adoption. Electric and hybrid cars accounted for 6% of the Netherlands market share in 2016, according to the IEA report.

India has ambitious goals for electrification, saying it will only sell electric and hybrid vehicles starting in 2030.

India has yet to build out an infrastructure to support battery-powered vehicles, which is why they only account for a tiny (less than 1%) market share.

Image credit: joiseyshowaa/Flickr

China has said it will eventually only sell electric and hybrid vehicles, but has yet to set a concrete timeline.

China is the largest producer of plug-in electric cars in the world. In fact, the country accounted for more than 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide in 2016.

Electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for 1.4% of China’s market share in 2016, according to the IEA report.

The United Kingdom said it will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars starting in 2040.

Oxford will be the first city in the UK to start phasing out sales of petrol and diesel cars in 2020. Scotland plans to phase out the cars in 2032.

Electric vehicles accounted for 1.4% of the UK’s vehicle market share in 2016, according to the report.

France has said it will ban the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Paris plans to begin phasing out the vehicles starting in 2030. Electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for 1.4% of France’s personal vehicle market share in 2016, according to the IEA.

Cities like Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Vancouver all plan to ban gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2030.

Although some countries haven’t released comprehensive bans of the vehicles, some mayors are taking initiative to ban gas- and diesel-powered cars from their city centers. Some cities, including a few in the United States, have jumped on board with that promise.

Copenhagen, the most bike-friendly city in the world, is working on an aggressive timeline. It plans to ban all diesel-powered cars starting in 2019.

The mayors of Los Angeles, Mexico City, Seattle, Barcelona, Vancouver, Milan, Quito, Cape Town, and Auckland pledged on Monday to ban gas- and diesel-powered cars from “large parts” of their cities by 2030.

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