Tag Archives: emissions

Electrifying auto news: Top car award goes to Chevy Bolt

The Chevy Bolt has been named top car in North America, a milestone for a car General Motors hopes will finally get Americans hooked on electric vehicles.

The Honda Ridgeline grabbed the honor for top truck.

Utility vehicles were honored separately for the first time, with the Pacifica minivan from Fiat Chrysler snagging that award.

The honors were announced at Detroit’s Cobo Center as the North American International Auto Show’s press preview days kicked into high gear.

The Bolt beat out the Genesis G90 and Volvo S90 for the car award.

The electric car from Chevrolet went on sale late last year.

It gets more than 200 miles per battery charge, which is more than the average American drives in a day.

The Bolt also sells for around $30,000 when a federal tax credit is included.

Electric vehicles have failed to catch on with most American consumers, but General Motors hopes the improved range and price help shift opinions.

Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, described the Bolt as a “moon shot.”

“We didn’t have all the answers when we started the program — in terms of how far we were going to get range-wise, how light are we going to get the car and … sell price,” he said. “We hit on all cylinders on this, so to speak, even though there’s not any in the car.”

The Ridgeline scored the truck award over Ford F-Series Super Duty and the Nissan Titan. Pacifica got the nod for the utility award over the Jaguar F-Pace and Mazda X-9.

Timothy Kuniskis, Fiat Chrysler’s car chief, said he’s “amazingly proud” that a minivan scored the utility honor. The award recognizes the automaker’s commitment to the foundation it established for the family hauler while reinventing it some three decades later, he said.

“This is really all-new from the ground up,” Kuniskis said of the Pacifica, a sleeker, swept-back minivan that hit showrooms last spring as a replacement for the Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Among its firsts: hands-free sliding doors that open when the driver sticks a foot under them.

“We love minivans — we sold a quarter-million minivans this last year that just ended,” he added. “Our designers just did an amazing job of taking something that has to be very functional and making it look very beautiful at the same time.”

About 60 automotive journalists serve as judges for North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. Eligible vehicles must be new or substantially changed.

Organizers accept no advertising, though automakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the awards, in their 24th year.

The awards program launched in 1993, and patterned itself after the European Car of the Year. Organizers accept no advertising, though carmakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the honors.

Harley-Davidson pays $15 million in air-pollution settlement

Harley-Davidson Inc. agreed Thursday to pay $15 million to settle a U.S. government complaint over racing tuners that caused its motorcycles to emit higher-than-allowed levels of air pollution.

Harley-Davidson manufactured and sold about 340,000 Screamin’ Eagle Pro Super Tuners since 2008 that allowed users to modify a motorcycle’s emissions control system to increase power and performance, according to court filings by the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

The racing tuners, which the prosecutors said were illegal “defeat devices” that circumvented emissions controls, also increased the amounts of such harmful air pollutants as nitrogen oxide spewing from the bikes’ tailpipes.

The government said Harley-Davidson also made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles of various models between 2006 and 2008 with the illegal tuners pre-installed on them by dealers that were not properly certified as meeting clean air standards. Under the agreement, the company is required to ensure that all of its future motorcycle models sold in the United States are fully certified by EPA to meet air quality standards.

“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s environmental division. “Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”

The Milwaukee-based company said the tuners in question were designed for use on specialized track racing bikes and not intended for use on public roads.

“This settlement is not an admission of liability but instead represents a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently,” said Ed Moreland, Harley-Davidson’s government affairs director. “For more than two decades, we have sold this product under an accepted regulatory approach that permitted the sale of competition-only parts. In our view, it is and was legal to use in race conditions in the U.S.”

Under the agreement, Harley-Davidson said it will no longer sell the racing tuners. The company also will offer to buy back all such tuners in stock at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country and destroy them.

The company said it now will offer a different model for sale designed to comply with state and federal clean air standards.

Harley-Davidson will also pay a $12 million civil penalty and spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution through a project to replace local conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning versions.

EPA officials discovered the violations through a routine inspection and information submitted by the company. The case comes amid increased scrutiny of the use of defeat devices in the wake of last year’s revelations that Volkswagen sold more than 550,000 diesel cars and SUVs that contained illegal software to cheat U.S. emissions tests.

Hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions contribute to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter pollution. Exposure has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s enforcement arm. “Harley-Davidson is taking important steps to buy back the `super tuners’ from their dealers and destroy them, while funding projects to mitigate the pollution they caused.”


Harley-Davidson to pay $12 million fine over emissions

Harley-Davidson will also pay a $12 million civil penalty and spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities, the Justice Department announced on Aug. 18.

Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Harley-Davidson and related companies that requires the companies to stop selling and to buy back and destroy illegal devices that increase air pollution from their motorcycles.

The agreement requires the companies to sell only models of these devices that are certified to meet Clean Air Act emissions standards.

The government’s complaint was filed with the settlement. It alleges that Harley-Davidson manufactured and sold about 340,000 illegal devices, known as “super tuners,” that, once installed, caused motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than what the company certified to EPA.

Aftermarket defeat devices like “super tuners” alter a motor vehicle’s emissions controls and are prohibited under the Clean Air Act for use on vehicles that have been certified to meet EPA emissions standards.

The government said Harley-Davidson also made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification that ensures a vehicle meets federal clean air standards.

“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”

“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” added Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Harley-Davidson is taking important steps to buy back the ‘super tuners’ from their dealers and destroy them, while funding projects to mitigate the pollution they caused.”

Since January 2008, Harley-Davidson has manufactured and sold two types of tuners, which when hooked up to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, allow users to modify certain aspects of a motorcycles’ emissions control system.

These modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx).  These tuners have been sold at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country.

The Clean Air Act requires motor vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their vehicles will meet applicable federal emissions standards to control air pollution and every motor vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity.

The Clean Air Act prohibits manufacturers from making and selling devices that bypass, defeat or render inoperative a motor vehicle’s EPA-certified emissions control system.

The act also prohibits any person from removing or rendering inoperative a motor vehicle’s certified emissions control system and from causing such tampering.

The complaint alleges violations of both those provisions.

The settlement details

Under the settlement, Harley-Davidson will stop selling the illegal aftermarket defeat devices in the United States by Aug. 23.

Harley-Davidson also offer to buy back all such tuners in stock at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country and destroy them.

The settlement requires the company to obtain a certification from the California Air Resources Board for any tuners it sells in the United States in the future.

The CARB certification will demonstrate that the CARB-certified tuners do not cause Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles to exceed the EPA-certified emissions limits.

Harley-Davidson also will conduct tests on motorcycles that have been tuned with the CARB-certified tuners and provide the results to EPA to ensure that its motorcycles remain in compliance with EPA emissions requirements.

In addition, for any super tuners that Harley-Davidson sells outside the United States in the future, it must label them as not for use in the United States.

The announcement of the settlement said the EPA discovered the violations through a routine inspection and information Harley-Davidson submitted after subsequent agency information requests.


On the web

The settlement, a proposed consent decree lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be entered by the court as final judgment.

To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the department’s website: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

Record 155 countries to sign climate agreement

A record 155 countries will sign the landmark agreement to tackle climate change at a ceremony at U.N. headquarters on April 22.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said that five countries — Barbados, Belize, Tuvalu, Maldives and Samoa — will not only sign the agreement reached in Paris in December but deliver their ratification.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President Francois Hollande and French Environment Minister Segolene Royal, who is in charge of global climate negotiations, have invited leaders from all 193 U.N. member states to the event. The U.N. says more than 60 heads of state and government plan to attend.

The current record of 119 signatures on the opening day for signing an international agreement is held by the Law of the Sea treaty in 1994.

The Paris agreement will take effect 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the secretary-general.

The list of countries planning to sign the Paris agreement includes the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming: China, United States, Japan, India, Brazil, Australia and many European Union countries including Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

The agreement sets a collective goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). It requires all countries to submit plans for climate action and to update them every five years, though such plans are not legally binding.

Secretary-General Ban has stressed that the signing ceremony is just a first step in accelerating efforts to tackle climate change.

On the Web

Test your knowledge of the Paris agreement.


Searing heat waves detailed in study of future climate

Sweltering heat waves that typically strike once every 20 years could become yearly events across 60 percent of Earth’s land surface by 2075 if human-produced greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked.

If stringent emissions-reductions measures are put in place, however, these extreme heat events could be reduced significantly. Even so, 18 percent of global land areas would still be subjected yearly to these intense heat waves, defined as three exceptionally hot days in a row.

These are among the findings of a new study by Claudia Tebaldi of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and published in the journal Climatic Change, quantifies the benefits society would reap, in terms of avoiding extreme heat events, if action is taken now to mitigate climate change.

“The study shows that aggressive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will translate into sizable benefits, starting in the middle of the century, for both the number and intensity of extreme heat events,” Tebaldi said. “Even though heat waves are on the rise, we still have time to avoid a large portion of the impacts.”

More frequent, more severe

Tebaldi and Wehner used data generated by the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model to study 20-year extreme heat events—those intense enough to have just a 1-in-20 chance of occurring in any given year. The model was developed with support from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.

The researchers looked at two things: how frequently today’s typical 20-year heat wave may occur in the future, as well as how much more intense future 20-year heat waves will be.

Besides finding that today’s 20-year heat waves could become annual occurrences across more than half of the world’s land areas by 2075, the study also concluded that heat waves with a 1-in-20 chance of occurring during a future year will be much more extreme than heat waves with the same probability of occurring today.

For example, if emissions remain unabated, a heat wave with a 1-in-20 chance of occurring in 2050 would be at least 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter for 60 percent of the world’s land areas. For 10 percent of land areas, a 20-year heat wave in 2050 would be at least 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) hotter.

A few degrees may not seem like much on a mild day, but during extreme heat events, they can mean the difference between life and death for vulnerable populations, Wehner said.

“It’s the extreme weather that impacts human health; this week could be 2 degrees Celsius hotter than last week, and that doesn’t matter,” he said. “Now, imagine the hottest day that you can remember and instead of 42 degrees C (107.6 degrees F) it’s now 45 degrees C (113 degrees F). That’s going to have a dangerous impact on the poor, the old and the very young, who are typically the ones dying in heat waves.”

By 2075, the situation is likely to become much more dire if greenhouse gas emissions—produced largely by the burning of fossil fuels—are not reduced. The percent of land areas subject to 20-year events that are at least 5 degrees C hotter swells from 10 to 54 percent.

However, if emissions are aggressively cut, the severity of these 20-year events could be significantly reduced over the majority of the world’s land areas, though portions of the Earth would still face dangerous heat extremes. For example, in 2075, almost a quarter—instead of more than a half—of land areas could experience 20-year heat waves that are at least 5 degrees C hotter than today’s. “But even with such dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, future heat waves will be far more dangerous than they are now,” Wehner said.

The researchers also looked at single-day extreme heat events, as well as single-day and three-day blocks when the overnight low temperature remained exceptionally warm. Past research has shown that human health is especially endangered when temperatures do not cool off significantly at night. All of these events had similar increases in frequency and intensity.

A tool for cost-benefit analysis 

The fact that extreme heat events are expected to increase in the future as the climate changes—and the fact that emission reductions could ameliorate that increase—is not a surprise, Tebaldi said. But this study is important because it puts hard numbers to the problem.

“There is a cost attached to reducing emissions,” Tebaldi said. “Decision makers are interested in being able to quantify the expected benefits of reductions so they can do a cost-benefit analysis.”

Tebaldi and Wehner’s paper is part of a larger project based at NCAR called the Benefits of Reduced Anthropogenic Climate Change, or BRACE. For the project, researchers from across NCAR and partner organizations are working to quantify how emission reductions may affect health, agriculture, hurricanes, sea level rise, and drought.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. 

Wisconsinites can save $55 million with Clean Power Plan

A new report from the environmental group Clean Wisconsin shows the state can comply with the Clean Power Plan while reducing ratepayer energy bills by $55 million statewide.

“Our analysis shows that by doubling energy efficiency and renewable energy alone, Wisconsin can achieve the carbon pollution reductions needed under the Clean Power Plan while lowering energy bills in the state,” says Tyson Cook, director of science and research at Clean Wisconsin. “We analyzed three different pathways the state could follow to comply with the Clean Power Plan and found that two out of the three would result in overall lower bills for homeowners and business owners in Wisconsin.”

The report, Clean Power Plan in Wisconsin, is the first to take an in-depth look at how Wisconsin could comply with the Clean Power Plan and what impacts it may have. It also explains how the Environmental Protection Agency set the carbon reduction targets in the Clean Power Plan, many of the options Wisconsin has to choose from for compliance, and what steps Wisconsin needs to take to comply with the new law.  

“Under the Clean Power Plan, our state is tasked with reducing its carbon emissions by 34% by 2030, a goal that is reasonable and easily achievable,” says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources is the agency designated to draft Wisconsin’s compliance plan and must make an initial filing with EPA by September 2016. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, with the support of Gov. Scott Walker, has joined a lawsuit initiated by coal companies to challenge the Clean Power Plan in court.

“Whether they are challenging the Clean Power Plan in court or not, most states are preparing state implementation plans, and many have been holding stakeholder meetings already, a requirement of the Clean Power Plan,” says Reopelle. “The longer Wisconsin waits to bring stakeholders together and develop the state’s implementation plan, the harder it will be to comply with that law in a way that keeps costs low.” 

Scientists: Draft climate pact puts temperature limit out of reach

A deal to slow climate change being thrashed out in Paris fails to map out steep enough cuts in carbon dioxide emissions to limit global warming to the target of at least “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), scientists said on Dec. 11.

Negotiations on the draft agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions were extended by a day to Dec. 12 to try to overcome stubborn divisions among the 195 countries taking part.

The draft text, released on Dec. 10 and subject to revision, also proposes that emissions peak “as soon as possible,” with rapid cuts thereafter towards achieving “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality in the second half of the century.”

Neutrality refers to all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, and means net zero man-made emissions from all sectors.

Overall emissions would need to be reduced to as close to zero as possible and any remaining would have to be soaked up by forests and soils or buried underground by costly technology such as carbon capture and storage.

Scientists said the targets in the draft were too lax to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rises above pre-industrial times to “well below 2C,” while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C (2.7F).

The rise in average global temperatures above pre-industrial times will exceed 1C this year, Britain’s Met Office has said.


More than 100 developing nations favor the 1.5C goal, saying higher temperature rises will bring more floods, droughts, decertification and sea level rise that could swamp low-lying islands from the Pacific to the Caribbean

“This is wishful thinking. You might call it pie in the sky,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters.

He said emissions neutrality would have to be reached by 2050 to achieve the 1.5C goal, yet the text was too vague by talking about the second half of the century — up to 2099.

To meet a 2C limit, global emissions would have to peak by 2020 with net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2070, according to the U.N. panel of climate scientists.

Current national emissions cut plans put the planet on a far higher path, unless the world could abruptly shift to “negative emissions,” such as soaking up greenhouse gases from nature after 2030 with new technologies, Schellnhuber said.

So far, more than 180 nations have put forward plans to cut emissions but they put the world on a path to warming anywhere from 2.7C to 3.7C, according to scientific studies.

Scientists also said the language was weaker than in previous drafts.

“(This) has been replaced by rather vague formulations,” said Stefen Kalbekken, from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

Meeting a 1.5C limit would require higher energy prices to spur investment in cleaner energy sources, bioenergy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which captures carbon dioxide and stores it underground.

“It will need the development of a capacity for disposing of CO2 on a reasonably large scale, either captured from the air or from emissions from fossil fuels that countries or companies simply cannot bring themselves to leave in the ground,” said Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford.

CCS technology is still small scale and very costly.

There are currently 15 projects in operation worldwide. The International Energy Agency has said that by 2040, four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions must be captured to keep global warming at bay, which is 100 times more than the total CCS projects expected to be online in the next 18 months.

Pope predicts catastrophe if greedy climate-change deniers derail Paris talks

Pope Francis warned Nov. 26 that it would be “catastrophic” for world leaders to let special interest groups get in the way of a global agreement to curb fossil fuel emissions as he brought his environmental message to the heart of Africa on the eve of crucial climate change talks in Paris.

Francis issued the pointed warning in a speech to the U.N.’s regional office here after celebrating his first public Mass on the continent. The joyous, rain-soaked ceremony before 300,000 faithful saw the Argentine pope being serenaded by ululating Swahili singers, swaying nuns, Maasai tribesmen and dancing children dressed in the colors of Kenya’s flag.

Francis has made ecological concerns a hallmark of his nearly 3-year-old papacy, issuing a landmark encyclical earlier this year that paired the need to care for the environment with the need to care for humanity’s most vulnerable. Francis argues the two are interconnected since the poor often suffer the most from the effects of global warming, and are largely excluded from today’s fossil-fuel based global economy that is heating up the planet.

On Nov. 26, Francis repeated that message but took particular aim at those who reject the science behind global warming. In the United States, that includes some Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers, who have opposed steps President Barack Obama has taken on his own to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“It would be sad, and dare I say even catastrophic, were special interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and interests,” Francis said.

He didn’t elaborate, but in the United States at least, there has been a well-funded campaign that rejects the findings of 97 percent of climate scientists that global warming is likely man-made and insists that any heating of the Earth is natural. Politicians have cited these claims in their arguments that emissions cuts will hurt the economy.

Francis’ message was praised by NASA historian Erik Conway, who co-wrote the 2010 book “Merchants of Doubt,” which detailed the attempts by far-right institutions and like-minded scientists to discredit the science behind global warming and spread confusion in the public.

Conway said it was difficult to determine today how much money is still being directed into climate change denial since much if it goes through foundations.

“But what that funding has achieved is the nearly complete conversion of Republican Party leadership into denial of human-caused climate change as well as public confusion over the content of the science,” he said in an email.

Francis, who has said global warming is “mainly” man-made, said the world was faced with a stark choice in Paris: either improve or destroy the environment. He said he hoped the Paris talks would approve a “transformational” agreement to fight poverty and protect the environment by developing a new energy system that depends on minimal fossil fuel use.

“Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of people for whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption,” he said. “We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this. We have no right.”

His speech followed a similarly emphatic one before the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, and in various speeches on his travels to South America and Asia.

Nov. 26 was the second day in a row that Francis had touched on environmental concerns after he arrived in Kenya for a six-day pilgrimage that also takes him to Uganda on Friday and the conflict-ridden Central African Republic.

Francis’ first full day in Africa began with a meeting with about 25 Kenyan Christian and Muslim leaders. He warned them that they had little choice but to engage in dialogue to guard against the “barbarous” Islamic extremist attacks that have struck the country.

“Dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential,” he said.

He later celebrated Mass before about 300,000 people at the University of Nairobi, where he received a raucous welcome from the crowd as he zoomed around in his open-sided popemobile, some 10,000 police providing security. Some people had been at the university since 3 a.m., braving heavy showers that turned the grounds into enormous, slick mud puddles. Others waited in queues 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) deep to get close to the venue.

“I am a Catholic and I believe he is godsend,” said Nelly Ndunge, 29, as she waited to see Francis at the Mass. She said Francis’ visit to Kenya was a blessing because it would renew her faith — and had boosted her printing business: She said she had already sold nearly 3,000 copies of a 2016 calendar with the pope’s portrait on it.

Still others turned back, fearing a stampede given the disorganized security.

“We were all disappointed,” said Sarah Ondiso, a senior government official. “The organizers could have done better.”

The size of the crowd — estimated by both police and the Vatican — was far smaller than the 1.4 million that Kenyan authorities had expected after declaring Nov. 26 a national holiday. Vatican officials had predicted a maximum of a half-million people, and said the lower number was apparently due to accreditation and ticketing problems.

In his homily, Francis appealed for traditional family values, calling for Kenyans to “resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, don’t care for the elderly and threaten the life of the innocent unborn.”

The African church is among the most conservative in the world, and African bishops have been at the forefront in insisting that traditional church teachings on marriage and sexuality, and its opposition to abortion, be strongly emphasized.

Francis obliged, but also stressed issues of his own concern: He called for Kenyans to shape a more just society that looks out for the poor and to “reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things are not of God.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what he was referring to. But in the crowd, there were Kenyans wearing T-shirts and toting umbrellas reading “Who Am I to Judge” — a reference to Francis’ famous quip when asked about a purportedly gay priest. The citation has often been taken to embody Francis’ insistence that gays must be welcomed in the church and not discriminated against.

Alberta proposes new climate change plan that caps emissions

The Canadian province of Alberta, holder of the world’s third-largest oil reserves, has proposed a new climate change plan to give oil-producing companies room to grow while cutting carbon emissions, experts and stakeholders said.

Long criticized as a source for “dirty oil” because most of the reserves are heavy bitumen deposits found in the province’s oil sands, Alberta’s government created an unlikely partnership between oil industry executives, indigenous leaders and prominent environmentalists to forge the accord.

The proposal comes as world leaders prepare to discuss plans to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at a summit in France starting Nov. 30.

It also came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with provincial and territorial leaders to hammer out Canada’s position at the meeting, to be held at Le Bourget, north of Paris.

“I’m convinced that the oil sands CEOs understand that you can’t be the high cost, high carbon producer in the world anymore,” said Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute.

“It was all a very tight timeline, because obviously, the premier wanted this announcement in the bag… before she goes to Paris,” he added.

The oil sands, natural deposits of tar-like heavy oil, are a key driver of the Canadian economy and put the province’s reserves behind only Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

Environmentalists have criticized the industry’s energy intensive production process, which makes it Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Whittingham said many senior company executives have accepted, in part due to lower global oil prices, that they must reduce their carbon footprint as well as high production and energy costs in order to be more successful. To that end, the plan foresees an end to coal-fired power generation and a carbon price of C$30 ($22.49) per tonne.

The proposal also includes exemptions for upgrading facilities to encourage new investments within Alberta and comes after Premier Rachel Notley’s government, which won an election in May to end 44 years of Conservative rule, was stung with the United States’ rejection of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline. Notley called that decision a “kick in the teeth.”

Paul Boothe, who was the top bureaucrat in Canada’s federal environment department as it developed the country’s emissions standards for coal-fired power plants and its attempt to draft similar oil and gas regulations, said Alberta has taken an important first step with the plan.

He said the proposal helps firms make a transition with what he described as “subsidies” for the best-performing companies.

“Basically, it gives back to (companies), some of the carbon tax that they pay,” said Boothe, now an economics professor at the University of Western Ontario. “The least-emitting firms do the best, and the top-emitting firms don’t do as well… So I think that frankly, the oil and gas industry did very well in this announcement.”

At least six energy companies – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd , Cenovus , Enbridge Inc , Royal Dutch Shell Plc , Suncor Energy and TransCanada Corp – publicly supported the plan.

Two other companies – Imperial Oil Ltd and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd – declined to say whether they supported or opposed the proposal. Husky Energy Inc said it would continue to work constructively with the province.

“What’s critically important here is there’s no cap on production, it’s a cap on emissions,” said Cenovus president Brian Ferguson in a CBC radio interview.

Notley must still unveil full details about how much space each company would get in a proposed 100 million ton annual cap on oil sands carbon emissions – an increase of about 40 percent above current annual emissions – as well as incentives to eliminate pollution from coal-fired power plants by 2030.

“These things don’t pop up overnight,” said Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips at a news conference in Edmonton on Monday. “They are the product of negotiations and I think that what we have been able to achieve here is an historic agreement and a significant path forward to de-escalate conflict over Alberta’s energy resources.”

Green, civil rights groups want ExxonMobil investigated over climate change ‘lies’

The leaders of many of the nation’s largest environmental and civil rights organizations issued a joint letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil.

The groups say the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but decided to mislead the public to maximize profits from fossil fuels.

“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”

Groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop signed the letter, which followed reports by the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News indicating the oil company knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts promoting climate-change denial.

The letter states, “Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change — particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet — and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent — though potentially much greater in scale — than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.”

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders also called on the Justice Department to act.