Electric Vehicles

VW Settlement in Action: How Cities, States, and Businesses Can Get Involved

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1 p.m. EDTRegister Here

C2ES Webinar:

VW Settlement in Action:
How Cities, States, and Businesses Can Get Involved

 

October 26, 2017, 1 p.m. EDT

 

Register Here

 

Please join the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) for a webinar on upcoming deadlines and funding opportunities under the Mitigation Trust established under the $14.7 billion Volkswagen Settlement, which became effective Oct. 2. The webinar will also discuss experiences in planning electric vehicle charging strategies and related investments..

 

Speakers

Cassie Powers
Senior Program Director, National Association of State Energy Officials

Kirk Brown
Director for Strategic Partnerships, Plug In America
(Invited)

Tyler Svitak
Energy and Transportation Administrator, City and County of Denver

Moderator
Dan Welch
Solutions Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

 

Best in Class: Back to school on an electric bus

          Photo credit: Fastcompany.net

As kids across the country hop on buses and head back to school, what else are they taking in besides an education? The answer may be pollutants.

School buses, typically powered by diesel engines, can emit dangerous levels of pollutants. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of these emissions. A 2001 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that children in the back of diesel-powered school buses could be exposed to toxic pollutants at four times the rate of people in the cars behind those buses, and that riding in school buses powered by diesel could pose 46 times the rate of “significant” risk for cancer. A more recent 2015 study for the California Air Resources Board found that air pollution in diesel-powered school buses continues to put children in danger. The negative effects range from heightened absenteeism to persistent heart and lung conditions, such as emphysema and asthma.

Efforts to improve the tailpipe emissions of school buses could have wide-reaching effects. More than half of all U.S. students, or greater than 25 million children, ride in school buses. A 2015 study by the University of Michigan found that reductions in diesel tailpipe emissions had widely positive effects on children, from improved lung functions to reduced absenteeism.

One straightforward method of eradicating tailpipe emissions would be for school districts to adopt all-electric buses.

All-electric buses that plug in to the electric grid virtually eliminate children’s exposure on school bus trips to dangerous pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. The buses also safeguard children’s futures by reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change. A switch to electric buses provides a double win of protecting our kids’ health and their environment.

Electric school buses have recently become available in the North American market. Only a few companies manufacture purpose-built electric school buses, but some school districts in the United States and Canada have committed to deploying them. Quebec company Lion manufactures electric school buses, and U.S. bus maker Blue Bird plans to produce electric school buses by the end of 2018 that will be able to put power back onto the grid or into a building. The capacity to operate buses with two-way power would improve the financial outlook of purchasing electric buses, which are more expensive to purchase but are less expensive to fuel and operate.

U.S. interest in electric buses is growing, although mostly for use in public transit systems (Los Angeles, for example, plans to switch its entire transit bus system to electricity by 2030). Recently, city planners have expressed the need to expand the benefits of zero-emission electric buses, such as better air quality and helping develop neighborhoods, to low-income residents and vulnerable populations. Falling battery prices and the introduction of new electric bus manufacturers to the school bus market will help extend these trends to school districts. Children, among the most vulnerable of groups, may soon be enjoying the quiet, pollution-free benefits of electric transportation.

Nations, companies driving toward cleaner cars

The British government’s recently announced plan to ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 shows the growing momentum globally toward a cleaner transportation system.

The ban is central to the British climate goal of zero emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. At the moment, the ban does not appear to be wishful thinking—a minister from the Department for Transport confirmed that Theresa May’s new government intends to honor its climate goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The United Kingdom joins other developed and developing nations that are taking action toward cleaner cars:

  • France made a similar announcement last week, identifying climate goals and improvements in air quality as reasons to ban gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles by 2040.
  • Both the Dutch and the Norwegian governments have discussed plans to implement similar bans by 2025, though legislators have not yet acted.
  • Parts of the German government have been advocating for a gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicle prohibition. The Merkel administration has a goal of putting one million electric vehicles (EVs) on its roads by 2020 (though the target will likely not be met).
  • India’s government plans to switch entirely to electrified vehicles by 2030.
  • In 2018, the Chinese government is expected to implement a program based on California’s ZEV program that would require at least 8 percent of an automaker’s total auto sales in China be EVs.

Automakers are also steering toward clean transportation. In July, Volvo became the first major automaker to announce a switch entirely from traditionally fueled vehicles. It will only produce cars that include an electric motor (either EVs or hybrids) beginning in 2019.

Other companies are continuing to innovate in the EV space:

Though not an automaker, Royal Dutch Shell is planning to partially pivot to hydrogen and biofuel production in response to anticipated reductions in oil demand within the next two decades. CEO Ben Van Beurden said he plans to buy an EV next year, citing concerns for the environment.

In the United States, cities and states are helping lead the transformation to clean transportation.

A consortium of dozens of cities is looking into buying more than 100,000 EVs of all types. Seattle’s transit agency plans to have the largest fleet of zero-emission buses.

States from Oregon to Texas to Connecticut offer incentives for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles. And 10 states follow California’s ZEV program that requires a growing number of zero-emission vehicles as a percentage of total auto sales.

U.S. electric utilities are also innovating, with 44 companies offering some incentive for customers to adopt EVs.

Making a U-turn in the drive toward clean innovation, at least for now, is the U.S. federal government. Federal greenhouse gas emissions targets through 2025 for vehicles, which were finalized under the Obama Administration, have been reopened for review through 2018 despite the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finding that the standards are affordable and achievable. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently suggested that federal fuel economy standards through 2025 could be frozen at 2021 levels, pausing required improvements in the national fleet’s fuel economy.

More and more estimates show that global EV demand will rise considerably in the coming decades. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Energy Information Administration both increased their most recent adoption outlooks, with BNEF predicting that one third of new vehicles worldwide will be electrified by 2040. OPEC’s 2017 prediction for global EV sales by 2020 increased 500 percent over the 2016 prediction.

Nations, states, cities, and companies are leading the way toward a clean transportation future because it makes environmental and economic sense. The U.S. government should be doing all it can to foster this innovation, not curtail it.

 

Putting the Genie Back: Solving the Climate and Energy Dilemma

by David Hone, Chief Climate Change Strategist, Shell International, and C2ES board member – published by Emerald Publishing, June 2017

Putting the Genie Back: Solving the Climate and Energy Dilemma

Shell Chief Climate Change Strategist and C2ES board member David Hone tells the story of the climate change issue and the transition in the energy system that must be implemented to finally address it.

The book brings together and builds on Hone’s blogs and e-book series, covering many of the pertinent issues of climate change today, including carbon trading and the Paris Agreement.

Stepping away from the emotional aspect of climate change, Hone addresses the topic from an engineering perspective. He argues for a transition in our fossil fuel-based energy system, which ushered in the Industrial Revolution nearly 200 years ago and continues to grow and evolve, even as new sources of energy come into the market and compete.

Action on VW settlement heating up as summer approaches

Summer is around the corner, bringing barbeques, warm weather, and road trips. U.S. residents may benefit from Volkswagen (VW) funding for those last two items (and Nissan bravely experimented with the barbeque): reducing air pollutants that cause harmful health effects in warm weather through a Mitigation Trust, and extending electric vehicles’ (EVs) driving range through a series of charging infrastructure investments. Both programs are set to take effect shortly, and cities and businesses may benefit from early action.

As a quick reminder, VW is putting $4.7 billion in two separate funds for mitigating nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and investing in zero-emission vehicles as part of a settlement for installing devices designed to bypass U.S. auto emissions tests. (The two funds are shown below and described in greater detail in this blog post.)

Mitigation Trust to Reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

The Mitigation Trust will allocate funding to each state to spend on reducing the NOx emissions that were created by the altered VW vehicles. The funding will be disbursed within the state by one lead agency that must be approved by an appointed trustee. The trustee, investment firm Wilmington Trust, was selected in March. Once all parties confirm Wilmington Trust, which could happen any day, the Trust Effective Date will be established. The Trust Effective Date is essentially the “starter’s pistol” that will set the process of distributing Mitigation Trust funds to states in motion. The general timeline for applying for and receiving funds is shown below, though several deadlines are flexible and may proceed more quickly than the maximum amount of time allocated.

 

Cities and businesses should contact and work actively with the lead agencies in their states to identify and promote opportunities to replace older diesel engines and vehicles. Several states have already identified their lead agencies or principal contacts and are beginning to design plans for how the available funding will be spent. Though funding can be spent over 15 years, as much as two-thirds can be spent within the first two years. Therefore, it is in the best interest of cities or businesses to engage with state agencies early.

ZEV Investment to Expand public EV charging

VW’s initial ZEV Investment is also ready to be put into action through a $200 million California Investment Plan and a $300 million National Investment Plan that covers all other states. VW submitted separate investment plans that cover the next 30 months earlier this year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The EPA approved the National Investment Plan, which allocates $40 million to lower-powered community charging in 11 major cities and $190 million to higher-powered fast charging along selected highways across the nation. Community charging will be focused in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Portland (OR), Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, Miami, and Raleigh. Estimated highway charging installations are displayed in Table 3 of the National Investment Plan (page 22).

Though the cities and corridors have been chosen, the sites and vendors have not. The process of selecting sites and vendors for the bulk of charging stations is scheduled for the second and third quarters of 2017. Cities identified for investments in community charging or nearby corridor charging can work with VW’s subsidiary, Electrify America, to identify optimal locations that may promote retail growth or adoption by low-income communities in multi-unit dwellings by hosting charging stations. Businesses may also benefit from increased traffic to use public charging stations (as C2ES has covered in a report on EV charging station business models) or from the opportunity to work with Electrify America to install charging stations.

CARB has not yet approved the California Investment Plan out of concerns for social equity and EV charging market competitiveness, sending a letter to Electrify America requesting that a supplemental plan reflect greater investments in low-income communities. Once CARB approves a plan, California cities and businesses should also consider opportunities to work with Electrify America to optimally site charging stations during the first 30-month round of investments. During the next round of investments, slated to begin in late 2019, proposals to Electrify America may be more successful if they incorporate CARB’s concerns and demonstrate air-quality benefits to low-income communities or a need to fill regional EV charging gaps.

With action on both VW settlements’ funding programs taking shape, cities and businesses should be prepared to identify opportunities to reduce NOx emissions and promote EV adoption .

 

Bob Perciasepe's statement on fuel economy standards review

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

March 15, 2017

On the administration’s re-evaluation of the fuel economy standards for model years 2022-2025:

Federal fuel economy standards are improving air quality, reducing U.S. reliance on oil imports, and saving drivers money.

Working together, industry and the government crafted a roadmap for fuel economy standards through 2025. Automakers have been meeting the standards, with stronger and lighter materials, hybrid-electric drivetrains, alternative fuels, and other technological innovations. These innovations have occurred at the same time automobile sales in the U.S. have reached record highs and employment is increasing in high technology vehicles. As other nations seek greater fuel efficiency, U.S. automakers should not risk losing their growing competitive global advantage.

Moving to re-evaluate standards for model years 2022-2025 should demonstrate that the technological innovation achieved by the auto industry can continue to advance, providing ample basis for strong standards.

It would be a mistake to use the re-evaluation to remove incentives for advancing innovation. It would also be a mistake to inhibit state and local innovation.

States should continue to lead if they desire to, and we should not harm states’ rights to choose cleaner air and innovative vehicle markets.

The administration should also look to partner with local and state governments to improve transportation systems, helping us reduce the miles we all drive every day. With local action and federal action combined, a more comprehensive approach can continue to reduce emissions, reduce oil imports and save money for every driver.

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About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

EV sales are up, but we still need fuel economy standards

New technologies and industry investments are making electric vehicles (EVs) more affordable and approachable, expanding consumer choice and driving record-breaking U.S. EV sales. However, the continued popularity of pickups and SUVs shows the importance of maintaining federal fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the recent Washington Auto Show, I test drove the Toyota Prius Prime, the second-generation plug-in hybrid Prius model. The Prime features a larger battery range than its predecessor, is surprisingly roomy, and, once unplugged from the charging station, provides a similar driving experience as a gasoline-powered hybrid.

The Prime is the latest example of automakers developing vehicles that can compete both functionally and financially with traditionally-fueled vehicles.

In the all-electric vehicle market, consumers have had to choose between high costs or low battery.

  • Chevy has begun to change the equation with the low-cost, long-range all-electric Bolt, already released in California and Oregon, and slated for a national release within the next year.
  • Tesla, famous for its luxury vehicles, is preparing to manufacture the more affordable Model 3 that retains the company’s longer battery range.
  • Ford, Volkswagen, and many other major automakers are also developing more affordable EV models, both all-electric and plug-in hybrids, that will compete favorably with traditionally-fueled vehicles.
Figure 1: Range and Cost Comparison of All-Electric Vehicle Models


Consumers are responding to these new models and technologies. The reconfigured Prius Prime jumped from a dozen or so vehicles sold per month earlier in 2016 to more than 1,300 vehicles per month in when it was reintroduced in December and this past January, taking second place in the plug-in hybrid market. Of the five best-selling models since December (Chevy Bolt & Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, Tesla Model S & X), only Tesla’s Model S is not new or redesigned within the past 18 months.

2016 was the highest-selling year in the history of the U.S. EV market, with approximately 150,000 vehicles sold. December set a single-month EV sales record at more than 23,000 vehicles.

However, 2016 was also a record year for the U.S. auto market as a whole. Consequently, EV market share rose only slightly, from 0.67 percent in 2015 to 0.84 percent in 2016. (Some estimates can range higher.) In the same timeframe, light trucks (SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks) accounted for more than 60 percent of the U.S. vehicle market, and are expected to remain popular if oil prices stay low. Although EV purchases are increasing, there are at least 70 new light trucks purchased for each new electric vehicle. Plus, Americans are driving more miles than ever.

That’s why it’s important to maintain the federal fuel economy standards, which require automakers to improve the average emissions of the vehicles they sell over the next decade.

The fuel economy standards allow for consumers to choose SUVs and pickups under a separate “footprint,” but require that the greenhouse gas emissions of the larger footprint improve. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have reviewed the standards and found them to be practical, achievable and affordable. With the transportation sector now the heaviest-polluting sector in the nation, these fuel economy standards are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Manufacturers are making great strides to expand the EV consumer base beyond early adopters. Many reputable analysts, such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the International Energy Agency, expect that consumer EV adoption will rise rapidly in the coming decades, helping to deeply decarbonize the sector. In the meantime, federal fuel economy standards can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all vehicle model and fuel types.

Year Ahead: We must strengthen climate action wherever possible

When I wrote a blog a year ago taking stock of the strengthening climate change effort, I reflected on a year of unprecedented progress, capped by the Paris Agreement, and outlined ways we could build on those successes.

At the beginning of the new U.S. administration, the outlook is unfortunately far different.  Now, our challenge is to preserve as much of this progress as we can, and to devise new strategies to continue strengthening climate action wherever possible.

Despite coming setbacks, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we have a solid base to work from. Thanks in part to strong policies, but also to growing market forces, the U.S. is on the path to a clean-energy transition, and the continued momentum is strong.

A few examples, just since the election:

·      Some of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg, launched a billion-dollar fund to invest in cutting-edge clean energy technologies.

The new policy landscape won’t be clear for some time and is likely to evolve. But as we monitor the early signs, and take soundings with policymakers and stakeholders around the country and around the world, we are coming to a clearer view of immediate imperatives, and of opportunities that may lie ahead.

One imperative is ensuring that the United States remains a reliable partner in the global climate effort – by staying in the Paris Agreement, and by working constructively with other countries to establish sound rules for its implementation. 

We were encouraged to hear Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson note the importance of the United States staying at the table. Indeed, the Paris Agreement reflects long-standing bipartisan principles. It fully preserves national sovereignty while providing a means of holding other countries accountable. U.S. businesses benefit from full access to the clean energy markets the agreement helps drive.

We were encouraged also to hear EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt express respect for the “endangerment finding” underpinning the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. What is critical is how EPA chooses to fulfill the inherent legal obligation to regulate emissions, starting with the power sector.

While the Clean Power Plan appears unlikely to survive, decarbonization of the power sector is already underway. Thanks to improved energy efficiency and a more diverse energy mix, emissions dropped more than 20 percent over the last decade. Last year was the third in a row that renewables accounted for more than half of new U.S. power capacity.

Continued tax credits enjoying strong bipartisan support will help sustain that growth.  State-level conversations on lower carbon energy policies are continuing as states, cities and utilities find economic opportunity in modernizing the power sector. But the imperative remains: We need an overarching federal framework to deliver sustained, cost-effective emission reductions. We urge the new administration and Congress to get on with the job.

In the near term, we see opportunities for bipartisan steps that benefit both the climate and the economy and strengthen the foundation for a longer-term clean energy transition. These include:

Incentivizing carbon capture, use and storage.

Carbon capture technologies like those deployed this month in Texas are essential to meeting the climate challenge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the bipartisan sponsors of a bill last year to help advance these technologies by supporting the use of captured CO2 in enhanced oil recovery, as recommended by a coalition of industry, labor, and environmental groups we help lead. We expect similar legislation in this Congress.

Advancing nuclear energy.

Bipartisan bills have already been introduced in the House and Senate to spur advanced nuclear technologies. Nuclear is our largest source of zero-carbon energy and the only one that provides continuous baseload power. It will have to play a significant role in any realistic long-term climate strategy.

Modernizing our infrastructure.

A viable infrastructure package could open significant opportunities to address climate change while creating jobs and growth. Examples include:

  • A modernized electric grid that can better distribute renewable power and is more climate-resilient.
  • Expanded charging and refueling networks for electric, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles.
  • Roads and bridges that can better withstand more frequent extreme weather.

One reason we’re confident of continued momentum is that the vast majority of the American people support it. In a Yale survey conducted after the election, nearly 70 percent favored staying in the Paris Agreement. And 70 percent – including a majority of Republicans – supported strict carbon limits on existing coal plants.

Business leaders, too, recognize the growing risks of climate impacts, and the opportunities to create new products, services and jobs.

And a growing number of cities are finding they can save money and create jobs by encouraging energy efficiency and clean energy and transportation.

At C2ES, while we are bracing for setbacks, and are prepared to defend against reversing course, we also will continue working as hard as ever to bring diverse interests together to make progress wherever we can. We face significant new challenges. But from the local to the global level, we’ve got strong momentum. And we can’t turn back.

 

C2ES again ranks among top environmental think tanks

Press Release
January 26, 2017
Contact Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org

C2ES again ranks among top environmental think tanks

WASHINGTON -- The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is honored to be recognized once again as one of the world’s leading environmental think tanks.

C2ES ranked fourth among environment policy think tanks in the University of Pennsylvania’s 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index, based on a worldwide survey of more than 2,500 scholars, academics, public and private donors, policymakers, and journalists.

C2ES was also recently named the top U.S. energy and environment think tank by Prospect magazine for helping lay the groundwork for the Paris Agreement.

“C2ES’s consistently high ranking is a tribute to our unique ability to bring together diverse stakeholders to achieve practical, commonsense solutions,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “We work with companies, cities, states, and national governments to develop and implement economically sound, innovative policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts.”

“I congratulate and thank our outstanding staffers, supporters, partners, and board members, including Board Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV, who have helped C2ES achieve and maintain our success,” Perciasepe said.

This is the 10th year for the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program to rank the world’s 6,846 leading think tanks. According to the report, the top environmental think tanks “excel in research, analysis and public engagement on a wide range of policy issues with the aim of advancing debate, facilitating cooperation between relevant actors, maintaining public support and funding, and improving the overall quality of life.”

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About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

Volkswagen Settlement Funding: What Cities Should Know

Volkswagen Settlement Funding: What Cities Should Know

December 2016

Download the fact sheet (PDF)

In October 2016, the U.S. government granted final approval of a $14.7 billion settlement against Volkswagen (VW) for equipping more than 500,000 of its diesel vehicles to cheat U.S. vehicle emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. Volkswagen will spend $10 billion on vehicle buybacks and $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology. This latter amount will be split between two investment programs that states, cities, and tribes can use to expand alternative vehicle projects and access to zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Cities can play a key role, starting now, by identifying local emissions-cutting and zero-emission vehicle deployment projects that could benefit from increased investment and proposing ideas to states and Volkswagen about ways these funds can best be leveraged.

Since October 25, 2016, when the $14.7 billion settlement for claims related to emissions testing “defeat devices” installed in 2.0 liter diesel-powered vehicles was finalized, Volkswagen (VW) has resolved additional legal challenges with the U.S. Department of Justice. On December 20, 2016, a settlement for claims related to emissions testing “defeat devices” installed in 3.0 liter diesel-powered vehicles was announced, setting aside $1 billion for vehicle buy-backs and fixes and $250 million dedicated toward nitrogen oxide mitigation and zero emission vehicle investments. On January 11, 2017, VW agreed to plead guilty to criminal felony counts and a pay $2.8 billion criminal penalty.  VW also agreed to settle civil environmental, customs, and financial claims by paying $1.5 billion to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Customs & Border Patrol.

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