India is bowing to Tesla, Renault is partnering with Geely, and Joe Biden. All that and more in The Morning Shift for August 9, 2021.
When I was a kid in the ‘90s, the talk was that global warming was a real issue and we really needed to do something about it. Also, we need to save the rainforests. In the 2000s, the talk was that global warming is still a really big issue and we have done jack shit about it and, for real guys, it’s time. In the 2010s, the talk was that we have done almost nothing to address this and, interesting, we’re starting to see the consequences of that. In the 2020s, New York City has turned into a subtropical climate and there are terrifying wildfires everywhere and icecaps are disappearing and ah, hell, if only we could’ve foreseen all of this.
According to a new report from the United Nations, much of the damage has already been done. From The New York Times:
Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, largely by burning coal, oil and gas for energy.
But that’s only the beginning, according to the report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations. Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked in.
At 1.5 degrees of warming, scientists have found, the dangers grow considerably. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. Hundreds of millions more would struggle for water because of severe droughts. Some animal and plant species alive today will be gone. Coral reefs, which sustain fisheries for large swaths of the globe, will suffer more frequent mass die-offs.
“We can expect a significant jump in extreme weather over the next 20 or 30 years,” said Piers Forster, a climate scientist at the University of Leeds and one of hundreds of international experts who helped write the report. “Things are unfortunately likely to get worse than they are today.”
Not all is lost, however, and humanity can still prevent the planet from getting even hotter. Doing so would require a coordinated effort among countries to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by around 2050, which would entail a rapid shift away from fossil fuels starting immediately, as well as potentially removing vast amounts of carbon from the air. If that happened, global warming would likely halt and level off at around 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report concludes.
The cars are a not-small part of this, of course, but it’s a mistake to blame car enthusiasts, who are an infinitesimal part of it; governments really gotta get their shit into gear to make any real impact, including our own.
Under the agency’s proposal, which is now subject to a public-comment period, auto makers would be allowed some increased flexibility to comply by using credits they banked in past years when they surpassed their sales goals under the fuel-efficiency requirements.
That is likely to spur opposition from the left, with some environmentalists already saying the president is caving in to the auto industry. The EPA’s proposal would produce just 75% of efficiency gains that would have come from the original Obama-era rules, according to an analysis from Consumer Reports Inc., a nonprofit membership organization known for its product reviews.
“There’s no doubt [the EPA proposal] is a big improvement over where we were,” said David Friedman, Consumer Reports’ vice president of advocacy. “But it doesn’t go as far as our technology can go, and both where consumers and the climate need us to go.”
And the regulations themselves aren’t set in stone, said Mary Nichols, a former chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board and a pioneer of fuel-economy regulation.
Mr. Biden is taking action now to toughen fuel-efficiency standards in large part because former President Donald Trump drastically relaxed standards first imposed by former President Barack Obama.
“An administration that is determined to dismantle them can quickly shift course,” Ms. Nichols said.
Unless the automakers are kicking and screaming, you can probably assume that the standards aren’t good enough. Incidentally, there was a nice event at the White House in which everyone seemed to have a good time.
Tesla is going to India and hoping to tap a market that non-domestic carmakers tend to steer clear of because of steep import taxes, but Reuters says that might be changing, with a view to attracting Tesla in mind.
India is considering slashing import duties on electric cars to as low as 40%, two senior government officials told Reuters, days after Tesla Inc’s appeals for a cut polarised the country’s auto industry.
For imported electric vehicles (EVs) with a value of less than $40,000 - including the car’s cost, insurance and freight - the government is discussing slashing the tax rate to 40% from 60% presently, the officials told Reuters.
For EVs valued at more than $40,000, it is looking at cutting the rate to 60% from 100%, they said.
“We haven’t firmed up the reduction in duties yet, but there are discussions that are ongoing,” one of the officials said.
Reuters also says that the majority of India’s three-million-a-year new car sales are under $20,000, so, relatively speaking, Tesla coming in and selling cars for a lot more than that wouldn’t alter the landscape much. But it is the latest example of Tesla going somewhere and persuading the government to do something in its favor.
The two are teaming up to sell cars in Asia. Something something synergy.
The two companies have signed a framework agreement to set up the [joint venture], which will build and sell Renault-branded gasoline-electric hybrid cars in China using Geely’s technologies, supply chains and manufacturing facilities.
Renault will focus on sales and marketing.
As part of the partnership, announced Monday, the two automakers also agreed to explore a joint localization of Geely’s Lynk & CO hybrid vehicles in South Korea, where Renault has been manufacturing and selling cars for more than two decades.
The venture would focus on China and South Korea initially but would likely to be expanded to cover fast-growing Asian markets.
Geely and Renault are also looking at developing full-electric cars for the venture, one source familiar with the matter said.
Admittedly, I’m pretty biased on this one, as this is my backyard, and watching New York City close 34th Avenue in Queens to great success has been one of the most heartwarming parts of all of This Shit. The New York Times has now taken stock of the situation in a long story this morning and has found that everyone loves the closed street as well. Except for a few people, who don’t like it and have great difficulty explaining why.
“It’s not just about traffic, it’s about the safety of anyone using 34th Avenue,” said Gloria Contreras, 52, citing her 6-year-old daughter’s near misses with a cyclist and an electric scooter rider.
This seems better than almost getting hit by a car? But I digress.
Caroline Flores-Oyola, 22, a college student, embraced the open street because “you could breathe.”
Then people got a little too comfortable, she said, taking over the street for picnics and birthday parties.
“I felt there was an abuse of the open space because there are no rules,” she said.
Ms. Flores-Oyola and other residents expressed concerns in a neighborhood Facebook group, only to be ignored or called car-lovers. Ms. Flores-Oyola, who does not own a car, was asked “if I got paid to hate on the street.”
She started a group, 34 Compromise, which has called for a host of changes, including reducing the hours and length of the open street. More than 2,000 people have signed a petition for compromise.
“We’re not against it,” said Paola Peguero, 33, a freelance photographer. “It just needs adjustments so it works for everyone.”
About 175,000 people live in Jackson Heights, so congratulations to these folks for getting less than two percent of them to sign an online petition. Also, congratulations to The New York Times for both-sidesing an issue which is truly not controversial except for a tiny vocal minority. At the annual meeting of my co-op a couple months ago, some moron raised an objection to the open street, they were shouted down, everyone laughed, and then quickly moved on.
At the time of the incident, the 38-year-old Slater was a steward on Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York City. He contended that when the flight landed a passenger became abusive toward him during an argument over luggage. Although other passengers on the flight later disputed Slater’s account of the passenger’s behavior, what happened next was clear: The flight attendant got on the plane’s public address system, cursed at the passenger and said, “I’ve been in this business for twenty years. And that’s it. I’ve had it. I’m done.” Afterward, he took two beers from the beverage cart, deployed the emergency exit and started down the slide. Realizing he’d left his bags on the aircraft, he scrambled back up the slide to retrieve them before fleeing down the chute again. After leaving the airport terminal, he drove to his home in Queens, New York.
Slater, the son of a pilot and a flight attendant, was soon taken into police custody. After posting $2,500 bail, he walked out of jail the next night an instant celebrity and even a folk hero to stressed-out, overworked Americans. Experiencing his 15 minutes of fame, Slater appeared on national talk shows, was honored with Facebook fan pages and received offers to do reality TV programs and endorse a variety of products.
I’m surprised, in this era of flight attendant abuse, that there hasn’t been another Slater. Anyway, don’t abuse service workers, I know you’re better than that.
A squeak has developed on my seat belt whenever it retracts, which made me ponder just how long my 13-year-old car would last, given that cars generally go for about 15 years. That is, unless you are not some nut who insists on owning and maintaining a car older than that. Given that the Fit has fewer than 80,000 miles, I’ll be there in no time.