First buses, now Shenzhen has turned its taxis electric in green push

Roads in a Chinese city have gotten much quieter in recent years. Shenzhen, widely called the Silicon Valley of hardware, has been pouring resources to phase out rattling diesel vehicles chugging through the city of 12 million people. All public buses in the city went electric by the end of 2017. Taxis soon followed suit. […]

Roads in a Chinese city have gotten much quieter in recent years. Shenzhen, widely called the Silicon Valley of hardware, has been pouring resources to phase out rattling diesel vehicles chugging through the city of 12 million people.

All public buses in the city went electric by the end of 2017. Taxis soon followed suit. The Transport Commission of Shenzhen announced on its official site this week that 99 percent of the city’s more than 21,000 cabs are now powered by batteries.

However, 1,350 vehicles from the fleet are still waiting to be deployed because of a shortage of charging stations, a sign the city’s infrastructure is not up to speed with its electric car movement. A survey done by newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily last year showed that 80 percent of Shenzhen’s cab drivers were unsatisfied with the supply and allocation of charging stations in the city.

Shenzhen, where Warren Buffet-backed battery and car manufacturer BYD stations its headquarters, is spearheading China’s electric dream. Its electrifying evolution dates back to 2010 when the city became part of China’s grand plan to pilot hybrid and all-electric vehicles with deep subsidies for both manufacturers and consumers. Underneath the ostensible goal of improving air quality is China’s ambition to be a world leader in battery technologies, which could subsequently drive employment and export sales.

Shenzhen’s traffic authority claims that electric cabs are 70 percent more energy efficient compared to those powered by fossil fuel. The entire fleet of electric cabs is estimated to cut carbon emissions by 856 thousand metric tons a year for Shenzhen. That’s equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions neutralized by 1,007,445 acres of US forests in one year, according to a greenhouse gas calculator provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s worth noting that the environmental perks of EVs are dependent on how a city is generating electricity. The dirtier the energy source, like coal and oil, the dirtier its electric cars are.

A major beneficiary in Shenzhen’s green push is BYD, which manufacturers a big portion of the city’s non-petrol buses and taxis. Recently, the carmaker has made forays into overseas markets to electrify their public transportation system as China weighs subsidy cuts on electric cars. The Shenzhen automaker is trecking across the globe and shipping fleets to the UK, Chile and Egypt. In Asia, it’s sold electric vehicles to neighboring Macau, Singapore and Japan.

New U.S. report says that climate change could cost nearly $500 billion per year by 2090

A new report from the U.S. government on the impacts of climate change on society indicates that unless action is taken, climatological events could cost the country nearly half a trillion dollars annually by 2090. The National Climate Assessment is a congressionally mandated report on the impacts of climate change and was culled from the work […]

A new report from the U.S. government on the impacts of climate change on society indicates that unless action is taken, climatological events could cost the country nearly half a trillion dollars annually by 2090.

The National Climate Assessment is a congressionally mandated report on the impacts of climate change and was culled from the work of 300 authors in a dozen federal agencies. The 1,000 page report covers the effect of climate change on agriculture, labor, geography, and health in the United States.

It’s the second volume of a report intended to give federal policymakers information on how global warming will impact the United States. 

It also comes at a time when the current administration is doing everything to refute the mounting evidence coming from inside its own agencies and shirk its national and international commitments to mitigating the effects of global climate change.

In the absence of more significant global mitigation efforts, climate change is projected to impose substantial damages on the U.S. economy, human health, and the environment. Under scenarios with high emissions and limited or no adaptation, annual losses in some sectors are estimated to grow to hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century. It is very likely that some physical and ecological impacts will be irreversible for thousands of years, while others will be permanent.

There is hope that the world can still change course and reverse the effects associated with climate change. In fact, the study says that near-term mitigation efforts should begin showing results by the middle of the century. It’ll let scientists know what steps they’re taking are working and what aren’t — ideally.

Many climate change impacts and associated economic damages in the United States can be substantially reduced over the course of the 21st century through global-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, though the magnitude and timing of avoided risks vary by sector and region. The effect of near-term emissions mitigation on reducing risks is expected to become apparent by mid-century and grow substantially thereafter.

But for the scientists that collected the data and assembled the report, the evidence of the human impact of climate change is now incontrovertible.

Observations from around the world show the widespread effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s climate. High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing. Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are warming, rising, and becoming more acidic, and marine species are moving to new locations toward cooler waters. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline. Growing seasons are lengthening, and wildfires are increasing.

While the federal government may not be willing to take action to curb the emissions that contribute to global warming, states, led by California, increasingly are developing legislation to mitigate or reduce carbon emissions and to create adaptation strategies for dealing with a warming climate.

Venture capitalists also are beginning to commit significant capital to technologies focused on alternative energy generation, energy storage, emissions reduction, and energy conservation that all fall under the category of sustainable solutions.

Indeed, the public offering for the vegetarian consumer food company, Beyond Meat, shows that there’s a growing market for investments in companies that promote a more sustainable lifestyle.

And early stage accelerator programs like Y Combinator are also getting into the game, calling for startups that are developing technologies to reduce the emissions that are contributing to global warming.

The new report from the government paints a dire picture for the future if nothing is done, but, as the investment and technology community once again mobilizes to develop potential solutions, there’s a chance that things may not be completely hopeless yet.

The critical step will be if the U.S. government will heed the advice of its own scientists, and take steps to encourage greater action to what is increasingly looking like the biggest threat to human welfare.