Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

August 28, 2018 by  
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More than a million electric cars can now be seen on the streets of Europe, thanks in part to a sales surge in the first half of 2018. Europe has reached this benchmark more quickly than the United States, which is on track to meet it later this year. Europe and the U.S. have trailed behind China, which reached one million electric vehicle sales in 2017; however, Europe’s achievement is no small feat. Related: The number of electric vehicles on the streets could triple in two years Europe saw 195,000 electric cars sold during the first half of this year, a 42 percent increase from last year. This figure includes electric cars sold in the European Union as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway, the latter of which continues to lead the way, with the highest number of electric vehicles sold. Related: World’s fastest electric car charger offers 120-miles of range in 8 minutes Industry analyst EV-Volumes  estimates that European sales of electric vehicles will reach 1.35 million by the end of the year. The figure includes both fully electric vehicles as well as hybrid plug-in models that switch to conventional engines after their short-distance battery runs out of power. Industry leaders are optimistic about the outlook for environmentally friendly cars, despite plug-in hybrids only accounting for 2% of market share. Viktor Irle, market analyst at EV-Volumes, commented, “a stock of one million electric vehicles is an important milestone on the road to electrification and meeting emission targets but it is of course not enough.” One thing, though, is certain – Europe definitely has the drive to achieve fossil-fuel-free roads. Via The Guardian    

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Europe officially has more than one million electric cars

France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

August 14, 2018 by  
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Take that, plastic! France has announced that it plans to make bottles made with recycled plastic less expensive than those made from new plastic, part of a larger plan to intensify regulations on plastic use. Other aspects of the plan include increasing taxes on landfill and lowering the value-added tax on recycling activities. Related: Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets According to Junior Environment Minister Brune Poirson, the French government will introduce further specific measures to address the problem of plastic pollution . “We need to transform the French economy,” she said. “We are launching a movement that will be scrutinized and followed by our European partners.” Part of this movement is a plan to reduce the price of products packaged in recycled containers by up to 10 percent. The discount-premium system encourages its consumers to recycle by making sustainability the more affordable option. “Tomorrow, when there is a choice between two bottles, one made with recycled plastic, the other not, the first one will be cheaper,” Poiron stated. Related: Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution Currently, France has the second-worst recycling rate in Europe, with just 25.5 percent of its plastic packaging waste recycled. By comparison, Germany and the Netherlands recycle about 50 percent of their plastic waste. Nevertheless, the French government plans to change its plastic recycling rate to 100% by the year 2025, with the recent announcement marking the first steps toward this goal. Veolia and Suez, recycling powerhouses in the French market, have long been calling for the regulation changes, which would provide a boost for business. Retailers have also joined the cause; for example, French company E.Leclerc has pledged to eliminate the sale of throwaway plastics and replace them with more eco-friendly alternatives, such as bamboo , and is testing a loyalty point system for customers who deposit plastic and glass bottles in some store outlets. + Eurostat + Le Journal de Dimanche Via Reuters

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France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe

July 11, 2018 by  
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International rights group Avaaz says the illegal ivory trade is still alive and well in Europe after the group purchased 109 ivory products from 10 countries and found that many of these items were illegaly sourced from wildlife after 1989. The findings further support Avaaz’s mission in calling on Europe to completely end its ivory trade and protect elephants . During its four-month investigation, the non-profit was able to successfully purchase ivory items in 10 European nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The ivory products were then shipped to Oxford University , where researchers used carbon dating to determine their authenticity and age. According to Avaaz, approximately 20 percent of the discovered items were harvested in 1990 or later. Under international regulations, it is illegal to sell any ivory taken from animals after 1990, when sanctions on the organic material went into effect. Related: United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade The good news is that the majority of items found date back as far as 1947 and later, meaning no new animals were killed or threatened for ivory. While this is a major win for animal conservation , pre-1990 ivory trade is only allowed with official documentation — Avaaz was able to purchase the items illegally. “This proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe,” Bert Wander, campaign director for Avaaz, said in a media statement. “Every day the sale of these trinkets continues is a day closer to wiping out majestic elephants forever.” The undercover operation is part of a wider awareness campaign by Avaaz to stop all ivory trading across Europe. In a recent update , the activist organization accused the European Union of being open to future trading opportunities. Furthermore, Avaaz claims the EU does not support a proposed five-point plan to protect all elephants from poaching for their tusks. Avaaz is not the only group calling for the outright end of ivory sales. Tusk , a charity championed by Prince William , is demanding the U.K. end all ivory trading, claiming the nation is the third-largest supplier of illegal products to the U.S. + Avaaz Via The Guardian

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Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe

Ambitious alliance mobilizes value chain for bio-based polymers

July 2, 2018 by  
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Project Effective, a partnership born in Europe, aims to replace petroleum-based synthetic fibers.

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Ambitious alliance mobilizes value chain for bio-based polymers

Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

June 15, 2018 by  
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When Anna and Sebastian Schlüter decided to take a break from working in Berlin to embark on their long-awaited trip around Europe, traveling via fire truck wasn’t the first thing on their minds. But on the advice of Sebastian’s father, and after coming across a deal on a 1987 Mercedes-Benz fire truck, the duo found themselves in a year-long conversion project that turned the vehicle into a cozy travel camper. Nicknamed ‘ Bombero ’ (Spanish for “fireman”), the converted fire truck took about a year to complete and has provided the perfect travel wheels for Anna and Sebastian, who have visited 19 countries and counting thus far. Purchased for approximately $14,700 USD, the 30-year-old Mercedes Benz fire truck conversion involved a gut-renovation that decreased the 11-ton vehicle to a weight of 7.5 tons. The couple initially parked the vehicle on the Schlüter family farm in Nottuln, Germany, where it was worked on with help from Sebastian’s brother and father, who has experience with converting a Unimog into a camper . Thanks to Sebastian’s father’s experience and many helping hands, the project was relatively low-cost. Sebastian handled the engineering and construction, while Anna led the interior design. The cost of materials, some of which were gifted or found in secondhand shops, is estimated at around $29,520. In addition to emptying out the interior, the Schlüters made the fire truck more livable by lifting up the roof to add extra windows and inserting insulation and wiring. Custom-made upholstery, a mix of birch , oak and spruce as well as decorative elements like porcelain door knobs make the space cozy and inviting. The fire truck was outfitted with all the necessities, such as a full-size bed, closet, dining area, a bathroom and a full kitchen with an oven and electrical appliances. The off-grid home is also equipped with a gas tank, fresh water and gray water tanks and rooftop solar panels. Related: The Beer Moth is a Sweet Room in a Refurbished Fire Truck in Scotland “Many decisions were very deliberately led by quality over price — keeping in mind that anything that keeps you from having to fix it while on the road will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy traveling rather than being stressed out and having to find solutions while in a foreign country,” explained the couple. “This decision paid off very well — no items, besides the brake lights, has broken down during the last 11 months! Not one thing!” Anna and Sebastian hit the road with their dog, Lotta, in June 2017 and have clocked more than 10,000 miles in their ongoing trip around Europe. You can follow the Bombero Travel adventure here . + Bombero Travel Via Dwell Conversion image copyright Anna Schlüter, all others copyright Seraia Photography

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Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

Court in Germany paves the way for the immediate ban of older diesel vehicles

May 22, 2018 by  
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The top administrative court in Germany has issued a ruling that empowers municipalities to ban older diesel vehicles, effective immediately, in pursuit of cleaner air. This decision comes only one day after the European Commission filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European Union (EU), that cited Germany for its cities’ continued failure to meet EU standards on nitrogen dioxide (NO?) levels. “Such restrictions, in their intensity, do not go beyond other passage and stopping bans as justified by road law requirements, which motorists always have to reckon with and which they principally have to accept,” the court said in a 30-page statement. The recent ruling and how cities respond will have significant consequences for European automakers such as Volkswagen , which have invested heavily in diesel vehicles. Diesel is known to create less greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change while emitting greater amounts of other pollutants that can cause respiratory disease. In Germany, a more dramatic diesel ban may undermine the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has been criticized for its closeness to the industry. “This ruling is a disaster for the government which one-sidedly stands in for the greed for profit by the carmakers while leaving 10 million owners of manipulated diesel cars alone,” Juergen Resch, managing director of Germany’s DUH environmental lobby, told Eco News . Related: Rome is banning all oil-burning cars by 2024 Once imposed, diesel bans could remove millions of vehicles from the road almost immediately. Only 2.7 million of the 15 million active diesel vehicles in Germany meet the EU emissions standards. The court recommended gradual implementation of bans, starting with the removal of the most polluting vehicles. The court’s decision is the most recent policy change following the 2015 Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal . Via Eco News Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Court in Germany paves the way for the immediate ban of older diesel vehicles

California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms

April 24, 2018 by  
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Between 2011 and 2017, California suffered through one of the worst droughts in its history. After the drought broke last year in what would be California’s wettest winter in a century, extreme flooding caused severe damage and killed several people. In a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change , researchers predict that similar patterns of polarized weather will continue to define California’s climate well into the 21st century, particularly if greenhouse gas emissions are not immediately and significantly reduced. If emissions continue to grow until 2100, the drastic wet-dry weather patterns could double in frequency, wreaking havoc in the state. California is not unfamiliar with bouts of strong drought and flooding . In 1862, what is known as the Great Flood devastated California in a weather event that has not be repeated since. Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, which is conducive to dry summers, wet winters, and powerful shifts between those two extremes. However, as with much of the extreme weather expected from climate change, the frequency and intensity of such weather events are increasing. As the weather becomes more destructive, the authors predict that California could face serious challenges, particularly in water storage/access and flood control. Related: Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change In order to prepare for a more hostile climate, California must upgrade its infrastructure. “Few of the dams, levees and canals that currently protect millions living in California’s flood plains and facilitate the movement of water from Sierra Nevada watersheds to coastal cities have been tested by a deluge as severe” as the Great Flood of 1862, wrote the researchers.  On the other side of the world, Europe faces a drier future, with another study predicting that the percentage of drought-prone area will double if global average temperatures continue to rise beyond a 3 degrees Celsius increase. Even if the goals of the Paris agreement are met, which at the moment seems doubtful , Africa is still expected to endure potentially destabilizing extreme weather as a result of foregone climate change .   Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia (1) (2)

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California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms

Helsinki unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035

March 21, 2018 by  
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Finland’s capital city has unveiled a new plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, accelerating the goal by 15 years. The plan, called Carbon Neutral Helsinki 2035 , outlines 143 specific actions that will result in reduced energy consumption and a greater share of renewable energy sources . In a press release, city officials said, “Helsinki’s definition of carbon neutrality is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated within the city borders by 80% and to offset the rest.” The Nordic city currently has a population of 640,000, according to the press release. Although they expect that to grow to 780,000, officials are convinced they can reach their carbon neutral target by taking specific actions to improve energy efficiency, increase renewable uptake, capture and reuse waste energy and improve public transportation . Most of Helsinki’s current greenhouse gas emissions stem from heating. The action plan, co-written with input from various civic organizations, stakeholders and researchers, proposes to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by one-fifth by upgrading infrastructure, enforcing stricter standards, and incorporating both heat recovery and geothermal heating technology . Solar power, despite the city’s northern latitude (slightly further north than Russia’s St Petersburg), is expected to produce sufficient power to cover one-sixth of the city’s overall electricity consumption. Related: Detox your troubles away in this new public sauna built with natural materials By introducing more sustainable transportation, including electric vehicles, the city could cut related greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 69 percent — according to the plan. Esa Nikunen, Director General of Helsinki Environment Services says, “Helsinki can achieve its goal in transportation, which is much stricter than the national goal, owing to the increasing density in our urban structure . Helsinki has excellent opportunities to promote public transportation, walking, and cycling”. Although these long-term goals will take time to implement, the city has already cut their CO2 emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels, or by 1,000 kilotons per year (kt/a). By 2035, their target is to generate only 700 kt/a, which they will offset. With such progressive, proactive plans in place, it is perhaps little wonder that Finland was recently rated the happiest country on Earth . + Helsinki’s Climate Action Images via DepositPhotos Helsinki 1 , Helsinki 2

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Helsinki unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035

Rome is banning all oil-burning cars by 2024

March 1, 2018 by  
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Rome is jumping on the diesel-banning bandwagon – the city just announced plans to ban oil-burning cars within the city by 2024. That’s huge news, because roughly two-thirds of new cars sold last year in Italy were diesel, and Rome has struggled with poor air quality. The news comes on the heels of a court case in Germany that enabled cities to ban diesel vehicles . Rome is one of the most congested cities in Europe due to a constant stream of tourists on decidedly un-modern streets. Rome also lacks any major industries, which means that a majority of the air pollution plaguing the city is caused by vehicles. That pollution doesn’t just harm the health of people in the city, but it also causes serious damage to the ancient buildings and monuments. Related: German cities get the green light to ban diesel vehicles Rome has tried to limit pollution before. In the past the city has experimented with limiting older cars and limiting cars with even or odd plate numbers on alternating days. Neither tactic has done much to help, because many people just flout or skirt the laws. The decision was announced by mayor Virginia Raggi on Facebook . Via AutoBlog Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Rome is banning all oil-burning cars by 2024

Hyundai’s first fully-electric SUV boasts 292-mile range

March 1, 2018 by  
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Hyundai just unveiled their electric SUV , the Kona Electric , and it can travel around 292 miles on a single charge. The company says this vehicle will be the “first fully-electric subcompact SUV on the European market,” and features progressive design , including a closed grille on the front of the car that enhances aerodynamics. Hyundai will be releasing short- and long-range models of the Kona Electric, boasting ranges of 186 and 292 miles respectively, according to The Verge . The short-range model includes a 99 kilowatt (kW) electric motor and 39.2 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, and reaches 60 miles per hour (mph) from zero in around nine seconds. There’s a 150 kW motor and 64 kWh battery in the long-range model, which can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. Related: Hyundai unveils new Nexo fuel cell SUV with an impressive 370-mile range Both models charge up to 80 percent in 54 minutes at a 100 kW DC fast charger. Via a standard AC outlet, the short-range model will charge up fully in around six hours and 10 minutes, and the long-range model will charge up in around nine hours and 40 minutes due to the larger battery. Smart technology can be found throughout the vehicle. Both models will be equipped with semi-autonomous driving and safety technology like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and lane keeping assist. A heads-up display provides speed and navigation information. There’s a wireless charging pad for Qi-enabled smartphones in the center console. The car also includes a button type shift-by-wire system so drivers can shift to park, neutral, forward or reverse with the press of a button. The car even boasts 21 exterior color combinations — with a two-tone roof and seven distinctive exterior colors, there’s plenty of room for customization. The Kona Electric is set to hit Europe and South Korea later in 2018. Hyundai has not yet said how much the car will cost. + Hyundai Kona Electric + Hyundai Kona Electric Highlights Via The Verge Images via Hyundai

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