Hyundai Adds Electric Vehicle ‘Skateboard’ Project With L.A. Startup Canoo To $87 Billion Mobility Push

Electric vehicle startup Canoo's skateboard-style platform is designed to be used for a range of ... [+] models.

Canoo

Hyundai, fresh off its investment in a U.K.-based electric delivery van maker, has enlisted a Los Angeles startup to help create a “skateboard” platform the South Korean auto giant can use for a range of lower-cost electric cars and trucks. 

Under the technical partnership, Canoo, which plans to start a subscription service for consumers to use its pod-like electric vans, will work with Hyundai and subsidiary Kia to modify the flat platform created for its futuristic vehicle that integrates the battery pack, motors and other key components. Hyundai isn’t investing in Canoo but instead paying an undisclosed amount for its engineering services. 

The goal is to create low-cost common architecture from which sedans, vans, delivery vehicles or trucks can be easily produced, eliminating the traditional use of multiple platforms. Hyundai says it’s got plans to create a variety of purpose-built vehicles that could come from Canoo’s skateboard. 

Canoo's "skateboard" platform.

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UK government scraps green homes grant after six months

The government has scrapped its flagship green homes grant scheme, the centrepiece of Boris Johnson’s promise to “build back greener” from the Covid-19 pandemic, just over six months after its launch.

The abandonment of the £1.5bn programme, which offered households grants of up to £5,000 or £10,000 to put in insulation or low-carbon heating, leaves the UK without a plan for tackling one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

People who have had their applications for vouchers under the scheme accepted will receive any money owed, but no new applications will be accepted after the end of this month.

UK government's green homes grant in urgent need of rescue, MPs say

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Tesla Crash Investigators Slam Autopilot Deficiencies, Lack Of U.S. Rules For ‘Partially Automated’ Cars

The March 2018 crash in which a Tesla Model X driver was killed when his vehicle struck a highway ... [+] barrier in Mountain View, California, while using the Autopilot feature.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Top U.S. safety investigators reviewing numerous Tesla crashes in which drivers were using the company’s Autopilot feature at the time of those accidents are highly critical of the system’s technical limitations and the Transportation Department’s failure to set rules for so-called partially automated drive systems.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been analyzing four different accidents, including a March 2018 crash in which Tesla Model X owner Walter Huang died when his vehicle drove straight into a traffic barrier in Mountain View, California, that it failed to detect. Huang was relying on Autopilot to drive for him, and apparently playing a game on his phone at the time of the accident. NTSB determined Autopilot lacks the ability to monitor whether drivers are paying attention and that Tesla doesn’t limit its use to specific conditions, such as highway-only driving. Investigators also blasted the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for ignoring its requests to set rules for Autopilot and similar systems.

Huang’s “tragic crash clearly demonstrates the limitations of advanced driver assistance systems that are available to consumers today. There is not a vehicle currently available to U.S. consumers that is self-driving. Period,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s hearing in Washington. “We urge Tesla to work on improving its Autopilot technology and for NHTSA to fulfill its oversight responsibility to ensure that corrective action is taken when necessary. It's time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars. Because they don't have driverless cars.” 

“It's time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars. Because they don't have driverless cars.” 

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Drowned land: hunger stalks South Sudan's flooded villages

After the unprecedented floods last summer, the people of Old Fangak, a small town in northern South Sudan, should be planting now. But the flood water has not receded, the people are still marooned and now they are facing severe hunger.

Unusually heavy rains began last July, and the White Nile burst its banks, destroyed all the crops and encroached on farms and villages, affecting Jonglei and other states, leaving people to scramble for a few strips of dry land.

Fields are still submerged, mud homes and stiff sticks of dead maize are slowly collapsing into the water, entire villages have been abandoned and large areas turned into swamps. Of the 62 villages served by Old Fangak’s central market, 45 are devastated by the flooded river.

The July harvest would have fed the local people through to this spring but all the crops were lost. Families sleep in abandoned schools or in the open on scraps of higher land. There is no question of migrating to dry areas as the flood extends for miles and at least Old Fangak is secluded from the constant conflict that besets much of the rest of the country.

‘Nothing. I couldn’t rescue any of my crops. All were destroyed.’ Nyayua Thang, 62, at Wangchot primary school. She hasn’t eaten in days

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The citizen regulators taking on big polluters when the EPA won't

The headaches, asthma attacks and serious nosebleeds that plagued Diego Mayens as a child in West Long Beach, California were all triggered by one basic activity – playing outdoors. He suspects the foul emissions from nearby refineries and other heavy industry were behind his problems.

“It had to do a lot with the air quality in the area,” Mayens told the Guardian. “I feel particularly bad seeing kids playing outside and people who live here walking around who might not know what they’re breathing in.”

Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal

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Among the toxins hanging in the air was benzene, a dangerous carcinogen that a 2017 California investigation found two nearby Phillips 66 refineries were emitting levels over 200 times higher than the company had reported. In the investigation’s wake, residents expected swift and forceful action from regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, but that never happened.

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Activist on hunger strike in Canada calls on government to halt logging

A man in the second week of a hunger strike is calling on a provincial government in Canada to halt logging, amid growing fears that clearcutting the country’s eastern forests could prove devastating for endangered species.

Jacob Fillmore, a 25-year-old activist in the province of Nova Scotia, has survived on broth and water for 12 days, camping outside the province’s legislative assembly to raise awareness over the destruction of old-growth forest.

“I recognise that a hunger strike is quite an extreme measure to take to get my message heard, but I think it’s time for extreme measures,” Fillmore told the Guardian. “We really don’t have any time to lose.”

Early in the week, protesters joined Fillmore in Halifax, the province’s capital, blocking roads and demanding the government halt the controversial logging practice of clearcutting, which they fear is pushing ecosystems to the brink. Support for Fillmore’s protest also speaks to a broader frustration across Canada over the continued harvest of old-growth forests – despite warnings from ecologists that the ageing trees represent a valuable tool in the fight against climate change.

Logging in Nova Scotia. Photograph: All Canada Photos/Alamy

For more than three centuries Nova Scotia’s forests have been harvested for valuable timber exports. But generations of relentless extraction have left the province with few remaining stands of Acadian old-growth, a mix of hardwood and softwood trees that once blanketed much of the Maritime province.

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Rio Tinto backs activist resolution to set emissions targets consistent with Paris agreement

The board of Rio Tinto has backed a shareholders push that would require the company to set emissions targets consistent with the Paris agreement and suspend membership of industry associations that lobby against action on the climate crisis.

In a statement to the ASX on Friday afternoon, the mining company recommended shareholders endorse two resolutions brought by activist groups, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and Market Forces, ahead of Rio’s annual general meeting in May.

“For the first time, the board of an Australian company has supported a shareholder resolution, Rio Tinto should be commended for this,” Dan Gocher, the director of climate and environment at the ACCR, said.

“The board of Rio Tinto, already under significant pressure from shareholders, has finally acknowledged that its funding of Australia’s climate stalemate goes against its own long-term interests.”

Rio Tinto chairman to stand down amid Juukan Gorge outcry

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Eco-friendly homes for sale – in pictures

Original author: Anna White
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Coles shuns coal: supermarket giant vows to source all its electricity from renewables by 2025

The supermarket giant Coles has pledged to source all its electricity from renewable sources across its brands by 2025 after signing another agreement to buy clean power from a Victorian windfarm.

The move means all three of Australia’s major supermarkets, including Woolworths and Aldi, will be sourcing all their electricity from renewables by 2025 at the latest.

Climate change campaigners said the announcement showed a significant shift was occurring across Australia’s corporate landscape.

Coles Group’s chief executive, Steven Cain, told Guardian Australia the commitment, which builds on the group’s previous deals to buy renewable power, was responding to calls from staff and customers but also shareholders and investors.

“There’s no doubt that in out shareholder meetings people are asking more questions about sustainability because investors around the world – who themselves have investors – are asking, are we putting our money to work in a responsible fashion,” he said. “There’s more money available to companies that are doing this.”

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UN’s Kunming biodiversity summit delayed a second time

A key United Nations summit to negotiate an accord for nature similar to the Paris climate agreement has been postponed for a second time, it has been announced.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a a statement that Cop15, the biggest biodiversity summit in a decade, had been moved to October due to delays related to the coronavirus pandemic. The negotiations in Kunming, China, had been scheduled for May after they were moved from October 2020.

Countries are expected to reach an agreement over targets to protect the natural world, including proposals to conserve 30% of the world’s oceans and land by 2030, introduce controls on invasive species and reduce plastics pollution.

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What is the Kunming biodiversity conference 2021?

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In 2021, hundreds of biodiversity experts and government ministers are expected to negotiate new targets on biodiversity at a meeting in the Chinese city of Kunming. The aim of the accord, “a Paris agreement for nature”, is to stop and reverse rampant biodiversity loss around the world.

Why is it a big deal?
In 2017 scientists said humans were causing the sixth mass extinction event in the Earth’s history. Now the UN has reported that the world has failed to meet a single target agreed a decade ago to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems.

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Transitioning To A Smarter Grid: AMSC

The present grid paradigm has reached its sundown - it's time to start transitioning to a new, more ... [+] efficient paradigm.

Alexander Popov via Unsplash

This article is one in a series investigating the importance of modernizing and decarbonizing the electric grid. The company we feature in this article – American Superconductor AMSC – is working on improving current grid infrastructure as part of a multi-decade transition upon which we are just embarking.

If you want to understand the issue in context, see the article Grid Modernization; for cutting edge experts’ take on the topic, see the article Here Is How To Create A Clean, Resilient Electrical Grid. For a look at an innovative company spun out of Stanford University’s labs that have developed a battery with tremendous potential for providing grid storage, see the article, Enervenue: The Batteries We Need for Grid-Scale Storage.

Executive Summary

Rooftop solar installations place an enormous strain on the 20th century grid – which was designed to operate essentially unidirectionally – by creating big swings in electricity supply and demand during the day.To guard against cascading outages caused by local supply-demand imbalances, the grid’s transmission and distribution (T&D) system* was designed for compartmentalization.Compartmentalization guards against outage risk, but means that power is not distributed as efficiently as it might be.AMSC is using its novel capability in the field of engineering high-temperature semiconducting (HTS) cables to distribute power more effectively where it is most needed; doing so, it is helping to create a more resilient, efficient grid.

One of the biggest stresses placed on grids today is something that many casual observers and many utility customers consider an undiluted positive – the huge increase in retail power generation from rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels.

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Proterra, Lightning eMotors Partner On Electric Commercial Van Batteries

Lightning eMotors, based in Loveland, Colorado, produces commercial electric vehicles, including ... [+] cargo vans, passenger vans, shuttle buses, ambulances, school buses and recreational vehicles.

Lightning eMotors photo

Proterra, a Silicon Valley-based developer of battery technology for mass transit and commercial vehicles, is working with Lightning eMotors on a battery system for Lightning’s commercial vans, the two companies announced Thursday.

Lightning eMotors produces commercial electric vehicles, including cargo vans, passenger vans, shuttle buses, ambulances, school buses and recreational vehicles. It expects to make up to 3,000 vehicles by 2023, and deliver its first electric transit vans by the end of 2021. The Loveland, Colorado-based company has been deploying zero-emission vehicles for commercial fleets since 2017.

Lightning buys chassis for its vehicles from other automakers then retrofits them with battery packs and other technology needed to convert them to electrified powertrains. “Proterra’s batteries are premium technology for premium vehicles,” Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser, said in a statement. “We are very pleased to be able to offer their batteries on our vehicles.”

The companies did not disclose terms of their collaboration. Both are in the process of going public through the backing of special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Also know as “blank check companies,” SPACs provide substantial investments in startups and promise to take them public within two years.

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Proterra, Lightning eMotors Partner On Electric Commercial Van Batteries

Lightning eMotors, based in Loveland, Colorado, produces commercial electric vehicles, including ... [+] cargo vans, passenger vans, shuttle buses, ambulances, school buses and recreational vehicles.

Lightning eMotors photo

Proterra, a Silicon Valley-based developer of battery technology for mass transit and commercial vehicles, is working with Lightning eMotors on a battery system for Lightning’s commercial vans, the two companies announced Thursday.

Lightning eMotors produces commercial electric vehicles, including cargo vans, passenger vans, shuttle buses, ambulances, school buses and recreational vehicles. It expects to make up to 3,000 vehicles by 2023, and deliver its first electric transit vans by the end of 2021. The Loveland, Colorado-based company has been deploying zero-emission vehicles for commercial fleets since 2017.

Lightning buys chassis for its vehicles from other automakers then retrofits them with battery packs and other technology needed to convert them to electrified powertrains. “Proterra’s batteries are premium technology for premium vehicles,” Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser, said in a statement. “We are very pleased to be able to offer their batteries on our vehicles.”

The companies did not disclose terms of their collaboration. Both are in the process of going public through the backing of special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Also know as “blank check companies,” SPACs provide substantial investments in startups and promise to take them public within two years.

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Is Sustainable Fashion Really Scalable?

Eco-friendly clothing.

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Some industry leaders have postulated a future with no need to grow raw cotton and a fashion industry that thrives on recycled and upcycled materials alone. While the point where we’ll negate the need for fresh raw materials is likely a long way off, not to mention questionable as a benchmark of sustainability, the proportion of sustainably sourced materials that go into our apparel and footwear is already growing rapidly.

A straw poll of fashion and premium apparel executives indicates we’re five or so years away from a crossover point where a majority of items are made predominantly with recycled or upcycled materials or are refurbished and resold. This outlook is optimistic, perhaps, but there seems little doubt that the ability to “do sustainability” is quickly becoming a requirement for fashion brands to be sustainable as enterprises.

Brands and consumers are becoming increasingly educated about the massive amount of clothing and textiles that is wasted each year instead of being recycled or upcycled into new goods. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 87% of material used for clothing production is landfilled or incinerated after its final use, representing a lost opportunity worth some $100 billion annually. The Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group estimate that 92 million tons of industry textile waste is created each year and fashion resale platform ThredUp says that US consumers alone discard nearly 17 billion pounds of apparel annually.

As former CEO of H&M Karl-Johan Persson said at the 2018 Fashion Summit in Hong Kong, “Without the transformation of the fashion industry, the planet will not be able to cope. …We definitely have to speed up the shift towards waste-free models, towards a circular economy, and we also need to start to think in new ways and start to collaborate with new partners – because no one can do this on their own.”

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BBC Accused Of Airing Incendiary Claim That Women Put In Danger By Low Traffic Neighborhoods

LTN barrier on Elm Park, a road in London.

Heather Glass

The Science and Environment Unit of BBC News has been accused of spreading falsehoods in a TV report on Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs) broadcast on March 17.

The report is the “most-watched video on the BBC website at the moment,” said a TV news anchor at the end of BBC London News last night, and “rightly so,” he added.

“It’s neighbors fighting neighbors over the issue of Low Traffic Neighborhoods,” the anchor said.

“You need to see it to believe it.”

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Australia lags far behind other top economies on 'green recovery' pandemic spending

Australia is the worst performer on a list of the world’s 50 largest economies for “green recovery” spending to kickstart economic growth after the Covid pandemic, according to research conducted for the United Nations environment program.

The research suggests Australia spent US$2bn on green initiatives during the coronavirus recovery, compared with US$57bn in France, US$54bn in South Korea, US$47bn in Germany, US$42bn in the United Kingdom, US$41bn in China and US$24bn in Japan. Germany spent $9bn on hydrogen alone.

The work draws on evidence collected up to February 2021 by Oxford University’s Economic Recovery Project. The initiative is supported by the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

Brian O’Callaghan, an Australian economist and engineer who leads Oxford’s Economic Recovery Project, told Guardian Australia the research indicates that governments are falling short on green recovery spending in global terms.

The Green Recovery: how to fix Australia's energy-inefficient homes – video

Australia got the wooden spoon – coming in at the bottom of the list.

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How Sustainable Is Your Easter Chocolate? NGOs Rank Candy Companies, From Good To Rotten

Chocolate sweet, cocoa pod and food dessert background

getty

Does your favorite chocolate cost the Earth, or is it as sweet on sustainability as it is to your tastebuds?

This week, the Rotten Egg Awards ranked 31 chocolate companies around the world for their performance on sustainability and human rights. And what’s clear from the ranking is that some companies are doing a far better job than others of keeping their tasty treats guilt-free.

Out ahead of Easter, which this year lands April 4, the results indicate that many of the world’s largest confectioners are cleaning up their act on critical issues like child labor and deforestation, most have plenty of room for improvement. And some—the eponymous Rotten Eggs—scored poorly in almost every area.

On the other hand, the top-scoring companies offer chocolate lovers new, ethical options to consider when it comes to fulfilling their cravings.

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Time is running short – but we can get a grip on the climate crisis | Alok Sharma

The climate crisis represents a clear and present danger to people and our planet. Its real-world consequences are now all too visible.

In Nepal last month, I met communities displaced by melting glaciers. In Ethiopia, I saw how floods, droughts and locusts have decimated crops. Around the world, oceans are warming, and storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying, while here at home, our coastal towns face serious long-term threats from rising seas. Unless we act now, we will be out of time to hold back the worst impacts.

Our planet is heating up, fast. On course, scientists tell us, for temperature rises of some 3.5C by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. The impact of such a rise will be nothing less than catastrophic.

Yet, at the same time, we are increasingly waking up to the danger, and the direction of travel is changing. Countries responsible for 65% of global emissions now have net zero or carbon neutral commitments.

The world is moving towards a low-carbon future, with clean energy now the cheapest source of electricity. But the pace of change needs to pick up. Globally, we must halve emissions over the next decade alone if we are to meet the goals of the Paris agreement – which aims to keep global temperature rises well below 2C and closer to 1.5C. That means taking action today.

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UK's Cop26 president calls for world to get on track to hit net zero by 2050

The world must be put on a path to reaching net zero by 2050 if the goal of holding global temperature rises below 1.5C is to be kept within reach, the UK host of this year’s climate talks has said.

Alok Sharma, the president of the UN Cop26 climate summit, said that for the talks in Glasgow in November to be judged a success, governments must urgently set out their targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade including announcing an end to new coal power plants and commitments to phase out existing ones. Sharma is also urging countries to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

The UK’s role as host will be pivotal in the talks, seen as one of the last chances to get on track to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to stay below 1.5C. Current commitments would lead to a rise of more than 3C, which scientists say would be catastrophic.

Writing in the Guardian, Sharma set out the UK’s aims as host for the first time. He wrote: “I want to put the world on a path to reach net zero by the middle of the century, which is essential to keeping 1.5C within reach. Today’s global targets for 2030 are nowhere near enough to meet the Paris agreement temperature goal. So the UK is using the Cop26 presidency to urge all countries to set 2030 emissions reductions targets that put us on a path to net zero.”

The UK’s four goals for Cop26 are:

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VW Announces New Battery Tech, End Of Combustion Engines For Audi

23 September 2019, Lower Saxony, Salzgitter: A MEB battery system of an electric car Volkswagen ID.3 ... [+] is installed in the VW plant Salzgitter. Volkswagen has started producing its own battery cells for electric cars. VW opened a pilot production facility for small series at its Salzgitter plant. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa (Photo by Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

This past week, Volkswagen Group brand Audi confirmed an end to the development of new combustion engines, as well as an overarching strategy to give the company an edge in the fierce battle for electric vehicle (EV) marketshare. The future for automakers is all about batteries: lowering costs, improving performance, and increasing production capacity.

Besides their visionary CEO Elon Musk, Tesla’s TSLA greatest advantage over competitors is its advanced batteries and accompanying software. Not only are the packs they utilize are more cost efficient than those used by rivals, Tesla has also invested billions into Gigafactories with a goal of producing more than 60% of the world’s supply of lithium-ion batteries.

It’s no surprise that the world’s second largest carmaker is racing catch up. Volkswagen made its strategy clear to investors at a March 15th event they dubbed Power Day. As early as 2023, VW plans to introduce new “unified” prismatic batteries cells to achieve a maximum of 50% cost savings, with the goal of driving costs down to under $100 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by the end of the decade. This sweet spot in the internal combustion engine versus battery competition will make EVs cheaper than gasoline-powered cars. It’s no surprise plenty of research is going into optimal battery designs.

For the potential maximum of 50% savings, VW attributes 15% to the cell design, 20% to the less-costly cathode/anode material mix, 10% to production process, and 5% to the battery-system “concept” itself. Success would put VW EVs into cost parity with traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. It remains to be seen if this new design will perform as expected.

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