Global environmental challenges
Can semantics help save the planet?
A showdown between leaders of Chevron Corp and the Sierra Club on Wednesday night revealed a number of shared beliefs between the two California institutions, particularly about the need for a transparent way of pricing carbon.
The debate at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on Wednesday night pitted Chevron CEO David O’Reilly against Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, and both agreed that limiting carbon emissions should involve some sort of levy imposed by the government – if only there was a word for such a thing.
“It would be much cleaner if there was a transparent cost on carbon that one could see,” O’Reilly said.
The moderator suggested that was a ‘tax’. “Nobody wants to talk about it,” O’Reilly replied.
Given all the electricity needed to get hydrogen compressed and ready for the tank, that juice will need to come from solar, wind or (whisper it) nuclear power to get the fuel cells under the hood nearer to zero carbon output over the fuel’s ”life-cycle.” According to a Volkswagen manager developing the technology, the current mix of power generated on the U.S. grid is still too dirty.
Volkswagen’s U.S. chief ruffled some entrepreneurial feathers on Thursday when he told a group of business school students at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management that it will be 35 years before electric cars make up a significant portion of the world’s auto market.
During his prepared remarks, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Stefan Jacoby outlined the German automaker’s view that fossil fuels and traditional combustion engines will be with us for many years to come. VW, however, is committed to making them vastly more fuel efficient. The company is also investing heavily in so-called clean diesel technology, which reduces tailpipe emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases while still giving cars their “fun-to-drive” pep.
The car is king in Southern California, so what better place for stressed out auto executives to blow off some steam and take a break from their considerable recent troubles?
That’s exactly what they did this week at the Los Angeles auto show, where many car manufacturers laid out plans for electric, fuel cell and diesel cars that they say are key to reviving the ailing industry.