Monday, 21 November 2016

How will US President-elect Trump react to GHG?

‘Global warming is a Chinese hoax designed to weaken US manufacturing’, according to US President-elect Donald Trump.  Alan Bunting asks: So can we expect the incoming Republican administration to scrap all greenhouse gas (GHG) control legislation?

GHG emissions are, for diesel- and gasoline-engined vehicles, directly linked to fuel consumption and there are now, in the US, separate energy conservation rules laid down by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding fuel usage.
So even if the current and proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) CO2 emission standards for cars and commercial vehicles on US roads were abandoned, the parallel NHTSA requirements would achieve effectively the same goals.     
In any case, regardless of legislation, ongoing competition between vehicle makers focussing on fuel economy will ensure a continuing advance in fuel efficiency technologies.
Those technologies must include complete or partial powertrain electrification, including different levels of hybridisation, as well as hydrogen-fed fuel cells. They all bring undoubted air-quality benefits, reducing the oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate pollutants associated with diesels and equivalent gasoline engine emissions.
But the jury is still out on the extent of GHG reduction to be expected from electrified drivelines and fuel cells, relying as they do on external electric power.  Even the simplest (non-plug-in) hybrid requires large energy in-put at the manufacturing stage.
Unless and until all coal-, gas- and oil-fired power stations are superseded by nuclear installations, solar panel or wind ‘farms’, there will be a GHG penalty, giving Trump’s environmental advisers fuel for thought.      


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