Two articles, from MyEuropeandream.blogspot.com that made sense to be published here also. They are about the future of the electric cares and the climate fight at all. I put them unshortened, because I think they are rather interesting. No comments needed, so none offered :)
Electric cars 'vehicles of the future', says WWF
Plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars can offer a sustainable transportation system for Europe but barriers to the development of these "superior technologies", including subsidies to the oil sector, must first come to an end, says the green NGO.
In a bid to reduce the transport sector's oil dependency and its contribution to air pollution and climate change, the Commission last February proposed making it compulsory for vehicle manufacturers to cut average emissions from new cars to 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre through vehicle-technology improvements. A further 10g/km reduction is expected to come from improvements in other areas including tyres, fuels and eco-driving (see LinksDossier on Cars & CO2).
In March 2007, EU leaders also committed to raising the share of biofuels in transport from current levels of 2% to 10% by 2020. However, this biofuels goal has since been widely criticised for the potentially disastrous consequences it could have on food prices and the environment (see LinksDossier on Biofuels).
Yet, the Commission views biofuels as the only currently viable green alternative to oil. Other options, including hydrogen and fuel cells, but especially electric plug-ins, are still considered solutions for the distant future (see LinksDossier on Alternative Fuels).
Electric vehicles are not new but have been largely neglected in the past due to their high cost, safety shortages and the difficulty of making them run on long distances.
But as oil prices soar and regulators tighten greenhouse gas emission and fuel efficiency standards, car manufacturers are starting to invest in plug-in electric technologies.
While makers of smaller vehicles, such as Renault, Peugeot-Citroën or Fiat have already been working on marketing electric models for years, manufacturers of larger, traditionally luxury models, such as BMW or Mercedes, are now also voicing interest in the technology.
The idea is that an electric "zero emissions" model could help them bring down the average carbon dioxide emissions of their entire fleet to the 130g/km limit that the Commission is seeking to impose by 2012.
According to the WWF report, the link between fossil fuels and transportation, which has been "locked in" for the past century due to infrastructural developments and the influence of large oil companies and automotive manufacturers, has to be broken.
"Automotive transport is ripe for transformational change," it claims, and this cannot be achieved solely by finding new sources of carbonaceous material to liquefy, it says, warning that hydrogen or biofuels could do as much environmental damage as crude oil from conventional wells.
Instead, it says, the future lies in battery electric cars, which, though "relatively immature", can be "over 60% more energy efficient than today's conventional ICEV (internal combustion engined vehicles), across the entire plant-to-wheels life-cycle".
What's more, the increased efficiency of the electric powertrain occurs whichever source of energy (crude oil, natural gas, coal or biomass) is used to power the grid it uses, the study finds.
But it stresses that this will not be possible without strong policies "to dismantle market barriers to superior technologies, and to remove hidden and overt subsidies which perpetuate the liquids paradigm at the expense of competition".
It also recommends that all vehicles should be subject to energy labelling and efficiency improvement requirements similar to any other energy-consuming appliance. For instance, it says liquid-based measures of fuel economy (litres per 100km) should be replaced with technology-neutral indicators of energy consumed per kilometre.
Lastly, it says, incentives are needed to encourage customers to make the right choices, including exemptions from tolls or charging schemes or providing 'green car' drivers with access to priority lanes.
Car manufacturers say they are not against the introduction of alternative technologies, pointing to the fact that electric cars have been available for more than a decade. But, they stress that many highly CO2-efficient cars have met with very low demand.
ACEA Director of Environment and Economics Rolf Stromberger agreed that the challenge is "to develop a stage of technical maturity which is acceptable for the customer – as they do not accept comfort deficits – and, if possible, with no additional costs compared to existing technologies".
Technical challenges linked to heavy and large batteries, which increase weight and create space and durability problems must also be resolved, Stromberger told EurActiv.
He nevertheless believes that electric vehicles are "one option for future mobility and they will find their market". But this, he believes, is likely to remain confined to "certain utilisation behaviours" such as short distance travelling, where infrastructure to recharge the batteries can be made available.
While he agrees that electric vehicles can have higher efficiencies compared to conventional internal combustion engines, he insists that general statements cannot be made because it depends which car type you compare and how the fuel is produced. " source
MEPs highlight citizens' role in climate change
The European Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate Change has warned that current climate change mitigation policies are insufficient and criticised the various "scientifically unsubstantiated efforts" to discredit studies of its causes and effects.
The committee's draft interim reportPdf" src="http://www.euractiv.com/css/icons/pdficon.gif" height="14" width="14"> on the scientific facts of climate change, adopted on 1 April 2008, insists that current scientific knowledge about climate change and the causes of global warming is sufficient to trigger urgent political action to prepare for "adaptation to unavoidable climate change".
MEPs acknowledge that scientific progress has always been marked by uncertainties, but condemn efforts to describe results of scientific research into the causes and effects of climate change as "doubtful, uncertain or questionable". Thus the committee members think that further research aimed at better understanding global warming is essential for responsible decision-making.
The committee members agree that existing climate change mitigation policies and other sustainable development practices are not sufficient to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that "nearly all member states are making good or even excellent progress" regarding their individual EU burden-sharing targets.
MEPs believe that scientific evidence of humanity's impact on the climate must be better communicated to raise public awareness and gain public support for political measures to reduce carbon emissions. They also think that educational programmes to communicate the reasons behind global warming should support individual lifestyle changes. But lifestyle changes cannot be imposed by political decisions, the MEPs note.
The Temporary Committee's interim report, scheduled for adoption in plenary in May 2008, only addresses the impact of climate change based on scientific evidence. The committee's final report, due to voted upon in plenary in early 2009, will formulate proposals on the EU's future integrated policy on climate change.The committee already notes that an integrated policy must not be limited to the environmental impacts of global warming. Not just energy, industry or transport policies but also areas such as agriculture, international trade and security will be affected by global warming, it stresses. source