EarthLink – News
World thirst for oil keeps growing, with SUVs a key culprit
By ANGELA CHARLTON 07:08 EST
PARIS (AP) — The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040 — and consumers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs is a big reason why.
Mounting demand for plastic is another factor. So is increasing plane travel. And the upcoming population boom in cities across Africa and Asia.
All this is according to an important global industry forecast released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency that is used as guidance by oil companies and governments. This year, amid growing pressure from young activists like Greta Thunberg and others for tougher action on emissions, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook took a stronger-than-usual stand on climate change.
It celebrates a growing boom in solar and wind power, and urges governments to work together on changing the way we fuel our lives. And it singles out gas-guzzling SUVs for criticism.
Growing demand for SUVs in the U.S, China, Europe and elsewhere could negate all the environmental benefits of the increased use of electric cars, the report says. Because of their size, SUVs are harder to electrify than smaller vehicles.
SUVs “were the second biggest reason for global emissions growth in last 10 years, after the power sector and more than all the industrial sectors put together,” IEA director Fatih Birol told reporters in Paris on Wednesday.
Energy-intensive SUVs and pickup trucks account for about two-thirds of car sales in the U.S. and only about a third in the EU, though they are steadily growing in demand in Europe too, according to industry reports. Worldwide, about 42% of cars sold last year were SUVs, Birol said.
The World Energy Outlook, which focuses on forecasting energy needs over the next 20 years, is increasingly important to governments because of its relevance to climate policy.
Environmental advocates say the IEA still isn’t doing enough to encourage renewable energy. Oil Change International notably criticized the IEA’s “over-reliance” on natural gas as a replacement for coal, saying that will lead to “climate chaos” because gas too contributes to emissions.
As flooding in Venice hit the second-highest level ever this week, inundating St. Mark’s Cathedral and grounding gondolas, the city’s mayor blamed climate change. Scientists say it’s difficult to pin a single such event on climate change, but that increasingly extreme weather events worldwide are linked to human-caused emissions.
The IEA said that almost 20% of the growth in last year’s global energy use was “due to hotter summers pushing up demand for cooling and cold snaps leading to higher heating needs.”
Based on current emissions promises by governments, the IEA forecast global oil demand of 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040, up from 96.9 million last year. Global oil demand is due to slow in the 2030s, and coal use to shrink slightly.
Emissions will continue to rise, if more slowly than today, and won’t peak before 2040.
The U.S. is central to whatever happens next. U.S. consumers and businesses were a leading source of growing oil demand last year, the IEA says. Also, the U.S. will account for 85% of the increase in global oil production by 2030, thanks to the shale boom.
Asked about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, Birol said: “as a global issue, it’s important to have concerted efforts to address climate change.”
The report lays out a more ambitious forecast if governments are to meet the goals in the 2015 U.N. climate accord.
That would require a big boost in wind and solar power, the IEA says, and a new push for energy efficiency, which has slowed in recent years.
The more ambitious scenario would also require work on new coal plants in Asia to capture their emissions, or closing them early.
All that would lead to a big drop in oil demand — with repercussions for oil-producing countries that depend heavily on hydrocarbon income.
The report came as activist Greta Thunberg announced she will return to Europe soon from North America on a catamaran that leaves nearly no carbon footprint, part of effort to call global attention to individuals’ impact on climate change.
While the IEA said such movements and individual decisions by companies and investors “can make a major difference,” it insisted that “Governments must take the lead… the greatest capacity to shape our energy destiny lies with governments.”
Follow AP’s full coverage of climate change issues at https://www.apnews.com/Climate
EarthLink – News
Tesla to build factory in Germany after subsidies announced
By GEIR MOULSON 12:35 EST
BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Wednesday hailed Tesla’s decision to build its first European factory in the country, days after the government said it would boost subsidies for buyers of electric cars.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during an awards ceremony in the German capital Tuesday evening that “we’ve decided to put the Tesla Gigafactory Europe in the Berlin area.”
The company will also set up an engineering and design center in Berlin, Musk said. He wrote on Twitter that the new plant “will build batteries, powertrains & vehicles, starting with Model Y.”
The Model Y is a small SUV scheduled to go on sale in the fall of 2020. It will start at $39,000 (35,400 euros) with a range of 230 miles (370 kilometers) per charge.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier called the announcement a “glorious success” for the country’s attractiveness to the auto industry, especially in the race to develop and produce electric cars and batteries.
Altmaier said there had been competition for the plant among European countries in recent months, but denied that the government had offered any financial support to Tesla.
“So far, subsidies haven’t been discussed,” he told reporters in Berlin. “It’s clear that Tesla will be treated the same way as all other automobile companies if it invests in Germany and creates jobs here.”
In an interview with British publication Auto Express, Musk said uncertainty over Britain’s planned exit from the European Union — and thereby the world’s biggest trading bloc — had been a factor in not building the new plant there.
“Brexit made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK,” Musk was Quote: d as saying.
Tesla did not respond to requests to elaborate on how Brexit helped swing it for Berlin, but German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that “we see in it proof of trust in Germany as a location for innovation.”
Tesla’s announcement comes just a week after German officials and auto industry leaders agreed to increase by half the existing government incentives for electric vehicles with a list price of up to 40,000 euros ($44,500) — an incentive Tesla can expect to profit from indirectly.
The subsidy will also be extended from the end of 2020 currently to the end of 2025, and the government and industry agreed to aim for 50,000 publicly accessible charging stations nationwide by 2022.
Musk said that the plan is for the factory to be built near Berlin’s new airport, which is located just outside the city limits in neighboring Brandenburg state and currently slated to open next year after years of delays.
“We definitely need to move faster than the airport, that’s for sure,” Musk said.
Germany, home to some of the world’s biggest automakers, has been overtaken by the United States, China and some European neighbors in the adoption of electric vehicles.
In July, Tesla announced plans to build its third Gigafactory — the first outside the U.S. — in Shanghai.
German automaker Volkswagen, which last week began mass production of its ID.3 electric car, welcomed rival Tesla’s decision to build the factory on its home turf.
“I’m happy that Elon is, let’s say, pulling us, but I think the German industry is really now strongly investing,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, speaking alongside Musk at Tuesday’s event. “And we will keep you alert.”
Auto industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer said additional competition could benefit German automakers.
“This is good news for VW, Daimler and BMW,” said Dudenhoeffer, who heads the Center Automotive Research.
Frank Jordans and David Rising contributed to this story.
EarthLink – News
Man charged in Vegas massacre ammunition case changing plea
By KEN RITTER | Wed, November 13, 2019 12:57 EST
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man plans to change his not guilty plea in a federal case alleging he illegally manufactured bullets sold to the gunman who carried out the Las Vegas Strip massacre, records and attorneys said.
A hearing for Douglas Haig is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Las Vegas, according to a notice posted Tuesday.
Haig, 56, is not accused of a direct role in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Haig’s attorney, Marc Victor, and Trisha Young, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich, declined to say what crime Haig will admit or what sentence he’s expected to face.
The aerospace engineer from Mesa, Arizona, pleaded not guilty and remained free without posting bond following his indictment in August 2018 on a manufacturing ammunition without a license charge. He has been prohibited from possessing guns and ammunition.
Authorities said Haig’s fingerprints were found on unfired tracer and armor-piercing bullets in the high-rise hotel suite from which shooter Stephen Paddock rained gunfire into an open-air concert crowd before killing himself.
Ammunition in the room also bore tool marks consistent with Haig’s reloading equipment, prosecutors said, and Haig’s address was on a box that police found near Paddock’s body.
Haig said after his name became public that he didn’t notice anything suspicious when he sold hundreds of rounds of ammunition to Paddock.
Victor argued that as the only person to face a criminal charge following the shooting, Haig could not get a fair trial before a jury drawn from the trauma-scarred Las Vegas community.
But the defense attorney lost bids to move the trial to another venue, to draw jurors from throughout Nevada, or to have the case heard by the judge instead of a jury.
EarthLink – News
Prosecutor: Messages show teen plotted SC school shooting
By JEFFREY COLLINS 06:17 EST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Prosecutors who want a teen to serve a lifelong prison sentence for killing a first-grader on a South Carolina school playground showed a judge cellphone videos and messages Tuesday that they say demonstrate he planned the crime.
Jesse Osborne pleaded guilty last year to two counts of murder for killing the boy at Townville Elementary School and shooting his father three times in the head so he could steal a pickup truck to get to his old school in September 2016.
The judge in Anderson County is deciding Osborne’s sentence. The now 17-year-old, who was 14 at the time of the slayings, faces anywhere from 30 years to life without parole.
Judge Lawton McIntosh will consider factors such as Osborne’s age and maturity at the time of the crime; his family and home environment; the circumstances of the crime; whether he knew his rights and could deal with police and prosecutors; and the possibility of rehabilitation.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory or arbitrary life sentences for teens who commit serious crimes requires the special hearing .
Prosecutors opened the hearing with more than 1,000 pages of Instagram and Skype messages, some discovered after a hearing where a judge decided he could be tried as an adult in February 2018.
Osborne’s online group, which called itself “Project Rainbow,” studied school shootings and encouraged each other to attack schools. They debated whether it was better to shoot at an elementary school or middle school, settling on the elementary school because there was no on-campus police officer.
Other videos had Osborne showing the handgun in his father’s nightstand that he would use in the killings and Osborne combing his hair three hours before the elementary school shooting, saying “got to have your hair straight when you’re going to shoot up a place. Got to look fabulous.”
Osborne kept up a Skype video call with members of the group open as he crashed his father’s truck into a fence at the elementary school he once attended and fired at children waiting to go back inside. Jacob Hall , 6, bled to death from a wound to his leg.
“I can’t stop hearing gunshots and the kids screaming and Jesse screaming. I’m freaking out,” one girl typed into the Skype chat according to testimony from Anderson County Sheriff’s detective McKindra Bibb who analyzed the cellphone.
Osborne also did internet searches on school shootings in places like Columbine, Colorado; Sandy Hook, Connecticut; and Virginia Tech. He kept on his cellphone a screen shot of a collage of some of the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, Bibb said.
Before the shooting, Osborne told the group on Skype “god, if I get over 70 kills, I’ll be satisfied,” Bibb testified.
Videos on Osborne’s phone included one taken by his mother of him shooting a semi-automatic rifle while family members watched and a video he took of him firing plastic pellets at dogs.
A jail detective testified officials found a hole in the wall of Osborne’s cell last month and charged him with escape. Under cross-examination, Nathan Mitchell said Osborne knew his cell had a camera in it and the 9-inch (23-centimeter) hole was in a wall that the teen likely knew led to the cell next door
“You could stick a head into it,” Mitchell said. “But you wouldn’t get very far.”
In earlier hearings, defense attorney Frank Eppes suggested Osborne was bullied by other children and had a drunk, uncaring father and a poor home life.
Eppes has also said Osborne has done well in the structured environment of the juvenile prison, is remorseful about the killings and deserves a second chance even if he’s middle-aged when he’s released from prison.
The one defense witness Tuesday was Jean Claycomb, part of a volunteer program that ministers to teens in jail.
Claycomb followed up on testimony from Osborne’s teachers in jail who said he has earned his high school diploma, was a good student and took a big interest in the Bible and Christianity after a judge ruled he could be tried as an adult in February 2018. If tried as a juvenile, Osborne could have only been kept in jail until he turned 21.
After that decision, Osborne “seemed to take responsibility for what he had done and really express remorse for what he had done. That impressed me a great deal,” Claycomb said.
Osborne also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder. Two other students and a teacher suffered minor injuries in the school shooting.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP .
EarthLink – News
Japan emperor’s harvest rite is his 1st communion with gods
BY MARI YAMAGUCHI 07:14 EST
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Emperor Naruhito will perform a secretive and controversial ritual Thursday, a once-in-a-reign event to give thanks for good harvests, pray for the peace and safety of the nation and play host to his family’s ancestral gods.
Or at least that’s what experts and officials say.
The Daijosai, or great thanksgiving festival, the most important succession ritual that an emperor performs, is closed to the public, even as taxpayer money funds it.
It has drawn criticism as a throwback to Japan’s authoritarian past and as a colossal waste of money, and provoked speculation the emperor is spending the night on a bed with a goddess.
Here’s a look at the significance of the ritual and what people are saying about it:
FIRST COMMUNION WITH GODS
Daijosai marks the emperor’s first communion with the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, the monarchy’s mythological ancestor, and with other gods of Shinto, the religion of the imperial family. Harvest rituals originated in Japan’s ancient rice growing culture from around the 7th century, historians say.
The two-part ritual, each one lasting a few hours, begins Thursday evening. Naruhito, after purifying himself and donning a white robe, will enter the Yukiden, one of two main halls at a newly prepared, and very expensive, shrine complex inside his palace. Only he can enter the innermost sanctum to present harvested rice, sake, vegetables, seafood and local produce from around the country to the goddess and gods.
Naruhito will offer arcane prayers for peace and bountiful harvests, then partake of the offerings in a symbolic communion. After a short break, he will perform the other ritual at another main hall, the Sukiden.
ONE NIGHT, $18 MILLION SHRINE
The venue, Daijokyu, is a one-off shrine complex of about 30 structures in various sizes, including the two main halls, all of which will be demolished afterward. The shrine complex alone costs about 2 billion yen ($18 million), and the whole ritual will total 2.9 billion yen ($27 million).
It’s all funded by the government.
The ritual shrank when Japan was ruled by warlords and the monarchy had little money and power. There was a 200-year hiatus before it was restored during the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled from the 17th to the 19th century.
The ritual and the shrine were expanded when the pre-World War II government deified the emperor and used his status to drive Japanese aggression. The event has not been scaled down even after the emperor became a mere symbol, with no political power, under the postwar constitution, and there’s been little public debate about the use of taxpayer money for the highly religious and secretive event.
Keiko Hongo, a University of Tokyo historian who was invited to speak before a government committee on the ritual, said officials wanted to cut costs of other events but not the Daijosai.
WHAT’S THE BED FOR?
There’s speculation about many aspects of the ritual, but especially about the presence of a bed in the main hall, and what it might be used for.
Some experts believe the emperor uses it to sleep with the sun goddess to gain divinity. Others say it’s for the goddess to rest and that it’s not even touched by the emperor.
“The so-called bed, as we understand it, is a sacred seat for the imperial ancestor to rest,” then-Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said before the Daijosai in 1990 was performed by former Emperor Akihito, the current emperor’s father.
Officials have denied that the emperor uses the bed to gain divinity.
RELIGION AND STATE
The government’s funding of the highly religious rite remains contentious.
A group of more than 200 people filed a lawsuit against the government last year, saying the ritual violates the constitutional separation of state and religion. The wartime government turned Shinto into a fascist ideology to promote its colonial aggression.
Abe’s government says even though the rite is too religious to be considered an official duty of the emperor, it is an “extremely important” succession ritual for the country’s hereditary monarchy written in the constitution and therefore it serves the public interest and deserves state funding. The cost is paid in the name of “palace expenses,” which ordinarily cover maintenance and ceremonial spending by the palace, following a precedent set by the government at the time of the earlier event.
“There seems to be a political intention to resist (calls to stop funding the ritual) because of a sense of nostalgia for the (prewar) era,” Takeshi Hara, a monarchy expert at the Open University of Japan, told a TBS radio talk show this week.
Abe’s government wants the emperor to be a more authoritative figure, as he was before the end of World War II.
Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Akishino, says he is against using public money for the ritual and that it’s questionable under a constitution that separates religion and state.
“It’s a royal family event, and it is highly religious,” Akishino said last year. The palace budget for the Imperial family’s private activities, including religious ones, was about one-seventh of the amount needed for the event. “I think the Daijosai should be held … by making it an affordable ceremony.”
His view was quickly dismissed by the government and conservatives, but widely welcomed by some palace watchers and legal experts. They say it’s doable because the emperor already performs a regular annual harvest ritual in November at the palace’s existing shrines.
Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mariyamaguchi