United States: antipollution standards for cars will be relaxed

The Trump administration's decision Monday to soften the upcoming pollution standards for passenger cars threatens to spark a political and legal battle with California, which in turn intends to maintain more ambitious goals.

Nicknamed "CAFE" (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), the standards for the period 2022-2025 had been set by the previous Democratic Administration of Barack Obama shortly before the arrival of Republican Donald Trump at the White House.

They provided for gradual increases in vehicle range to reach a goal of 54.5 miles per gallon of gasoline (4.32 liters per hundred kilometers) in 2025.

"The Obama administration's conclusions were wrong", Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Scott Pruitt said in a statement Monday.

"Under the Obama administration, the process of evaluating standards was was conducted too quickly for political reasons and was based on references that did not correspond to reality, setting too high standards. "

" The California Exemption is currently under way. EPA review, "adds the agency's news release.

California can, through an exemption, set even tougher standards for the rest of the country, which it has been doing for many years. decades, prompting automakers to adapt to his own rather than federal standards to be able to sell their cars.

Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General, a traditionally democratic state, immediately reacted to the announcement of the EPA, saying in a statement that "the Trump administration's offensive against car pollution standards endangers our ability to protect the health of our children, combat climate change and allow Americans save money. "

" We are ready to go to court to preserve these essential standards and to respond to the war declared by the administration against the environment ", he said.

– National Standards –

"Federalism does not mean that a state can dictate standards for the rest of the country," said Pruitt. "It is in our interest to have national standards and we will work with all states, including California, to achieve this," he said.

The US president announced in the months that have following his arrival at the White House in January 2017, he would ask the EPA to review the standards established for the period 2022-2025 with a view to reviewing them.

This decision was part of his intention to dismantle the most of the "climate plan" established by his predecessor. Trump also decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal, saying it harms US economic interests.

The Automotive Alliance, which brings together the 12 largest manufacturers in the states The United States has not responded directly to the EPA's decision but has stated on its website that it has already largely achieved the targets set by the Paris Agreements on automobile pollution.

Standards CAFE are not established by car but for the entire range of each manufacturer. That is to say that, for each model consuming a lot of gasoline, it must also include a model with little or no fuel consumption (like electric cars) and it is the average that must meet the standard.

The Alliance claims that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are already 21% lower for new cars sold in the United States than they were in 2005 for a target of 26% to 28%. % fixed by the Paris Agreement

But the standards established for the United States alone for the period 2022-2025 would have brought this reduction to 50%, underlines the alliance.

With the decline in gasoline prices in recent years, US consumers have started to buy bigger and more polluting vehicles, SUVs (city 4x4s) and pickups now representing more than 60% of the market.

Despite Trump, part of the United States is fighting to honor the climate goals

Donald Trump continues the demolition of environmental regulations inherited from Barack Obama. This does not prevent proponents of the Paris agreement, of which the United States is the only country left, to believe that America will meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The last Butt is about the Obama Administration's stringent 2012 regulations on fuel consumption and the pollution of vehicles on sale in the United States. According to the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by a friend of fossil fuels, Scott Pruitt, will formally propose to revisit these standards.

This action adds to the construction site launched in the fall by the same EPA to cancel the heavy regulation on power plants, the Clean Power Plan. Already attacked in court, this plan, a pillar of Barack Obama's climate policy, was to apply in 2022 and would have pushed for the closure of many polluting coal plants. The Trump administration wants to bury it for good.

These and other regulations were the bricks of Barack Obama's commitment in 2015 to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. The objective then set, compared to that of the European Union, was already very modest. Without these tools, he is clearly in danger.

But America is a decentralized and politically divided country. States like California and New York are ruled by Democrats horrified by the climate vision of the Republican President.

This is why the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, is the latest to have confided his " hope "that the United States reaches its former commitments, despite the hostility of the federal government."

– Difficult to predict –

Twenty of the 50 states, 100 cities and 1,000 companies have already set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to America's Pledge, an initiative launched by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown

 Michal Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy United for Cities and Climate Change, March 22, 2018 in Brussels (Belgium) (AFP - Ludovic MARIN)

Michal Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change March 22, 2018 in Brussels (Belgium) (AFP – Ludovic MARIN)

California alone emits about as much greenhouse gas emissions as France, and has set reduction targets as well. ambitious that the European Union by 2030 (-40% compared to 1990).

But the big question is whether these jurisdictions, as voluntarist as they may be, will be able to completely replace the Federal State

"I would not say it is impossible, but it is unlikely that the United States can do it without federal action," says Marc Hafstead, an economist at the Resources for the Future Institute, AFP

According to America's Pledge, the states and cities that support the Paris Agreement represent only 35% of the country's emissions. The biggest polluter of the country, Texas, is not one of them.

The non-federal jurisdictions could only achieve half of the original goal, estimated last September the NewClimate Institute. [19659002] A more precise figure will be published by America's Pledge in September at the World Summit for Climate Action held in San Francisco.

 California Governor Jerry Brown, Bonn, Germany, November 11, 2017 at COP23 (AFP / Archives - PATRIK STOLLARZ)

California Governor Jerry Brown, in Bonn, Germany, November 11, 2017 at COP23 (AFP / Archives – PATRIK STOLLARZ)

For now, warns Michelle Manion, one of the chief economists writing this report, "if we look only at the commitments of states and cities, we will not reach the goal."

"We are going in the right direction, but I can not tell you where we will be in 2025, "says the W economist orld Resources Institute at AFP, warning that technological innovations could completely change the game.

Nobody imagined, ten years ago, that natural gas prices would fall as much as they have done, she recalls. Or that the cost of solar panels would fall by 70% in seven years.

What matters, according to her, is that states continue to encourage the transition to a low-carbon economy, whether through the installation of electric charging stations or by new building standards.

The case of environmental standards for vehicles, which the Trump administration wants to soften, is a good example, she says. If California and the ten states in the north-east of the country, which account for some 40% of the light-duty vehicle market, continue to impose their own stringent regulations, it is likely that car manufacturers will resign themselves to keeping standards higher, instead of creating two types of cars for the American market.

Between China and the United States, cyberwar is declared

Xi Jinping wants to make China "a cyber-superpower" capable, within a decade, of being the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, semiconductors and 5G mobile networks . The big American bosses have something to worry about: the 800 million Chinese Internet users represent a huge store of personal data, essential raw material for services based on AI. US national security officials fear that China will end up equating the military capabilities of the United States and undermine the industries on which these capabilities are based.

Blocking Mergers …

On March 12, Trump administration was blocking the hostile bid of Broadcom semiconductor maker, partly based in Singapore, on US wireless technology company Qualcomm. The Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) recommended this measure. He feared that the planned merger would allow Chinese companies to become the leading suppliers of hardware for 5G networks. The ban on this merger may be just the first step in what the US administration sees as a necessary counterattack. Because China has become a major global player in these sectors.

This is a huge challenge for the United States. China has an impressive technology sector, with companies like DJI, the world's largest manufacturer of drones, or the Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent including mobile payment systems, Alipay and WeChat Pay, have almost done away with cash on the east coast of China. The country also benefits from a large and high skilled workforce, with 4.6 million newly graduated engineers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A huge Chinese push in these sectors is likely.

Especially as Beijing intends to bring together companies, customers and government agencies in a "solid governance", ie build a techno system that discourages users to use other technologies than his. Access control is the key to protecting this meadow. Thus, foreign companies wishing to sell their products in China must undergo six safety studies. The Chinese Communist Party has acquired shares in some high-tech companies. How to recall the hold of power and let it be known that the company enjoys an official blessing.

And then, there is the most coveted fruit of these square squares: personal data. Far from being protected in China, they are copiously used by the State. The country has 176 million surveillance cameras, many of which have face recognition systems. The widespread collection of data makes it possible to attribute to individuals a "social note". A bad rating is reflected, for example, in the ban on taking the train or plane. The Chinese techno-system hardly resembles Western systems. It is more integrated and more tightly controlled by the government. China would like to export this type of model abroad. It has thus appropriated 40% of the shares of the mobile market in Africa. If she is in the lead in 5G, she could win other more lucrative global markets and expand her influence. As for cloud computing, the boss of Alibaba has recently promised to surpass Amazon as the first supplier of the sector.

… or promote trade?

Have, in high technology, a rival that does not is not an ally is bad news for the United States. China is far from fairplay and the desire to punish it should not be surprising. But blocking industrial mergers and introducing tariffs are inefficient and counter-productive measures. The United States should instead seek to strengthen its technosystem by partnering with Europe, Japan and Korea to advance open standards. They need to build a shared digital infrastructure, for example with common data bases for innovations such as autonomous vehicles. And they must rediscover what made their success in technology: investing in research and welcoming highly skilled immigrants. Above all, they must preserve openness, which favors exchanges. Enabling people and knowledge to circulate is the best way to make Western technosystems gain a foothold in China

Like any other country, America must take the necessary steps to protect its digital infrastructure. But this can be done without turning its back on the openness that has helped to create the technology that its citizens, and those in the majority of the rest of the world, enjoy today.

The United States can achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement, according to the UN

Who believed it? The United States are on track to achieve the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement said the Secretary General of the UN ]. And despite the June 2017 decision of the US President to withdraw from this agreement. Antonio Guterres announced the good news to the press on March 29, 2018. "There are hopes that regardless of the government's position, the United States could be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as that country ".

US heavyweights committed to the climate

At the time of the Obama administration, the United States pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases from 26% to 28% by 2025 (compared to 2005). In June 2017, Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement sparked an international outcry as well as in his country. Cities, companies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in American society have responded and launched the movement " We are still in" "we are still here ". Heavyweights like Tesla Facebook Allianz pledged to honor the objectives decreed in the French capital. They announce today represent 127 million Americans and more than 6 billion euros of the economy of the country.

"We have observed in the cities, and we have seen in many states a very strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, so that some indications are even moving in a better direction than was the case recently. "," said Mr. Guterres. He did not, however, give more figures. The Paris Agreement on the climate was the culmination of COP21 in December 2015. After intense negotiations, nearly 200 countries and organizations had agreed to reduce their carbon emissions. The goal was not to exceed an increase in the average temperature of the planet of 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels.

President Turning Back

The UN boss warned, however, that greater efforts were needed to achieve this goal in 2020. Climate change is "the most systemic threat to the species ", he warned, adding that recent data on extreme weather events have shown that " 2017 was (a year) full of climate chaos ". A warning that will probably remain a dead letter to the White House: according to an article of New York Times the Trump administration is preparing to make a gesture in favor of the automobile industry in terms of regulation. The New York daily reported the anonymous testimony of a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to her, the administration Trump intends to relax the regulation of gas emissions and diesel savings.

In June 2017, the US president justified his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement by calling it "19459010" "bad agreement" for the country's economy. If some hope that his versatility will make him reconsider his decision, the effective exit of the United States is not for now. A signatory may notify his departure only "at the expiration of three years from the date of entry into force of this Agreement" specifies Article 28 of the text . He must then wait another year before the withdrawal becomes effective. The United States should leave the agreement in November 2020, the full presidential campaign. In the meantime, the UN Secretary-General plans to hold a major summit to take stock of progress in implementing the climate agreement. The presence of the American president is more than uncertain.

States Give Indication of Willingness to Speak with North Korea

The United States gives an indication of a new willingness to talk to North Korea, but it is still difficult to estimate the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula in the near future.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday (19/2) he intends to keep the channels of communication open with North Korea and is listening if there is any indication that Kim Jong-un's government is ready to speak.

Changes in attitude coming from President Donald Trump's government towards support for unconditional exploratory talks with Pyongyang , and away from discussions about the deterrent attacks against North Korea, has emerged in response to the concerted concerted Olympic cooperation and negotiated by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

See also: US Continues to Wear Maximum Pressure Against North Korea

North Korea's consent to participating in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea has been accompanied by a stoppage of North Korea's intensive efforts in the development of intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles (ICBM) that could strike the American mainland.

The United States participated in tension reduction efforts by suspending joint military exercises with Korea South until after the Olympics ended.

US, South Korea postpone Military Training after the Winter Olympics

After leading the American Olympic delegation in South Korea, American Vice President Mike Pence also said Americans might be open to unofficial talks, but stressed the US would continue to increase sanctions against North Korea until Pyongyang approved official talks to stop North Korea's nuclear program in return. [gp]