Bordering on a carbon tax, 1,001 Voices of Climate & Bolt on fire

The newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

Issue No. 88

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

White House is hesitant to support Senate carbon border tax proposal.

The White House is withholding support for a Democratic proposal to impose a pollution tax on imports from China and other countries, casting doubt on whether Democrats will be able to deploy what many consider one of the greatest weapons to tackle global climate change in a massive spending bill this year.

The United States is the closest it has ever been to imposing a carbon border tax - which seeks to level the playing field between U.S. companies which face environmental regulations at home and foreign competitors with less rigorous standards - after Democrats included the proposal in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that they hope to pass along party lines by mid-September.

U.S. President Joe Biden and top members of his administration have said publicly they support a carbon border tax as a tool to advance climate goals, but the White House has not endorsed the Democratic proposal, spearheaded by longtime Biden ally Senator Chris Coons. The tax, as outlined by lawmakers, would raise billions by levying a tariff on carbon-intensive imports, but leaves specific details up to the Biden administration.

The White House is concerned the Democrats' proposal will raise prices on a host of consumer goods, from cars to appliances, and conflict with Biden's pledge not to tax any American earning less than $400,000 per year, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. The White House is also worried any tax that raises prices could fuel Republican attacks that his policies are driving up inflation, they say.

"We believe that carbon border adjustments in relation to carbon-intensive goods represent a potential, useful tool. We do not have a comment on any specific proposals at this time," a White House official said. "We will continue to engage with Congress, our partners around the world, and other stakeholders, including workers and domestic industry, on this issue.”

For a balanced discussion on the case for and against a carbon border tax, visit the Tax Notes Talk podcast and listen to these episodes:

The Case Against a Carbon Tax (August 5, 2021)
The Case for a Border-Adjusted Carbon Tax (August 12, 2021)

Creed readers know that I believe a carbon tax border tax will be enacted by this congress as part of the reconciliation bill. Executed in concert with the EU, this will be a historic shift by world governments to decarbonize the global economy.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest carbon policy and market insights as they happen. 

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com. 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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QUOTES

Climate quotes and sayings that will inspire you

(source: Twitter)

“The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”
-
Barack Obama, 44th POTUS

“If you don’t act against climate change, then no matter how much money you leave for your children, it’ll not even cover their healthcare bills, due to living in an unhealthy planet.” – Abhijit Naskar, Neuroscientists & Author

“Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.” – Paul Polman, Businessman


BOOKS

(source: Amazon)

1,001 Voices on Climate Change

By Devi Lockwood


It’s official: 2020 will be remembered as the year when apocalyptic climate predictions finally came true. Catastrophic wildfires, relentless hurricanes, melting permafrost, and coastal flooding have given us a taste of what some communities have already been living with for far too long. Yet we don’t often hear the voices of the people most affected. Journalist turned author, Devi Lockwood set out to change that.

In 1,001 Voices on Climate Change, Lockwood travels the world, often by bicycle, collecting first-person accounts of climate change. She frequently carried with her a simple cardboard sign reading, “Tell me a story about climate change.” 

Over five years, covering twenty countries across six continents, Lockwood hears from indigenous elders and youth in Fiji and Tuvalu about drought and disappearing coastlines, attends the UN climate conference in Morocco, and bikes the length of New Zealand and Australia, interviewing the people she meets about retreating glaciers, contaminated rivers, and wildfires. She rides through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia to listen to marionette puppeteers and novice Buddhist monks. 

From Denmark and Sweden to China, Turkey, the Canadian Arctic, and the Peruvian Amazon, she finds that ordinary people sharing their stories does far more to advance understanding and empathy than even the most alarming statistics and studies. This book is a hopeful global listening tour for climate change, channeling the urgency of those who have already glimpsed the future to help us avoid the worst.

Creed Comments: People are accustomed to pronouncements on climate being handed down by the UN and other scientific bodies. Rarely do we hear testimonies from everyday people who are directly impacted by climate change. This book does that.

Lockwood has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Slate, Yale Climate Connections, and other outlets. The book was released on August 24, 2021. I am adding this one to my list.


INSIGHTS - Electric Vehicles

Are Lithium-Ion Batteries in Electric Vehicles a Fire Hazard?

(source: Silicon Angle)

General Motors Co. has expanded the recall of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to a risk of fire from the pouch-type lithium-ion battery cells made by South Korea’s LG.

The recall, the second major one involving batteries made by LG Chem’s battery unit LG Energy Solution (LGES) underscores the challenges facing battery firms in making a stable product to power electric cars.

HOW DOES A LITHIUM-ION BATTERY WORK?

Cells come in different shapes and sizes, but most have three key elements: Electrodes, electrolyte and separator.

Electrodes store the lithium. The electrolyte carries the lithium ions between electrodes. The separator keeps the positive electrode from coming in contact with the negative electrode.

Energy, in the form of electricity, is discharged from the battery cell when lithium ions flow from the negative electrode, or anode, to the positive electrode, or cathode. When the cell is charging, those ions flow in the opposite direction, from cathode to anode.

WHY DO LI-ION BATTERIES POSE A FIRE RISK?

Lithium-ion batteries, whether they are used in cars or electronic devices, can catch fire if they have been improperly manufactured or damaged, or if the software that operates the battery is not designed correctly.

The major weakness of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars is the use of organic liquid electrolytes, which are volatile and flammable when operating at high temperatures. An external force such as a crash can also lead to chemical leakage.

Also authorities, car makers and battery makers often do not disclose what the exact safety risk is.

WHAT CAUSED THE FIRES ON BOLTS AND KONAS?

In February, South Korea’s transport ministry said some defects had been found in some battery cells manufactured at the LGES China factory and used in Hyundai Motor’s electric cars, including the Kona EV. Hyundai’s recall cost about $854 million USD.

GM said the batteries supplied by LG for the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV may have two manufacturing defects – a torn anode tab and folded separator – present in the same battery cell, which increases the risk of fire.

ARE POUCH-TYPE BATTERIES MORE VULNERABLE?

All three types of lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric cars – cylindrical, prismatic and pouch-type – are fundamentally the same in functionality, but each has pros and cons.

Cylindrical and prismatic batteries are cased in hard materials. Pouch-types use sealed flexible foils and are protected by thin metal bags.

The technology used in cylindrical batteries is old and yields consistent results. These cells can withstand high internal pressure without deforming. They are also cheaper, making them ideal for mass production. But they are heavier and their shape stops cells from being packed as densely as with other battery forms. Tesla Inc mostly uses cylindrical batteries, some supplied by LGES.

Prismatic batteries are considered safer and lighter than cylindrical cells and, because they are rectangular, can be more densely packed. They optimize space better than cylindrical cells, but are typically more expensive and have a shorter life cycle. They can also swell.

Compared with cylindrical and prismatic cells, pouch-type battery cells allow for lighter and thinner cell fabrication, and design flexibility for different capacities and space requirements for different vehicle models. However, they are vulnerable to swelling, and are more vulnerable in crashes, posing a greater fire risk.

GM and Hyundai Motor use pouch battery cells from LG Energy Solution (formerly LG Chem). Volkswagen said earlier this year it would shift away from pouch-style cells made by LG and SK Innovation Co. Ltd. to prismatic technology.

ARE THERE OTHER SOLUTIONS?

Companies such as China’s BYD Co. produce EV battery cells that use lithium iron phosphate cathodes, which are less prone to catching fire, but are not able to store as much energy as standard cells that use nickel cobalt manganese cathodes.

Others including GM are testing different chemistries such as nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum (NCMA) technology, which use less cobalt, making the cells more stable and cheaper.

Chinese battery maker CATL unveiled last month a sodium-ion battery that does not contain lithium, cobalt or nickel.

A number of companies including Toyota Motor Corp. are also developing battery cells with solid-state electrolytes, which could minimize overheating issues and fire risks, but could take another three to five years to commercialize.

[This post was adapted from the original written by Heekyong Yang  for Claims Journal]


Creed Comments: I must admit, I was alarmed by the recent spate of Chevy Bolt fires. But I don’t think its a game stopper for people considering the purchase of an EV. Do your homework. Buy electric. Decarbonize your transportation.


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