Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Electric hybrid car emits four times more CO₂ than advertised, real-world testing shows

A purportedly eco-friendly hybrid electric car emits four times more greenhouse gas than manufacturers claim, according to a report backed by Australia's motoring heavyweights that opens up a new front in the nation's energy policy tussle.

The report by the Australian Automobile Association, members of which include the NRMA and RACV and RACQ, says real-world testing reveals some new cars are using up to 59 per cent more fuel than advertised. Almost six in 10 exceeded the regulated limit for one or more pollutant in cold-start tests.

The AAA says consumers are being "increasingly ripped off", forking out for vehicle technology that cuts emissions in the laboratory, but not on the road.

It says the findings cast doubt on whether more stringent vehicle emissions laws – a move being considered by the Turnbull government – would reduce pollution and lower fuel use.

But environment groups accused the association of spreading "misinformation" and seeking to derail attempts to make Australian cars less polluting.

The AAA report, conducted following the Volkswagen emissions testing scandal, tested 30 popular Australian passenger and light commercial vehicles on Melbourne roads. It did not name makes or models.

Emissions and fuel use were tested under real driving conditions, with Australian fuel types, and urban, rural and freeway settings.

The report found that, on average, real-world fuel consumption was 23 per cent higher than laboratory results, including one diesel vehicle that used 59 per cent more fuel than lab tests indicated.

One fully charged plug-in hybrid electric car consumed 166 per cent more fuel than official figures suggest – or 337 per cent more when tested from a low charge. It also emitted four times more carbon dioxide than advertised.

Of 12 diesel vehicles tested, 11 exceeded the laboratory limit for nitrogen oxides emissions. Overall, 18 vehicles, or almost 60 per cent, failed to achieve the regulated emissions limit for one or more pollutant in cold-start tests.

The report concluded that vehicles with the highest emission standards had the largest discrepancy between lab and on-road fuel use results, and urged regulators to be "cautious" when implementing new vehicle emissions laws.

AAA chief executive Michael Bradley said Australia's motoring clubs want appropriate pollution reduction but "real world testing is clearly required if either consumers or the environment are to benefit".

The government has proposed reducing new car emissions to 105 grams of CO₂ per kilometre by 2025 – a change Mr Bradley has previously said was "extreme" and would make vehicles more expensive.

ClimateWorks Australia project manager Claire Painter said the government must include light-vehicle CO₂ emissions in its upcoming climate policy review if Australia is to meet its obligations under the Paris climate deal. The proposed new standard could save the average motorist $519 a year in fuel costs, she said.

Ms Painter accused the AAA of seeking to delay the introduction of new standards while the emissions testing regime was improved – adding this was unnecessary because while discrepancies existed between lab and on-road test methods, "the absolute emissions saved is roughly the same for both tests".

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy urged the government "not to be put off by misinformation and to adopt strong pollution standards".

A spokesman for consumer group Choice, Tom Godfrey, said the test results showed consumers could not trust the fuel efficiency claims made by car manufacturers and "real world testing is clearly needed to ensure consumers are getting what they're paying for".

Mr Godfrey rejected suggestions this should mean the delay of more stringent emissions standards, saying "the government can walk and chew gum".

A spokeswoman for Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said a ministerial forum on vehicle emissions could assess the merits of real world testing.


NBN needs protection if it is to make a profit: CEO Bill Morrow

A white elephant imposed on us by Kevin Rudd and the Labor party

The national broadband network is losing money with each typical connection it makes and believes that unless it is protected from competition due to data delivered by ultrafast mobile broadband it will never make a profit.

The company's concerns have been detailed by chief executive Bill Morrow in an exclusive interview ahead of a Four Corners report on Monday that it fears will suggest "the whole thing is a mess".

As the national broadband network is rolled out, we investigate some of the wholesale services it's going to provide.
"We collect about $43 per month from retail service providers for each home they sell into," Mr Morrow said. "In order to recover costs we need $52."

"We, NBN and the board, are betting that future applications are going to bring more value into homes, that they are going to need more bandwidth or more data and that the retail service providers will pay us more."

"It's a bet we've taken. If it doesn't come together, we've got a problem."

Asked whether NBN could withstand competition from data delivered by new ultrafast 5G networks that didn't need connections to houses, Mr Morrow said: "Forget about 5G for a moment, even the antenna technology using 4G is a viable alternative to NBN where the towers are already up."

"Think about the NBN business model. The only reason we are able to get connections into those 2 million difficult-to-wire homes that are cost prohibitive is because we are taking margin from low-cost city areas. As soon as competitors eat into these margins through enhanced antenna technology, we've got a problem."

Fixed-line competitors to the NBN will soon have to pay a levy beginning at $7.09 a month to help subsidise delivery to hard-to-connect customers.

"The problem is the levy excludes wireless, even where people never take the modem outside of the house," Mr Morrow said. "It's a threat that wasn't envisaged by this government or the last when the business plans were put together."

Conceding that a levy on mobile broadband would be unpopular, Mr Morrow said: "Things are going to have to happen. The government has two options: to regulate to protect this model, or to realise that the NBN won't have the finances it thought and might require some off-budget monies to go in to make it happen."

At the moment the NBN is required to make a profit, repaying government loans and returning the government's investment through dividends.

"I think government moves are going to be inevitable," Mr Morrow said. "It all depends on how serious this competitive threat is, but being an old wireless guy I can guarantee you I would have had my team seriously looking at this."

In April, internet service provider TPG spent $1.3 billion on wireless spectrum in what was widely interpreted to be a move into mobile data. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone already have substantial mobile data networks.

Asked how much subsidy the NBN would need if it wasn't protected from competition, Mr Morrow said it was too early to predict how much mobile competition would eat into its margins.

Asked whether NBN would ever make the profit required of it even with protection from competition, Mr Morrow said he wouldn't speculate.

"It's too early. I've been around the telco industry for 40 years and things have ebbed and flowed quite a bit. Companies have crashed and burned and later emerged as super-valuable – it's too premature to think about."


Teachers and doctors face shake-up in Scott Morrison's productivity revolution

Teachers and doctors will be the key targets of a five-year blueprint for a productivity revolution to be unveiled by Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

The 1000-page report is the first in a series commissioned by the Treasurer to complement the five-yearly intergenerational reports.

Mr Morrison told a business audience last month that rather than providing a wish list of measures arranged in no particular order, the Productivity Commission had identified "a new direction for an inclusive agenda", one that would require buy-in from the states as well as the Commonwealth.

Entitled Shifting the Dial, the review is understood to conclude that the next big gains in productivity will come, not from making people work harder, but from rearranging the delivery of health and education.

In health alone, the gains could exceed $100 billion over the next few decades. Importantly, the report finds these could be delivered by rearranging the way health dollars are spent rather than spending more.

Government figures who have seen the report say it concludes that poor health represents one of the biggest brakes on Australia's labour supply, with men in poor health 63 percentage points less likely to be part of the workforce than men in excellent health.

Although Australia has one of the highest life expectancies, the 10 years spent in ill-health is one of the longest periods in the developed world.

Men with nervous or emotional conditions earn 35 per cent less than average, while men in chronic pain earn 15 per cent less.

The report is understood to recommend that low-value health procedures be defunded and that health professionals be paid on the basis of results rather than the number of services provided. Regularly published data would enable consumers to better choose between health systems and health providers.

On education, schools would be encouraged to hire teachers with real-world knowledge of topics such as mathematics, trained with only short teaching courses. Teachers without specialist knowledge of fields such as maths would receive special training.

The programs would be delivered in partnership with willing states rather than through the Council of Australian Governments, whose resolutions require the approval of all state governments.

Other recommendations are believed to cover the efficiency of cities and opening access to government and private data, including giving consumers ownership of their own data.

Mr Morrison is likely to stress that although the recommendations are specific, they can't be implemented without the support of the states, several of whom face elections in 2018. The need for consultation and ownership by the states means that many of the recommendations are unlikely to be implemented until well after the federal election due in late 2018 or 2019.


Food, water, power to be cut at Manus Island centre as refugees forced to depart

Authorities are attempting to ward off a potentially violent crisis as the Manus Island detention centre closes, warning refugees their food, water and power will be cut on October 31.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers under Australia's care have refused to leave the centre, whose closure has loomed since the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled the men's ongoing detention illegal.

Alternative accommodation has been offered in the nearby town of Lorengau, but refugees fear clashes with local Manusians, and have largely refused to move.

Notices written in Persian given to some asylum seekers on Thursday - and translated by Fairfax Media - declare all services including food, sanitation and water will cease after October 31.

"All PNG government and Australian personnel will leave the regional processing centre. This site will be used by the PNG defence force," the notices state. "If you decide to stay, you should know services will be terminated."

Certified refugees can go to one of two alternative locations in Lorengau, or transfer to Nauru, and await the outcome of their applications for resettlement in the United States.

Asylum seekers not assessed to be refugees have been told they can go to a location called Hillside Haus but should make arrangements to leave PNG and go home.

Advocates fear an outbreak of violence as the October 31 closure deadline approaches, given rising tensions between refugees and Manusians, and the Good Friday clash between refugees and PNG soldiers.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee and journalist on Manus, said he and other asylum seekers were "very worried about the future and extremely scared by this situation".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was not available on Friday and a spokeswoman referred questions to authorities in PNG. Mr Dutton had earlier told Sky News more refugees would soon be accepted by the US.

Asked about the issue in Parliament on Monday, cabinet minister Michaelia Cash – who represents Mr Dutton in the Senate – affirmed the centre would close on October 31 and "anybody will be removed by lawful means".

The Australian government's contractors, including International Health and Medical Services, will leave the island on that date, although the Guardian reported late on Friday that IHMS would remain on the island under contract of the PNG government.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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