US Government Issues Proposal To Boost Electric Vehicle Sales And Change Auto Emissions Standards

The US government is trying to change auto emissions standards so that automakers sell more electric vehicles, combatting the high levels of fossil fuel emissions in our atmosphere. With this new plan, the government is hoping that electric vehicles will make up two-thirds of all new car sales by 2032. 

Microsoft Logo at store

Microsoft Plans to Become Carbon-Negative by 2030

Many major companies have publicly announced their commitments to reduce their contributions to climate change, particularly after the occurrence of a number of extreme weather events that are thought to have been made worse by the impact of human activity. Amazon, for instance, recently announced its intention to become carbon neutral by 2040 by contributing to reforestation programs and switching to electric vehicles. Though Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said that he wants Amazon to lead the world in transitioning to carbon-neutral forms of energy, Microsoft has unveiled a plan even more ambitious than Amazon’s, as not only did Microsoft recently pledge to become carbon negative by 2030, but the company also announced a plan to remove all of its historical carbon emissions by 2050.

Embed from Getty Images

Microsoft’s plan depends on the widespread deployment of carbon-capture technology which is currently expensive and not widely available. As such, a substantial component of the plan is to invest in developing this technology, as the company wants to spend $1 billion to fund innovation in this technology. The company has already been carbon neutral for the past eight years, as Microsoft is switching to renewable energy and purchases carbon offsets to negate the greenhouse gases they emit. The policy of being carbon-neutral is supported by a kind of internal carbon tax, as Microsoft charges its business units an internal fee for using greenhouse gases, driving these units to slash their emissions. Now, however, given the immediacy of the threat climate change poses, Microsoft has decided that their efforts thus far are not enough, and has pledged to radically transform their use of energy across their entire supply change.

Microsoft hopes that by investing a billion dollars into carbon capture technology, the company can drive innovation in the field, eventually bringing down the cost of the technology so that it is more practical for other businesses to use. With this technology, Microsoft hopes not only to make up for their own carbon emissions since the company’s founding in 1975, but to make it easier for other businesses to do the same. That being said, carbon capture technology is not without its critics, as some believe that the proliferation of this technology would delay the transition towards renewable energy sources and encourage companies to continue to emit carbon.

Embed from Getty Images

A number of problems exist when it comes to using carbon capture technology, not the least of which is the question of how to safely and permanently store the carbon after it is captured. Despite the company’s commitment to becoming carbon-negative, Microsoft continues to do business with oil and gas companies, which belong to an industry that has significant interest in carbon capture technology. The decision to work with these companies has been met with criticism from within Microsoft, as employees wrote a letter criticizing their employer for working with Chevron and Schlumberger, two oil companies. Microsoft sees their use of carbon capture technology as an appropriate method of negating the carbon emissions created by these companies; however, the company is sure to be met with criticism from environmentalists for this approach, despite the audacity of their recent announcement and plan.

Amazon App

Amazon Threatened to Fire Employees who Spoke Out on Climate Change, Complaint Alleges

The activist group Amazon Employees For Climate Justice has alleged that the company has threatened to fire employees who are outspoken about climate change. According to a statement released by the group on Thursday, Amazon’s human resources and legal departments targeted four employees who spoke out about the issue. Two of these employees were threatened with firings via email, according to the group. In response, the group sharply criticized Amazon’s behavior, accusing the company of attempting to suppress activism related to environmental policy. Maren Costa, an Amazon employee, said that her employment was threatened after she spoke with The Washington Post about climate change, and in a statement remarked that “this is not the time to shoot the messengers … this is not the time to silence those who are speaking out.” Members of the activist group have pressured their employer to take a more meaningful stance against climate change, including urging the company’s leaders to cease working with the oil and gas industry. Though Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020 by investing in reforestation efforts and electric delivery vehicles, the group nonetheless believes their employer is taking insufficient action on climate.

Embed from Getty Images

In response to the complaint, Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokesperson, said that the company’s policy of prohibiting communications with external organizations is nothing new, and that employees should work within their teams and internally with the company to raise their concerns and suggest improvements. Employee activism within the tech sector has been on the rise in recent years, as several Google employees protested against the search giant’s cooperation with the Pentagon, and Microsoft employees complained that their company was cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even after news broke of migrants being detained in poor conditions. Last year, Amazon Employees For Climate Justice introduced a shareholder resolution, in a letter signed by thousands of employees, asking the company to release information about how it plans to mitigate its contribution to climate change. This suggestion was rejected by shareholders in May, but a few months later Bezos announced a climate plan that met many, but not all, of the protestors’ demands. Additionally, the company lessened restrictions on allowing employees to speak with the media after a planned employee strike in September, though employees now have to ask the company for permission before discussing Amazon in any public forum.

Embed from Getty Images

Though it does not fully satisfy every employee, Amazon’s planned changes to its operations to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions are substantial, as the company intends to lead the world in the fight against climate change. The plan, called The Climate Pledge, aims to achieve the goals established at the 2016 Paris Climate Summit ten years early by encouraging other companies to match Amazon’s environmental efforts. Those who signed the pledge agree to regularly release reports on their own greenhouse gas emissions, implement “decarbonization strategies” to reduce carbon emissions, and invest in technologies to neutralize any remaining carbon emissions. The goal of the pledge is to create a carbon-neutral economy by 2040, which is an ambitious goal, but one that scientists agree is essential for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. Bezos hopes that by leading the pack when it comes to climate change, he will encourage other companies to follow suit. In order to reach this goal, Bezos announced the company would spend $100 million on reforestation and order 100,000 electric vans to replace Amazon’s existing network of diesel vehicles. The company also intends to move to 100% renewable energy by 2030; currently, 40% of the energy Amazon uses comes from renewable sources. 

Tesla Logo on Trunk

Tesla’s “Cyber Truck’s” Are Almost Here; Here’s What Fans Are Expecting

Tesla has become one of the most well-known vehicle brands within the past few years. With their advanced self-driving technology, sleek modern design, and quiet electric engines, there’s been no stopping the growth of this business. Now, Tesla is ready to drop their next line of vehicles and this time, they’re going pick-up. That’s right, Tesla pick-up trucks are almost ready to hit the market and change the entire discussion surrounding modern truck technology. Fans of Tesla and pick-up trucks alike have nicknamed the new vehicles as “cyber trucks,” the question is what’s the difference between these vehicles and the already released models of Tesla vehicles. 

Like any pick-up truck, these vehicles need to be able to withstand a little more wear and tear compared to their sports car like counterparts. Tesla can’t just release a pick up shaped vehicle that doesn’t perform at the same level as other high quality trucks on the market. Their needs to be an industrial strength bed, and the ability to tow and haul large loads. Tesla is attempting to release their trucks as soon as possible, as Rivian, an automotive technology company, is nearing the launch of their electric trucks, according to TechCrunch Magazine. Electric pick-ups are really rare at the moment, however, companies like Rivian and Ford has both announced their futures in electric trucks to take over the roads. With more and more advances from multiple corporations in their electric vehicle developments, Tesla enthusiasts are expecting quite a bit from the launch of these “cyber trucks.” TechCrunch Magazine recently surveyed and interviewed many individuals on what they expect to be featured in these trucks based on the little information Tesla has given, and internet leaks. 

Embed from Getty Images

As stated above, all of these features are compilations of theories and predictions based on the little information Tesla has given to the public, however, in the past, these predictions have been seen out in other Tesla models. One of the biggest features that has truckers the most curious is the towing capability of the truck. The Model X from Tesla has been criticized for having a weak towing ability, as it can only tow around 5,000 pounds, however, the Model X is an SUV and not a car that’s main feature is its towing capability. For comparison, most Ford trucks can tow around 10,000 pounds or more (TechCrunch), and Rivian has projected its new line of electric pickups to be able to carry 11,000 pounds. 

The bed of the truck is the next major concern, as the Model X in comparison can only support about 280 pounds in its back deck, and a total of 800 pounds in the car in general, relatively light in the realm of all SUV vehicles. Pickup trucks can, on average, hold up to 2,000 pounds in it’s bed. Additionally, Tesla is known for being quite difficult when it comes to making repairs to its vehicles. Because Tesla is sort of in a league of its own in regards to the parts that make up the vehicles, if something is damaged or broken, the parts for repair need to be Tesla parts. It’s predicted that this will be the same for the cyber trucks, which is already posing as an issue for truck enthusiasts everywhere. 

Embed from Getty Images

Trucks are susceptible to a higher rate and level of damage due to the heavy duty work that they endure. Brakes often wear out quicker due to the additional heavy weight that trucks carry when coming to a stop, same deal with the tires and joints of the vehicle. Enthusiasts are just hoping that the cars are made with the highest quality parts, much like the cars, so that issues and part replacements don’t become a huge issue. Luckily, with electric vehicles in general, there’s less internal mechanics and less parts that are likely to become damaged. 

The electric power, off-roading capabilities, and price point are the last three major items that any truck enthusiast is gonna worry about. If Tesla follows along Rivian’s basic model for pricing and features, as it’s predicted to, than the trucks should start around the $70,000 range. However, it would not be surprising if the cyber trucks are more, as Tesla has become one of the highest quality and upscale vehicle brands out there today, their regular vehicles often go for triple digits, so the price point could really be anything. The upscale nature of Tesla’s vehicles also poses concern for its  off-roading capabilities. Is this really just going to be a truck shaped Tesla? Or will it be able to endure the many elements that a standard pickup can? It most likely will be able to endure it and do it while looking sleek and modern.