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Swiss boat claims first solar Atlantic crossing

A Swiss-made catamaran has become the first solar-powered boat to cross the Atlantic after reaching the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

The boat’s owners said at the weekend that Sun21 had docked in Martinique, 63 days after leaving the Spanish port of Chipiona near Cadiz.

It is claimed to be the first-ever motorized vessel to complete the journey without using any fuel.

The 14-metre boat largely followed the historic route sailed by explorer Christopher Columbus on the first known maritime crossing of the Atlantic in the 15th century, making its last stopover in the Canary Islands.

The specially designed catamaran covered the final 5,000 kilometre non-stop leg in just 30 days.

“The achievement serves as a powerful example of responsible energy in practice,” said Transatlantic21 partnership, the private organisation which is funding the trip, in a statement released on Saturday.

“It also is impressive evidence of the suitability of solar technology for high-sea voyages.”
(4 Feb 2007)
Hat tip to LD of Palo Alto.

A rush-hour tax on urban drivers

Editorial, Christian Science Monitor
President Bush plans to help cities and states impose ‘congestion pricing’ as a way to curb carbon gases.
President Bush wants to give $305 million to cities and states to come up with ways to charge drivers for traveling at peak traffic. Such “congestion pricing” has worked in a few cities such as London and Singapore. But can it succeed with toll-averse Americans?

A rush-hour fee would not be aimed simply at easing the commuting hassles of only those workers willing or able to pay a few extra dollars a day. It’s a scheme with wider benefits, such as reduced fuel consumption, less air pollution, and better efficiency for business.

In 85 of the most congested urban areas in the United States, drivers had to endure 3.7 billion hours of traffic delays in 2003, the US Department of Transportation estimates. But beyond their frustrations, their idled driving also wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel and spewed millions of tons in greenhouse gases. In all, congested highways cost the US about 2 percent of its GDP.

That Mr. Bush has now jumped on the Al Gore bandwagon of wanting to impose costs on individuals for their contributions to global warming shows that this administration might be open to many Kyoto-like measures in areas where fossil fuel use needs to be curtailed.

In fact, his administration is also reportedly looking at a congestion levy on airlines to help spread out flights during heavy-traffic periods.
(7 Feb 2007)

EU Plans Carbon Dioxide Emissions Limits

Constant Brand, Associate Press via Forbes
The European Commission declared war on gas-guzzlers on Wednesday, proposing binding rules to force carmakers to cut carbon dioxide emissions from all new cars sold in the European Union by 2012, arguing the tough measure was needed to fight global warming.

The EU executive’s plan, which faces strong opposition from the car industry, foresees the drafting of lower emissions limits – a cut of 18 percent or 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer from current emissions levels – for new cars sold in or imported into the EU by 2012.

EU officials acknowledged the move would likely lead to higher car prices as they try to force Europeans to adopt greener modes of transport amid growing calls for action to save the environment.
(7 Feb 2007)
Car firms clamped by EU emissions policy (Guardian)
The end of the road (Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London)