Energy

UN Climate Chief ‘Delighted’ About VW Scandal

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

The United Nations’ top climate bureaucrat is “delighted” that Volkswagen was caught cheating on emissions tests, because she believes it will accelerate the world’s shift to electric vehicles.

“I am actually delighted about Volkswagen,” Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s climate chief told reporters at an event in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, according to Politico Pro.

“I ask you,” she said, “Is it not time to build the museum to the internal combustion engine?”

Figueres was referring to Volkswagen’s plan to stop making diesel cars and focus on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles after the company was caught cheating on government-mandated emissions tests.

The company likely faces billions of dollars in fines for installing a “defeat device” in its diesel cars to trick nitrogen oxide testers. The cars would pass the tests, but then emissions controls were turned off during normal driving. The VW probe has widened to include more vehicles, and the company has no good solution for meeting NOx standards while maintaining high fuel efficiency levels.

Figueres thinks the discovery is great for the fight against global warming, but she said countries need to do more to address global warming. She even argued the U.S. should be more like China in terms of renewable energy.

“The United States is actually playing catch-up to China,” Figueres told reporters, referring to both countries’ efforts to move away from fossil fuels. “China has taken an undisputed leadership.”

Figueres statement, however, may be more perception than reality. The U.S. has moved much more aggressively to push green energy than China has in recent years. In fact, China has no plans to curb its carbon dioxide emissions until after 2030.

The U.S., on the other hand, plans on cutting emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. The U.S. also gets nine percent of its primary energy from green sources, like wind, solar and biofuels, and another 8 percent of its power from nuclear energy.

China gets less than one percent of its energy from nuclear power plants and only about one percent from green sources, according to Energy Information Administration data.

This is not the first time Figueres has urged the U.S. to be more like China. In 2014, Figueres hailed China’s communist government’s efforts to fight global warming, and she again praised China this summer for pushing green energy production.

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