The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings, following in the footsteps of dozens of smaller U.S. cities seeking to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy.
New buildings in the biggest U.S. city with 8.8 million residents will have to use electricity for heat and cooking, according to the council vote that was streamed on its website.
“The bill to ban the use of gas in new buildings will (help) us to transition to a greener future and (reach) carbon neutrality by the year 2050,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, noting “We are in a climate crisis and must take all necessary steps to fight climate change and protect our city.”
In the near-term, the new law will do little to reduce carbon emissions in the Big Apple, as numerous older buildings will not be affected, and the new structures would use electricity generated with fossil fuels anyway. Longer-term, however, carbon emissions will fall since the state plans to stop using fossil fuels to generate power.
The law would apply to new buildings under seven stories high at the end of 2023 and those over seven stories in 2027. There are exceptions for new buildings used for certain activities, including manufacturing, hospitals, commercial kitchens and laundromats.
Until now, the most populated U.S. city that has banned gas in new buildings is San Jose in California with about 1 million residents.
In 2020, U.S. carbon emissions from fossil fuels fell to their lowest since 1983, but were expected to rise about 7% in 2021 because power providers were burning more coal to generate electricity due to a sharp increase in gas costs.
Consolidated Edison Inc, which supplies power and gas in New York City, said “the establishment of a clear-cut path toward electrification of most new buildings is a sensible and necessary step on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050.”
“Reducing New York’s reliance on natural gas will gradually increase demand for electricity, but our electric grid is more robust than it’s ever been, and we will be ready for a renewable-powered future,” Con Edison said.
However, New York’s move to all-electric buildings could mean a higher price tag for consumers using electricity for heat than those relying on gas. This winter, the average household in the U.S. Northeast is expected to pay $1,538 to heat their home with electricity, compared with gas at about $865.
Almost half of the power generated in New York State so far this year came from burning fossil fuels (45% from gas and 4% from oil), with another 24% from nuclear and 22% from hydropower, according to federal energy data.
The power sector’s carbon emissions in New York State should decline in the future because the state passed a law in 2019 requiring all electricity to come from clean, carbon-free sources of energy like renewables and nuclear by 2040.
Burning fuels for space and water heating in buildings accounts for nearly 40% of the city’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to environmental advocacy group RMI, which evaluated city greenhouse gas data.
“When the largest city in the country takes this type of concrete action and shows bold climate leadership, we believe other cities, states and countries will take notice and act accordingly,” said Lisa Dix, New York director for the Building Decarbonization Coalition, an environmental advocacy group.
The oil and gas industry, which opposed the proposal, said using gas for space heating would keep customer costs lower and reduce emissions especially when combined with clean fuels like hydrogen and renewable natural gas from landfills.
“We share the commitment to greatly reducing emissions, but the pipelines that deliver natural gas today and zero-carbon fuels like hydrogen and renewable natural gas in the future will be essential to meet any environmental goal,” said Karen Harbert, chief executive of the American Gas Association, an industry lobby group.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York and Nichola Groom in Culver City, California; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Britain’s MI5 spy service warns lawmakers over Chinese agent of influence
Britain’s domestic spy service MI5 has warned lawmakers that the Chinese Communist Party has been employing a woman to exert improper influence over members of parliament.
MI5 sent out an alert and picture of the woman named Christine Lee on Thursday alleging she was “involved in political interference activities” in the United Kingdom on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who circulated MI5’s alert to lawmakers, said MI5 had found that Lee “has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China“.
Hoyle said Lee had been involved with the now disbanded all-party parliamentary group, Chinese in Britain.
Britain’s interior minister Priti Patel told reporters that Lee’s behaviour was currently below the criminal threshold to prosecute her, but she said that by putting the alert out the government was able to warn lawmakers about Lee’s attempts to improperly influence them.
Patel said it was “deeply concerning” that an individual working on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party had targeted lawmakers.
Lee is the founder of a law firm, which has offices in London and Birmingham, according to a government official. A woman who answered the phone at the Birmingham office said: “We are not taking any calls now”. A request for comment left at the London office went unanswered.
The law firm lists on its website one of its roles as legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in Britain.
The Chinese embassy in London said in a statement that China does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
“We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament,” it said. “We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK.”
Barry Gardiner, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, said he had received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from Lee and said he has been liaising with intelligence services “for a number of years” about her.
“They have always known, and been made fully aware by me, of her engagement with my office and the donations she made to fund researchers in my office in the past,” Gardiner said.
Gardiner employed Lee’s son as a diary manager but he resigned on Thursday.
Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of Britain’s governing Conservative Party who has been sanctioned by China for highlighting alleged human right abuses in Xinjiang, called for an urgent update from the government on the issue.
He questioned why the woman had not been deported and called for a tightening of the accreditation process for people gaining access to parliament, which he said was too lenient.
Lee is listed under the Christine Lee & Co law firm as a British national in financial filings with Companies House, Britain’s corporate registry.
Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood told parliament of her alleged activity: “This is the sort of grey-zone interference we now anticipate and expect from China.”
Britain’s relations with China have deteriorated in recent years over issues including Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Last year MI5 urged British citizens to treat the threat of spying from Russia, China and Iran with as much vigilance as terrorism.
British spies say China and Russia have each sought to steal commercially sensitive data and intellectual property as well as to interfere in domestic politics and sow misinformation.
The Chinese ambassador to Britain was banned from attending an event in the British parliament last year because Beijing imposed sanctions on lawmakers who highlighted alleged human right abuses in Xinjiang.
China placed the sanctions on nine British politicians in March last year for spreading what it said were “lies and disinformation” over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s far west.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Christopher Cushing)
Microsoft board to review sexual harassment, discrimination policies
Microsoft Corp will review the effectiveness of its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies and practices in response to a shareholder proposal that passed at its latest annual meeting, the company’s board said on Thursday.
The review will produce a transparency report with results of any sexual harassment investigations in recent years against the company’s directors and senior executives, including allegations that a board committee probe beginning in 2019 involved Bill Gates, the board said.
Data on the number of cases investigated and their resolution is also expected to be part of the review along with steps that have been taken to hold employees, including executives, accountable for sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
Microsoft said last year it conducted a probe into co-founder Bill Gates’ involvement with an employee almost 20 years ago after the company was told in 2019 that he had tried to start a romantic relationship with the person.
Gates stepped down from the Microsoft board in 2020. In previous public comments, a spokesperson for Gates has denied that his departure was linked to the probe.
A request for comment sent to Bill Gates at his Gates Foundation email address was not immediately returned.
Microsoft‘s board said it has hired outside law firm Arent Fox to assist in the review, at the end of which Arent would make public a version of the report detailing its findings and recommendations.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Mehr Bedi in Bangalore; Editing by Richard Chang and Shailesh Kuber)
Canada opens probe into Tesla’s heating system following consumer complaints
Canada’s auto safety regulator said on Thursday it has opened an investigation into the heating system of Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles following 16 consumer complaints about its performance during cold weather.
Transport Canada said it is concerned that a malfunctioning heating and air-conditioning system “may affect windshield defogging/defrosting and therefore driver visibility.”
“A company is required to notify Transport Canada and all current owners when they become aware of a defect that could affect the safety of a person. … These notices are commonly referred to as ‘safety recalls,’” it said.
The regulator said it has informed Tesla of the investigation.
Tesla did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. In 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted, “Model Y heat pump is some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while.”
A number of Tesla owners complained that the heat pumps are failing in extreme cold temperatures, according to Drive Tesla Canada, a Tesla news provider. The report said the heating problems happened even after Tesla early last year replaced faulty sensors in heat pumps in some 2020-2021 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to address the issue.
The U.S. safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, did not have an immediate comment on the issue.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Trudeau says Canada fears armed conflict in Ukraine as Russia ramps up aggression – CTV News
SETI Institute in the News – Media Roundup. December 2021 – SETI Institute
Samsung's Galaxy S22 Could Get a Graphics Boost From a New AMD-Fueled Chip – Gizmodo
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Business18 hours ago
Leveraging LinkedIn to Get a Job – Part 1
Health17 hours ago
Grey Bruce Health Services Has Highest Number Of COVID-19 Patients Yet – Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre
Tech19 hours ago
Samsung unveils Exynos 2200 chip with Xclipse graphics based on AMD RDNA 2 – MobileSyrup
Economy18 hours ago
'Throwaway economy' thwarting climate goals: report – FRANCE 24
Health24 hours ago
British Columbia extends COVID-19 curbs until February, gyms allowed to reopen
Business23 hours ago
Ford records $8.2 billion fourth-quarter gain from Rivian investment
Sports23 hours ago
Soccer-Chelsea drop more points in draw at Brighton
Art11 hours ago
At Art Basel, FLUF Haus Breaks Barrier Between Metaverse And Physical World – Forbes