Apr 4, 2019

The climate case for shifting freight movement from heavy trucks to rail

A Michigan State University academic has put together data that makes the climate change case for shifting freight movement from heavy trucks and planes to rail.

Adapted from The Conversation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: Transportation has overtaken power generation as the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Andreas Hoffrichter, writing in The Conversation, says the "quickest way" to cut those emissions is more travel and goods movement by rail.

By the numbers: The chart above shows rail's emissions edge. In 2016, rail accounted for 32% of U.S. freight movement but 6% of greenhouse gas emissions from moving goods around and has far lower energy usage.

Where it stands: Hoffrichter's piece makes the case for more passenger travel and freight movement by rail, but notes it will require government investment, especially on the passenger rail side.

  • He also sees several pathways for making railways less carbon-intensive via improvements to diesel engine technology, use of natural gas, more battery systems deployment on relatively short routes and more.

Go deeper: How to cut CO2 from heavy trucking

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health