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What’s Your Price for Flight?

European Parliament calls for jet-fuel tax to curb enviro impact of flying The European Parliament has voted in favor of a jet-fuel tax to help offset the environmental impact of air travel. The consumer cost of the fuel tax would be up to about $75 per roundtrip flight within Europe. Also, as the European Union considers making airlines join the Union-wide cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse-gas emissions, Parliament suggested that the industry enter a separate, aviation-only emissions-trading system so carriers could not simply buy up rights from other sorts of companies while continuing to pollute. The parliamentary vote has no legal …

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Two Steps Back

Ford backs out on hybrid pledge, plans more alt-fuel vehicles Remember Ford's much-hyped commitment to produce 250,000 hybrid vehicles by 2010? Er, about that: CEO Bill Ford Jr. backpedaled on the promise Wednesday. While not abandoning hybrids altogether, he said Ford's focus (ha) is shifting (ha ha) to cars that can run on alternative fuels like ethanol, clean diesel, and biodiesel. In an email to employees, the CEO said the quarter-million-hybrids objective was "too narrow to achieve our larger goals of substantially improving fuel economy and CO2 performance." (Of course, ethanol substantially improves neither, so, uh, WTF?) Also on Wednesday, …

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Green Building 101

Yesterday, Inhabitat started a weekly series for the summer called Green Building 101. The series is focused mainly on LEED-H, the (developing) green standards for homes. It also mentions LEED-ND, the (developing) green standards for neighborhoods, which I'm super jazzed about. The series will walk through the basics of building or renovating a home for maximum eco-friendliness. Should be cool. Check out the first installment, about choosing an eco-friendly site.

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With Our Tailpipe Between Our Legs

U.S. cars are tops in CO2 emissions The U.S. boasts 30 percent of the world's cars and is responsible for almost half of global car-caused greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a new report by Environmental Defense. American-driven cars emit 15 percent more carbon dioxide per mile than the global average (meaning, in essence, they get worse gas mileage). Plus, Americans just drive more: 29 percent above the global average. In 2004, U.S. cars and light trucks drove the equivalent of the distance to and from Pluto ... more than 470 times. Small cars in toto emit more CO2 than SUVs because …

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Nice Package

UPS will test new hydraulic hybrid trucks If you thought the muscled deliveryfolk in tight brown shorts were hot, wait 'til you get a load of their trucks. UPS drivers in Detroit will be testing new hybrid delivery trucks developed by the U.S. EPA, which the agency claims will boost fuel efficiency up to 70 percent in stop-and-go traffic. The "hydraulic hybrid" trucks -- also intriguing to the Army and FedEx -- sport low-emission diesel engines and store braking energy not in a battery, but in a hydraulic system. A hydraulic hybrid will save about 1,000 gallons of fuel a …

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A conversation with the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car?

Chris Paine, the director of Who Killed the Electric Car?, looks a little embarrassed as he walks toward his waiting limo. "I should really have them drop us off a block away from the theater," he says, laughing uneasily. At least he's carpooling. Dean Devlin and Chris Paine at Sundance. Photo: Fred Hayes/WireImage. With him are Dean Devlin, one of the film's executive producers (whose other projects include Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot); former electric-vehicle sales rep Chelsea Sexton, who appears in the film; and Sexton's husband, Bob, who helped launch Saturn before becoming the go-to technician for EV …

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Six in the city

Vancouver family does it up right.

Six kids, to be exact. The Vancouver Courier profiles the Spino family -- 2 parents and 6 kids who live in a 3-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver. It's an interesting read, as well as a good reminder that, for some families, downtown living makes a lot of sense. Says the pater familias: "I don't see the need for having rooms in houses that you don't use. I don't see why you have two spare bedrooms for visitors that you just use to store boxes. I don't think that's efficient. I don't think that's a responsible way to live...You don't need …

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Move Thyself: “Kingdom of bicycles” experiencing identity crisis

So, in case you haven't heard, China's economy has been growing a wee bit. The boom has fueled growth in incomes and is largely responsible for the attendant explosive growth in auto sales and use. Huge growth. The number of cars has grown over 20 times since 1978 and is expected to balloon another five times still by 2020. Meanwhile, bicycle ridership has fallen at roughly the same rate as auto use has grown, and city planners and officials, eager to keep the boom booming, even at great public cost, have been planning to welcome the auto's continued growth and …

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How my father taught me to leave cars behind

When my husband and I moved back to Montana three years ago, I fantasized about living far from town. We'd settle outside the city boundaries, where the Milky Way sparkles clear as a river and red-tailed hawks bank over bunchgrass meadows. My (imaginary) dogs could run over our five acres, frolicking in the ponderosa pines. That was the plan. But we didn't do it. And it's my father's fault. He kept me on track. Photo: iStockphoto. Before he retired a few years ago, my father spent more than 30 years as an electrical engineer for Bay Area Rapid Transit, the …

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Why is green building still so hard?

Recently, Colorado Company magazine highlighted a developer who believes in nothing but "green" building. It was a wonderful article, but it gets at an underlying question: why is this still a story? The idea of green building has not spread like wildfire. The mass-market building sector is oblivious. Most of the structures in trade magazines like Architectural Digest aren't green. Last month, The New York Times ran an article in which Robert A.M. Stern, dean of Yale's architecture school, said, "I think the trouble with environmentalism is that at most architecture schools it's been confined to a dreary backwater of …

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