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CALIFORNIA, August 2, 2018 (News Wires) - The Trump administration on Thursday will move to revoke California's authority to set its own strict tailpipe emissions rules and mandate the sale of electric vehicles, as it proposes weakening Obama-era federal fuel efficiency standards.

The proposal to roll back anti-pollution efforts, to be released early on Thursday according to one administration official, is in line with President Donald Trump's decision last year to abandon the 2015 Paris deal aimed at slowing climate change.

It will escalate the administration's legal battle with California and about a dozen other states that have adopted California's emission rules, and account for about a third of the US auto market.

Seventeen states, including California, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in May challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency's decision a month earlier to declare US vehicle emission rules in place through 2025 "not appropriate." In March, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would use "every legal tool" to protect the current standards.

Trump promised Midwestern auto workers last year that he would tear up vehicle rules touted by the administration of former President Barack Obama as among its biggest climate actions.

Democrats hope to make any rollback a key part of the 2018 congressional elections. Republicans in states with links to the auto industry may contend the administration is working to ensure automakers can make more profitable larger vehicles, including fuel-thirsty pickups and SUVs, without excess regulation and state interference.

Some middle ground on the issue might be possible, with acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler saying Wednesday he would welcome a deal between the industry and states like California on vehicle fuel economy, once they consider the Trump administration's proposal.

The rollback in emissions standards is problematic for automakers. The administration has said it will deliver regulatory relief potentially worth billions, by reducing the need for costly technologies required to achieve greater fuel efficiency. But it does so in a way that could create more uncertainty for an industry already struggling with rising tariff risks and a murky sales outlook.

Automakers have long pressed for one set of rules for emissions and greenhouse gases, saying a national regulatory framework to improve fuel economy reduces complexity and costs for the industry.

The "preferred option" in the administration's proposal, to be issued by the EPA and the US Department of Transportation, would freeze the Obama fuel efficiency targets at 2020 levels, requiring no further improvement. That means the fleets of cars and light trucks sold by automakers in the United States could average about 59.5 km per gallon, instead of the 46.8 mpg projected for 2026 under the Obama rules.

US fuel consumption would increase by about 500,000 barrels daily as a result, a person briefed on the matter said, adding that such an increase would have only a "negligible impact" on the global climate.

The administration has characterised its proposal to freeze fuel efficiency and emissions targets as a step that would save up to 1,000 lives per year, by reducing the cost of new vehicles and encouraging people to buy safer new cars sooner.

Environmental groups have criticised that analysis and said the proposal would drive up gasoline prices and reverse one of the most significant steps Washington has taken to curb climate changing greenhouse gas emissions. It would also put more lives at risk due to asthma-inducing emissions, environmental advocates say.

Trump's decision to challenge California's authority to regulate vehicle emissions upends decades of federal policy undertaken to allow the largest US state to combat air pollution that particularly afflicts Los Angeles.

Eliminating California's electric vehicle mandate could hurt automakers like Tesla Inc and General Motors Co , which are already investing billions in EVs.

Relying on the state's regulatory authority, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, set a target in January of putting 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads in California by 2030, up from a prior goal of 1.5 million by 2025.

BERLIN, May 8, 2018 (AFP) — Domestic and international tourism account for eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, four times more than previously estimated, according to a study published on Monday.

The multi-trillion dollar industry’s carbon footprint is expanding rapidly, driven in large part by demand for energy-intensive air travel, researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Tourism is set to grow faster than many other economic sectors,” with revenue projected to swell by four per cent annually through 2025, noted lead-author Arunima Malik, a researcher at The University of Sydney’s business school.

Holding the sector’s carbon pollution in check will likely require carbon taxes or CO2 trading schemes for aviation, the researchers concluded.

As in past decades, the United States is the single largest emitter of tourism-related carbon emissions, with other wealthy nations — Germany, Canada and Britain — also in the top ten.

But burgeoning middle classes have moved emerging economies up the ranking, with China in second place and India, Mexico and Brazil 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.

International travel involving long-haul flights is among the fastest growing sectors, and could threaten efforts to reign in planet-warming carbon pollution.

The total number of air passengers is expected to almost double by 2036 to 7.8 billion per year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The aviation industry accounts for two per cent of all human-generated C02 emissions, and would rank 12th if it were a country.  

“We see very fast tourism demand growth from China and India over the past few years, and also expect this trend will continue in the next decade or so,” Ya-Sen Sun, a professor at The University of Queensland Business School in Australia, and co-author of the study, told AFP.

“Besides the sheer population number, what’s worrying is that people with a rising income tend to travel further, more frequently, and with a higher reliance on aviation.”