16,000 New Yorkers could die from the coronavirus, according to Gates Foundation projections


The coronavirus pandemic could result in the death of 16,000 New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned from Albany on Wednesday in his daily news conference.

To date, the virus has killed 1,914 across the state with 83,712 confirmed cases, according to the statistics shared Wednesday by Cuomo.

“There is a group that is funded by the Gates Foundation that projects 93,000 Americans will lose their life by the time this is over,” Cuomo said. “That model suggests 16,000 New Yorkers will pass away by the time this runs its course,” which could be through July, he added.

His U.S.-wide projection is less than what the White House gave on Tuesday, which estimated the number of deaths to be between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans.

The group referenced by the governor is the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and their specific numbers for the two rates on Wednesday afternoon are 93,765 dying in the U.S. and 16,090 in the state. The institute takes into account the effects of social distancing measures until at least the end of May 2020.

Factors affecting the forecasts, which are updated every day at 6 a.m. (PST), are based on a wide range of data sources, including state health agencies, among others, a representative for IHME told MarketWatch.

The model, which only provides statewide projections, does not provide an estimate for the death toll in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.

As of Wednesday, the city has accounted for 1,096, or 57.2%, of New York state’s 1,914 deaths.

Meanwhile, at a separate news conference Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city is expected to run out of ventilators by Sunday. He said that to handle the surge of victims, New York City will need 2,500 to 3,000 ventilators over the next week and 65,000 hospital beds by the end of April. The city will be retrofitting hotels and large venues to create 39,000 beds.

Cuomo pointed out on Wednesday that New York state will account for roughly 16% of the total deaths in the U.S. based on the modeling from the IHME. The actual figure based on IHME’s specific online numbers is a just pinch higher at 17%.

“I don’t even understand that,” he said. “Since New York is so much higher right now.”

The governor was referring to the disproportionate number of both coronavirus cases and deaths in the state. New York currently accounts for 42.7% of the U.S.’s total 195,929 confirmed cases and for 45% of the country’s 4,310 coronavirus deaths.

“If you believe these numbers, 16,000 deaths in New York, that means you’re going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York,” Cuomo said. “So to the extent people watch their nightly news in Kansas and say ‘well this is a New York problem’, that’s not what these numbers say. It says it’s a New York problem today, tomorrow it’s a Kansas problem and a Texas problem and a New Mexico problem.”

Along with the projections, Cuomo said Wednesday that 7,917 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across New York compared to the figures he announced Tuesday, 1,297 new hospitalizations and 391 more deaths.



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Zoom Video lurches from boom to backlash amid privacy issues


For weeks, Zoom Video Communications Inc. basked in the glow of surging shares, enthusiastic research reports and insatiable demand among consumers and enterprises.

But in recent days, the one-time darling of Wall Street and Main Street has faced a backlash from regulators and politicians. Hackers have targeted the video-conferencing service because of its popularity, leading to a warning to consumers from the FBI about so-called “Zoom-Bombing” incidents. And a lawsuit filed Monday in California claims Zoom

ZM, -6.24%

 allegedly gave users’ personal data to Facebook Inc.

FB, -4.32%

 and other outside companies without fully informing customers.

What a difference a week makes.

Shares of Zoom toppled 6% on Wednesday, its third straight day of declines — and the longest such streak since late January. Since March 27, Zoom’s stock has tumbled 10%.

See also: Zoom, Microsoft cloud usage are rocketing during coronavirus pandemic, new data show

Zoom’s rash of problems in some ways parallels those of Facebook: High-flying companies whose popular services have access to mountains of personal information that have made them both high-valued stocks as well as targets of lawmakers and scammers.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic has both helped and now hurt Zoom, brand experts say.

“People who found the ease of Zoom as a new toy may change their opinion in 10 days when all this bad news sinks in,” John Durham, chief executive of Catalyst, a brand-strategy firm that works with tech companies, told MarketWatch in a phone interview. “And today, in this social-media climate, it’s harder to regain trust. Some Zoom customers might shift to known and trusted brands like Microsoft

MSFT, -3.55%

 or Cisco Systems”

CSCO, -2.49%

 for video-conferencing tools, he said.

Indeed, Zoom may find itself in the same position as Facebook, following the 2016 presidential election in particular. A slew of privacy- and data-related problems prompted the company to spend billions of dollars shoring up its security and regaining the trust of customers.

“Two thoughts on the developments we have seen with #Zoom over the past couple of days,” Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, tweeted. “It’s clear that changing perception takes much longer is much harder than making your tools Enterprise class. Just look at Google. Security & Privacy are not the same — Zoom must address both.”

“Zoom was caught out in not thinking about some of the exploits people might be using,” Milanesi told MarketWatch in a message.

Case in point: “Zoom Bombing,” in which a hacker essentially hijacks a video conference to post pornographic or hate images. There have been reports of trolls breaking into AA meetings and taunting recovering alcoholics, and of a virtual meeting of black students at the University of Texas being interrupted with racist slurs. The FBI’s Boston office on Monday advised users not to make Zoom meetings public or share links to the video conference on social media.

“The millions of Americans now unexpectedly attending school, celebrating birthdays, seeking medical help, and sharing evening drinks with friends over Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic should not have to add privacy and cybersecurity fears to their ever-growing list of worries,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote in a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on Tuesday. “Zoom has a troubling history of software design practices and security lapses that have posed significant risks to the privacy and safety of its users.”

The data-sharing lawsuit, on the heels of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ look into Zoom’s security practices, underscores the myriad issues facing Zoom. And, like Facebook, it is attempting to respond quickly and minimize the damage to its brand. (Zoom did not respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.)

Shortly after details over its data-sharing practices surfaced in a Vice Media report, Zoom officials acknowledged its data sharing in blog posts and said they had changed those practices. “Our customers’ privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK [Software Development Kit] in our [Apple-based] client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser,” Yuan said in a March 27 blog post.

Separately, a Zoom spokesperson said company officials would fully comply with James’ request for specifics on how the company will safeguard users’ data. The AG’s inquiry came after a Consumer Reports investigation that found Zoom — while outlining in its privacy policy that it collects personal information about its users — failed to disclose details about how that information is used for advertising, marketing or other business purposes.

“There is a huge shift in how we are using these tools,” Bill Fitzgerald, a Consumer Reports privacy researcher, told MarketWatch in a phone interview. “A month ago, most people had never heard of Zoom. They may have heard of Skype or Google Hangouts. But shelter-in-place policies changed that.”

Zoom has been among the biggest beneficiaries of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has forced millions of Americans to work remotely. The company’s daily active users have catapulted 378% year-over-year, as of March 22, according to market researcher Apptopia.

Gains had been most pronounced on Wall Street. While the S&P 500 index

SPX, -4.41%

 has plunged 27% since its record high Feb. 19, Zoom stock has improved 32% since then because investors are betting Zoom will become a corporate and consumer staple after COVID-19 dissipates.





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‘Would you risk your life for a jar of marmalade?’ My coronavirus survival guide to navigating grocery stores safely


NEW YORK — It’s not always easy to ask for help.

One of my best friends in New York is self-quarantining. She is smart, extremely well-read and makes me laugh. We read long-form articles together and, afterwards, we discuss them over tea. We don’t always agree, which we like, but we do agree most of the time, and we’re OK with that, too.

My friend remembers the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and witnessed people get up from a park bench if they thought a sick person sat next to them. She did not even get around to telling me about the many polio epidemics. Perspective is good: THIS IS NOT THE FIRST PANDEMIC. (That’s Point No. 1).

We take tap-dancing classes together (her idea). At least, we did until the social-distancing policies prescribed by public health officials came into effect. On Monday, we each vowed to practice 15 dance steps. That’s more “dig, brush, toe, heel, paddle and roll, paradiddle!” for me.

It’s good to be cautious, but it makes sense to be careful and take your time.

She listens carefully, tells me exactly how she feels, and remains open to changing her mind. I learn from her. Before tap-dancing class, she asks me, “So, Quentin, what color is your tutu today?” I usually describe the most ridiculous-sounding tutu. “Pink,” I say, “with yellow ruffles.”

My friend is 95, and she is now blind. Mostly, I feel grateful that we are both here at the same time, and that our paths crossed. She is one of my favorite people on the planet. She grew up in an Irish community in Massachusetts. I grew up in Dublin. She calls me “lace-curtain Irish.”

She needed a couple of weeks’ worth of groceries. That is how I found myself with another Irishman — who moved to the U.S. 30 years before I did — at the Fairway Market on Broadway and 74th Street on Monday afternoon, with a shopping list in one hand and a grocery cart in the other.

We’d been asked to help buy our friend groceries, so we joined forces. I didn’t like him usurping my place as Sir Edmund Hillary on this potentially hazardous expedition. (Nor did I want to be Francis Crozier to his Sir John Franklin.) But it’s a lot for one person to carry the load. We made a good team.

I wore a balaclava I’d bought for a New Year’s Eve midnight run in Central Park.

“If we get coronavirus, a grocery store is where we’ll get it!” I said, surveying the food aisles. He looked at me like I was about to rob a store, not shop in one. “What’s wrong?” I said. I was wearing a balaclava I’d bought for a New Year’s Eve midnight run in Central Park. He tried to muffle a laugh.

“Would you risk your life for a jar of marmalade?” I asked. He turned his head, as if to roll his eyes up to heaven, but then appeared to think better of it midroll. I presumed he was about to say, “You’re completely overreacting.” But he’s a gem, so he did a diplomatic 360-degree head roll, instead.

As for wearing a D.I.Y. mask, I could be wrong, I could be right, as the former Johnny Rotten sang. There are conflicting messages on whether a face mask other than the scarcely available medical-grade N95 helps. With so many people milling about, I decided to err on the side of caution.

Research has concluded that masks have helped reduce contagion by reducing droplets being sprayed into the air during flu season; and infectious-disease specialist Anthony Fauci has said the White House’s coronavirus task force is considering giving the public the green light to wear them.

N95 medical-grade masks help filter viruses larger than 0.1 micrometers.

N95 masks filter viruses larger than 0.1 micrometers (a micrometer, um, is one millionth of a meter). The coronavirus is 0.125 micrometer. Still, I would not wear an N95. They’re needed elsewhere. And if I am asymptomatic? If I can avoid passing on one droplet while reaching for the chicken giblets, I will.

Proponents of face masks also point to countries in East and Southeast Asia, including South Korea and Taiwan, which appear to have slowed the spread of the coronavirus more effectively than the U.S., Spain and Italy have. But they also have other safety measures, including early testing, in place.

I wore gloves because studies have found that shopping carts are traditionally covered in all kinds of germs, just like subway poles and turnstiles, or anything else that lots of people touch on a regular basis. I constantly lose my gloves, alas. But I have adopted a wartime thrift: I wear odd pairs with pride.

I did not bring alcohol wipes. Next time, I will at least bring Clorox

CLX, +2.05%

wipes in a Ziploc bag. I tell myself every 15 minutes to wash my hands as soon as I get home both before and after I put the groceries away. “When you get home, Quentin, WASH YOUR HANDS.” (Point No. 2.)

Shopping carts are covered in all kinds of germs, just like subway poles.

Here’s the other reason I wore a ridiculous balaclava: It’s not comfortable, it reminds me that we’re dealing with a serious health emergency, it covers almost my entire head, and — here’s the science bit — I am constantly reminded: DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE. (That’s No. 3.)

If you take anything away from this, rather than becoming embroiled in a heated debate on face masks, take that. Coronavirus can survive longer on a solid surface than on a pair of gloves, but it can live for a time on different surfaces, so I try to be aware that it could be on my gloves, too.

Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s during the Troubles, and living in London during the 1990s, swanning around in a balaclava would have been a risky proposition, especially with an Irish accent. But during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic with my now transoceanic twang, I think I’ll be OK.

As an editor, I play devil’s advocate with my writers, push back and ask questions. It helps to be a little paranoid. I’m putting a life skill to good use. The coronavirus pandemic is a time when germaphobes (check), quirky paranoid types (check) and workaholics (check) come into their own.

I took my time, and I stayed 6 feet away from others whenever possible.

But here’s the other thing I learned during My Day at the Supermarket: Shopping can be stressful under these conditions. It’s good to be a cautious — and a smart — shopper. I usually want to get in and out in double-quick time, but I decided to be careful and take my time.

What’s more, I enjoyed it. Everything I could have done to minimize my chances of picking up COVID-19, I did. I stayed 6 feet away from others, whenever possible, including my shopping partner. We did not go at rush hour. I talked to staff and other customers.

Everyone is freaked out. Friendly banter puts me and, I hope, others at ease. A nice woman recommended the London broil. I read peer-reviewed studies — not Facebook

FB, -4.14%

 posts. I choose caremongering over scaremongering because FEAR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. (Point No. 4.)

There is no evidence linking coronavirus transmission with food or food packaging. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious-diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., suggests that viruses would survive better on “artificial fibers” such as plastic or polyester.

Viruses survive better on artificial fibers such as plastic, vinyl and polyester.

This, too, might help: Sarah Fortune, a professor who chairs the department of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that while health-care workers might have to worry about their clothes, we should not.

But here’s the deal: If you want to change clothes or wear a mask, do it. TRUST YOUR GUT. (Point No. 5.)

As my self-quarantining friend told me the other day on the phone, “Quentin, I’m 95! Do you think I’m scared of coronavirus?” But that doesn’t mean she’s standing in line at the supermarket, either.

If you are concerned about going to the grocery store, imagine what it’s like for those who work there. I told every staff member I spoke to at Fairway, “Thank you for working today.” They need to hear that. Customers must be frazzled, and a frazzled customer is often not a gentle or happy customer.

I also got something I couldn’t buy at any store or pharmacy. Getting out of the house for a couple of hours was a great tonic. I didn’t see Yoko Ono rummaging through the vegetables at Fairway — I did see her there once, and I left her to it — but I did meet another friend outside, from 6 feet away.

If you’re nervous about shopping, imagine what it’s like for the staff.

We had two weeks’ worth, maybe more, of groceries — including bottles, cans, six-packs of kitchen roll, liters of milk, jars of this, that and the other — and they were heavy. I walked one block, and we had a few more to go. I spotted an abandoned cart on the street corner. “We’ll return it,” I said. “Later!”

I quickly piled the groceries into the cart and pushed it across four traffic lanes on Broadway. We’re in the middle of a national emergency, after all; if the cops stopped me, I’d simply tell them the truth. Thank you, NYPD, first responders and health professionals, and thank you, Fairway Market.

As I headed down Amsterdam with the speed of a clanking, yet nutritious, bullet, a man ran out of a jewelry store in pursuit of another man. “People are dying, and you try to steal something from my store? You motherf—!” Ah, yes. There are always folks with bigger problems than mine.

It was a good day in Manhattan. To quote that opening line from the postwar film noir, “The Naked City”: “There are 8 million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” My 95-year-old friend would have been 23 when that film was released. She, too, has more stories to tell.

This essay is part of a MarketWatch series, ‘Dispatches from a pandemic.’

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

Voices from around the world.



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Online dating amid coronavirus: Longer chats and fewer new prospects, Match says


As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, online daters are having longer conversations but finding fewer new dating prospects, Match Group Inc. said Tuesday, which is leading to a change in strategy.

The new chief executive of Match Group

MTCH, -0.94%

 — which owns Tinder, Match.com and other online-dating properties — wrote a letter about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that was posted Tuesday on the company’s website and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In it, she said that the length of Tinder users’ conversations increased 10% to 30% after the virus struck their countries, but services were struggling to attract new users (especially those older than 30) and paying subscribers in countries hit hard by infections.

“In Europe, we’ve seen new subscriber declines of around 5% in aggregate since the crisis began, but in countries severely impacted by COVID-19, like Italy and Spain, we have seen more significant declines,” CEO Shar Dubey wrote. “In the U.S., the impact also depends on the level of cases in the region and varies by brand. For example, Tinder in New York State has seen low double-digit declines in new subscribers since the outbreak accelerated, but much of the rest of the country has held up much better.”

See also: This is why loneliness and dating apps are such a bad match

As a result, Dubey said that Match was looking to “pivot” to quickly add video chat to more of its services. Dubey said Match had begun rolling out video chat on two services, Plenty of Fish and Twoo, and that usage had “exceeded our expectations.” The company now plans to roll out one-on-one video-chat services on its namesake Match.com service in early April.

“As nearly every aspect of our lives is now conducted via video, singles are also becoming increasingly comfortable with video dates, and we are integrating video chat into our apps,” she wrote. “We have offered video chat features in the past and seen low usage, but we think this time user behavior is likely to change more permanently.”

Match did not mention any plans for video on Tinder, its mobile-focused dating app. A spokeswoman said that the company had nothing to add beyond the letter.

The company also did not mention if it plans to charge for any video-chat offerings as part of subscription services like Tinder Gold, which have powered much of Match Group’s gains in recent years. Earlier this month, JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth cut his target for Match’s 2020 revenue by 15% because he expected to see “less social interaction likely weighing on dating subscriptions, which are largely month-to-month & easy to turn on and off.”

Jefferies analysts raised their price target after the news Tuesday, because Dubey said that Match’s first-quarter results would likely come in at the low end of the company’s guidance range, which called for sales of $545 million to $555 million. The analysts wrote that performance was better than feared, and the letter suggested Match “was likely on pace to exceed 1Q expectations prior to the COVID dynamic.”

“No recession in love,” they wrote, while bumping the target to $74 from $65.

Read: More people meet online than through friends or family or work

The letter also noted that the company’s divorce from parent company IAC/Interactive Corp.

IAC, -0.43%

 is on track to be completed in the second quarter, but the pandemic could impact that as well.

Match stock declined 19.6% to a market cap of roughly $18.7 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as the novel coronavirus spread across the globe, roughly in line with an 18.7% decline for the S&P 500 index

SPX, -1.60%

 . Shares fell 2.1% in late trading Tuesday. No analysts tracked by FactSet suggest selling the stock, with 10 rating it a buy and eight rating the shares as a hold.



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Trump’s mileage-standard rollback will cost consumers and the climate, say analysts


President Trump has passed the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards for new autos, a hard-fought regulatory battle that for now reduces targets on gas mileage and is expected to revive higher levels of emissions.

The rule change, softened from its initial language, had repeatedly been delayed and amended, in part due to a lukewarm response from an auto industry that had retooled for the tougher Obama-era regulations, adjusted to a mixed bag of state-by-state rules and was responding to a changing demographic of car and truck buyers who want a smaller carbon footprint. Both sides are bracing for expected court battles to challenge the rule change.

The Trump administration had long advocated for a reversal of the stance established during the Obama administration that had called for an unadjusted fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Alternative-energy advocates believed the higher requirement would have helped promote a shift to electrified vehicles.

Trump wanted a full freeze on fuel-economy increases initially, but the final proposal reportedly settles on a 1.5% increase in efficiency for passenger cars and light trucks covering model years 2021 through 2026, pared from the current trajectory of 5%. Fuel efficiency in 2018 averaged 25.1 mpg in real-world driving (not just test driving), the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report issued in March. The fleet’s efficiency is preliminarily anticipated to have climbed to 25.5 mpg for the 2019 model year.

The Trump administration “is rolling back the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming, cut oil use and save money at the pump,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign at the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety.

“He is rejecting cleaner, efficient cars in favor of pollution-spewing, gas-guzzling Trump-mobiles for urban cowboys hauling lattes home from Starbucks, costing Americans billions of dollars at the pump and causing tens of thousands of deaths from air pollution,” he said.

Some analysis of the possible rollback indicated less efficient cars than originally proposed would use more gas than expected and so raise driving costs for consumers by $300 billion in coming years at the pump, according to a Consumer Reports assessment of Energy Department data.

However, those in favor of the Trump change argued that the old rules were not uniformly followed, among other sticking points, including that lighter cars mean less-safe cars. The administration has named its efforts the “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule.”

The rule change also would revoke California’s five-year old “waiver” allowing the state to implement its own more-stringent greenhouse gas standards and offer promotions for low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicles. Finally, it will restrict programs in more than a dozen other states that have followed California’s lead.

Some of the concern about the relaxed rule has centered on political upheaval, including whether yet another change might come with a potential shift of party power after the 2020 election.

“The federal government should establish a predictable, year-over-year increase in fuel efficiency standards for the next decade,” Charles Hernick, director of policy and advocacy for the center-right Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, has written as the rollback took shape over the last couple of years. “Periodic course corrections will be necessary, but those corrections should be incremental and not include steep ‘ramp ups’ or ‘freezes’ in standards.”

Hernick said his group was opposed to Trump’s original proposal but is more aligned with the final version.

Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis has commented that when Congress created the CAFE program in 1970s — when new cars were required to average all of 18 miles per gallon — it specially forbade states from adopting their own stronger rules because this would greatly increase the costs of compliance to manufacturers.

Large-market California has had a waiver under the Clean Air Act to set its own auto-emissions requirements separate from the federal mandates, and those rules are followed by 12 other states. Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists said California will be among many interested parties that will challenge the federal change in court. The continued uncertainty could bring more aggravation for manufacturers and consumers.

Ford

F, -3.48%

 , BMW, Honda and Volkswagen last year negotiated a deal with California to follow a slightly lower state target, in defiance of Trump at the time.

The Trump rule change was eventually backed by some manufacturers, including General Motors

GM, +0.21%

 , Fiat Chrysler

FCAU, +1.87%

  and Toyota

TM, -3.54%

 — all of whom have been responding to rising demand for ever-more-efficient cars from green-minded younger buyers and many developing their own EV responses.

David Friedman, vice president of advocacy for nonprofit Consumer Reports, said the administration’s timing will hurt households that could be slow to recover from COVID-19’s hit to the job market and monthly budgets: less-efficient cars than planned rolling off the line will mean higher totals at the gas pump and could bring a slowdown of new-car purchases at a time the economy is trying to rebound from the pandemic.

According to Friedman, any assumption of long-term low gas prices offsetting the fuel-efficiency change assumes an unlikely failure of the economy to bounce back. After the Great Recession of 2008, for instance, gas prices bounced back in less than three years. However, even if gas prices went down to $1.50 per gallon on average and stayed there for the next 30 years, the rollback would still increase new vehicle total cost of ownership for consumers, he argues, based on the 1.5% annual fuel economy increases (down from about 5% today).

Ken Locklin, director at Impax Asset Management, questions the economics in a different way. He noted the administration is easing regulations for a traditional auto sector that employs about half the number of people working in the fuel-efficiency technology market. Global investors, he said, will funnel their money to where the innovation is, including outside the U.S.

Read: Cars reached record fuel efficiency, EPA data shows, just in time for a Trump rollback

The decision to scrap the Obama fuel-economy targets and strip California of its autonomy are intended to make vehicles overall less expensive, and thus encourage consumers to buy newer, safer vehicles, the Trump administration’s EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler has said in speeches, including to the Detroit Economic Club.

What’s more, critics of the Obama-era rules have said the prevalence of loopholes has meant that only three auto makers actually complied with U.S. fuel efficiency standards.

One way car makers complied with increasing fuel economy standards was by using regulatory credits they stockpiled from previous years or purchased from competitors, rather than push technological change.

The EPA report, covering 2017, showed Fiat Chrysler purchased a significant number of vehicle emissions credits, while Tesla Inc.

TSLA, +5.26%

 , Honda Motor Co.

HMC, -3.97%

  and Toyota sold credits. Daimler AG, Volkswagen and BMW AG

BMW, +3.03%

  also bought credits.

The tougher standards had meant that companies were not only drawing down saved credits, but were banking or selling fewer new credits. All but a few auto makers had to rely on credits, not necessarily innovation or model changes, to meet the standard. The shortage of credits was seen driving up their trading value, enriching some companies with credits to spare while putting others at risk of non-compliance and creating an imbalance in the sector that the Trump changes have sought to smooth.

Paul Billings, senior vice president of advocacy at the American Lung Association, said the change “will have drastic consequences on health.” His group predicts the higher level of pollution created by lower fuel economy will result in the deaths of up to 10,000 Americans by 2035.

The Trump administration has been broadly promoting a regulation-lite agenda, including during the COVID-19 crisis, by allowing for looser enforcement of polluting.

Billings warned against climate-focused regulatory easing that he argues has come under the guise of a policy response to COVID-19 without long-term thinking for health. That includes a waiver for oil producers, including BP

BP, +1.86%

 , Chevron

CVX, +0.14%

  and others, who were walloped by a drop in demand, allowing them to forgo their typical summer-grade gasoline reformulation meant to cut pollution during high-driving season.

Clearly, thinking on fuel policy is more than seasonal for environmental analysts.

“Improvements in vehicle, lighting and appliance efficiency have been successful in slowing the pace of emissions growth in transportation and buildings (and perhaps even halting it in transportation while higher fuel-efficiency standards were in place), but it will require much more than efficiency to achieve meaningful absolute declines,” said Trevor Houser and Hannah Pitt, writing earlier this year for energy-research firm Rhodium Group. “Large-scale fuel substitution (to decarbonized electricity and other zero-carbon fuels) will be required.”

Read: Coal plunge sends U.S. emissions lower — but the rest of the economy still pollutes



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