SNAPSHOT: The Fossil Industry Goes for Broke

 
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The top-line fossil sector news in 2018 made it tough to imagine the collapse of one of the world’s most powerful and politically connected industries. But while fossils held onto their considerable financial and political control over energy worldwide, deep cracks started to appear for the first time that will ultimately challenge their long-term dominance.

Coal closures were commonplace in 2018, oil and gas prices fluctuated wildly, and the realization increasingly dawned that proven hydrocarbon reserves can and must stay in the ground. But while the industry began to buckle under the weight of a global transition it could not stop, that shift was not keeping pace with countries’ commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, much less the urgent 1.5°C target set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in early October.

The Collapse of Coal

The most obvious, pervasive sign of fossil industry distress was the accelerating collapse of what was once a dominant coal industry. But coal plants were still operating in 2018, new ones were still being built, and the industry’s decline fell far short of the Paris targets. While momentum was quickly shifting away from the electricity source that will have to be the first phased out in any reasonable post-carbon pathway, there was still much more to be done as 2018 drew to a close.

The year opened on news that renewable energy in the European Union had outpaced coal in 2017, but the continent was still short of a full phaseout. Germany faced increased pressure to make the phaseout happen. France declared a 2021 phaseout deadline, less than a month after introducing a fossil production ban that would keep five billion barrels in the ground. Finland set a 2029 coal phaseout date and offered subsidies for faster action.

Spain’s new government unveiled a €250-million job transition fund to support its plan to shut down most coal mines by the end of the year. Canada’s coal phaseout was expected to eliminate 16 megatonnes of carbon pollution by 2030 and 100 megatonnes by 2055, and the co-chair of its Just Transition Task Force asked for a longer time span for job retraining funds. Renewable energy installations exceeded fossil capacity for the first time ever in the United Kingdom, where subsidy-free renewables and affordable storage were expected to leave natural gas out in the cold by 2030, and private sector action was speeding coal’s demise in Australia, despite the intentions of its pro-coal Liberal Coalition government.

Coal’s dominance in India was threatened by falling solar costs and mounting air pollution. New research showed 40% of China’s coal plants losing money, though the country quietly restarted construction on 46.7 gigawatts of new capacity. In Japan, other big industrials were expected to follow Tokyo-based conglomerate Marubeni’s lead after it signaled its exit from coal. Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines were on track to lose US$60 billion on stranded coal assets in the next decade, and South Africa laid plans to replace coal and nuclear capacity with renewables and natural gas.

In the United States, power utilities hit an inflexion point, with solar and wind farms coming in less costly to own and operate than coal plants that were already built and paid for. Regional grid manager PJM Interconnection determined that power utility FirstEnergy Solutions could shut down four gigawatts—four billion watts—of existing coal capacity without compromising grid reliability, even as U.S. coal barons’ wish list became Donald Trump’s to-do list. Despite the former reality TV star’s best efforts, U.S. government data showed a promised coal recovery evaporating. Trump’s own appointees to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected his bailout plan for financially stressed coal and nuclear utilities, and the massive, 2,250-megawatt Navajo coal station in Arizona faced the reality of a 2019 closure date after a potential new owner backed out. Separate reports by the World Bank and the U.S. Energy Information Administration pointed to the futility of trying to rebuild the world’s rapidly failing coal industry.

Delegates to the IPCC meeting on low-carbon pathways in Incheon, South Korea, considered drastic coal cuts as a way to protect the 1.5°C target, and Bloomberg News analyst David Fickling said coal consumption just might achieve the required 60% reduction by 2030. But Carbon Tracker warned that coal plant retirements would have to triple just to match up with the Paris targets, and Oil Change International scorched the International Energy Agency for a set of future scenarios that would take climate change over the cliff.

Extreme Oil Meets Supply-Side Campaigning

After many years of determined, creative effort to reduce demand for fossil energy, campaigners pushed for a wider mix of decarbonization strategies, with a stepped-up focus on keeping known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

Economists Fergus Green of the London School of Economics and Richard Denniss of the Australia Institute earned a thumbs-up from veteran Vox.com climate columnist David Roberts for their “cogent argument that the activists are onto something—that restrictive supply-side (RSS) climate policies have unique economic and political benefits and deserve a place alongside carbon prices and renewable energy supports in the climate policy toolkit.” The Stockholm Environment Institute said new fossil infrastructure imperils domestic and global climate goals. Earth scientist David Hughes showed that Canada will never meet its Paris Agreement targets if it keeps on scaling up oil and gas infrastructure, and Oil Change Senior Advisor Adam Scott pointed to Canadian fossils’ late-fall production cuts as a remarkable example of what a managed decline could look like. Fossil analysts at Wood Mackenzie concluded that a 2035 target for the off-fossil transition to reach the point of no return was too late to meet the IPCC’s 1.5°C target. Securing America’s Future Energy cast the country’s military spending as a minimum US$81-billion subsidy to the fossil industry

New Zealand banned new oil and gas exploration, while Danish Oil and Natural Gas renamed itself for noted Danish physicist and chemist Hans Christian Ørsted (over the legal objections of their new namesake’s descendants) and completed its transformation into an offshore wind powerhouse. California was told in no uncertain terms that it must phase out its fossil fuel production or lose its status as a climate change leader. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) looked askance at the business case for the new Teck Resources tar sands/oil sands megaproject in Alberta, and ExxonMobil subsidiary Imperial Oil announced a new bitumen project of its own, just as some of the province’s biggest fossils began cutting back production.

Renewables Win on Price

The other memo many fossils seemed to be missing was that the shift to renewable energy was continuing as the cost of renewables and energy storage continued to fall.

Oxford, U.K.-based Aurora Energy Research Ltd concluded that fossil companies stood to lose US$19 trillion in income by 2040, as cumulative electric vehicle sales hit 540 million and oil demand peaked in less than a decade. A Carbon Tracker analysis released at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco showed fossil demand peaking in 2023. The economics of new coal and natural gas plants crumbled, Denver-based Xcel Energy said renewables were already undercutting the cost of existing fossil generation, and a study in the journal Nature Climate Change cautioned that a carbon bubble driven by cheap renewables could trigger a global economic crisis. Investment executives advised oil and gas to “face its future as a declining industry” and leave it to financial professionals to allocate the US$29 trillion that will be needed by 2050 to decarbonize the global energy system

Fossils Fight Back

Several fossil companies faced sustained pressure from their own investors. An annual general meeting resolution asked TransCanada Corporation to assess the business risk it faces in the low-carbon transition, and Kinder Morgan shareholders demanded the company report on its sustainability practices and climate-related investment risk. “As you are probably aware, these proposals are non-binding,” Executive Chair Rich Kinder said in a statement following the vote. IEEFA said ExxonMobil shareholders committed a “failure of epic proportions,” after an earlier push to hold the company’s board to a higher standard of climate risk disclosure fizzled, and New York said it would see Exxon in court.

But the company was undeterred, with management doubling down on future oil and gas production even as a former executive urged fossils to get with the program. BP foresaw its emissions rising through 2040, with oil demand peaking at 110 million barrels per day, and CEO Bob Dudley called for trillions in new fossil spending. Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden refused to set a carbon reduction target after his company sustained a shareholder grilling on its greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately pursuing a strategy of extracting all its fossil fuel reserves before they become stranded assets. A lawsuit asserted that #shellknew about the dangers of climate change as far back as 1988. In early December, Shell became the world’s first colossal fossil to tie executive pay to greenhouse gas reductions. OPEC expected oil to draw US$11 trillion in new investment through 2040.

Carbon disclosure and pricing emerged as mainstream practices for investors and big businesses, and fossil-focused Houston, Texas, recognized that it faces Rust Belt status if it fails to embrace a renewable energy future. The Petroleum Services Association of Canada said it would lobby the Canadian government for an energy industry that includes renewables as well as fossils.

But taxpayers were still underwriting the fossil industries their governments needed to rein in in time to deliver on the post-carbon transition. The Trump administration used tax breaks and regulatory fixes to keep U.S. pipeliners and coal operators afloat; OECD countries issued fossil fuel subsidies worth at least US$373 billion as recently as 2015; and the average Canadian tax return included a $234 giveaway to Big Oil, even though two-thirds of those taxpayers opposed fossil subsidies. During midterm elections in November, U.S. citizens in 24 states seized control of the energy agenda with a total of 64 ballot initiatives, though fossils won big in Arizona, Colorado, and Washington State when they chose to throw their overwhelming financial weight around on specific ballot issues. U.S. fossils lost control of the climate denial network they had spawned, but still sought the right PR strategies to fight public opinion and slow down the shift away from fossil fuels.

Pollution in All Places

The fossil industry continued to do severe damage to the atmosphere and the environment, even as its business model became more and more tenuous.

NASA pointed a finger at natural gas as the clear culprit in spiking methane emissions, and Oil Change said G20 countries’ plans for new gas infrastructure would undercut their climate promises. Fracking needed a 329-fold reduction in its environmental impact to match the sustainability of renewables, and fossils geared up for a new wave of liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion. The LNG Canada consortium approved a C$40-billion megaproject in British Columbia, three more Canadian LNG projects inched toward construction in 2019, and the Squamish Nation in British Columbia approved a C$1.1-billion impact and benefit agreement with the Woodfibre LNG project.

As the reality of declining gasoline demand began to set in, fossils launched a US$186-billion investment binge in future plastic pollution, betting big that plastics and petrochemical demand would be enough to offset emission reductions in other sectors. Tar sands/oil sands producers began searching for bitumen products “beyond combustion,” while some U.S. states looked to the petrochemical boom to turn the Rust Belt into the Plastics Belt.

After Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna approved oil and gas drilling off the Nova Scotia coast, it took less than four months for BP’s “safe” offshore drilling program about 330 kilometres east of Halifax to spill 136,000 litres of toxic mud into the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. risk mitigation specialist Dr. Robert Bea, leader of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group and co-founder of the U.S. Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, concluded that BP had underestimated the risk of a “sustained, uncontrolled blowout.”

After the Newfoundland and Labrador government set a 12-year strategy to step up its search for offshore oil, Husky Oil’s SeaRose offshore drilling platform lost 250,000 litres in a major storm, producing the region’s worst oil spill ever and putting seabirds at risk of an agonizing death. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers got special advance access to federal marine protection regulations for the Laurentian Channel, a biologically diverse portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence southwest of Newfoundland, and the 2018 federal budget included major funding for a protected areas strategy but no action on fossil fuel subsidies. European Union parliamentarians noticed a revolving door between public sector regulatory positions and the fossil industry.

A wave of opposition greeted a White House plan to expand offshore oil drilling, with coastal states worried about putting tourism and recreation businesses at risk. “Ain’t gonna happen. Not on my watch!” declared South Carolina state representative Nancy Mace, a newly elected legislator described by the Washington Post as a former Trump campaign worker and fiscal conservative.

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$16,752 Power Bill was a Feature, Not a Bug, in Texas’ Market-Driven Electricity System

With one Texas ratepayer looking at a US$16,752 power bill, and another down to her last $200 after her electricity reseller cleaned out her bank account, the architect of the state’s deregulated electricity market says it’s functioning exactly as it’s supposed to.

Texas Blackouts Highlight Disaster Risk for U.S., Canadian Utilities

With many Texans still scrambling to recover from a week of freezing cold weather, power blackouts, and water shortages, early analysis in the United States and Canada is pointing to the episode as a wake-up call for grid operators—and electricity users—across the continent.

Lots of Hype, Little Help in Corporate Embrace of Carbon Capture

As some of the world’s heaviest corporate emitters double down on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as their go-to path to net-zero, activists and experts are warning that such efforts often amount to little more than greenwashing and distraction.

Fort McKay First Nation, Alberta Sign Land Management Deal

Departing OECD Head Urges ‘Big, Fat Price on Carbon’

Thailand’s 2-MW Floating Solar Project Goes Online

Massive Fire Follows Fuel Tanker Blast at Afghanistan-Iran Border

U.S. Utility Giant Duke Plans to Build 15 New Gas Plants, Retire Them Early

Family Day Rally in New Westminster Stands Against TMX Expansion

Northeastern B.C. Fracking Town Sees Fossil Merger as Sign of New Production Boom

Fort Nelson First Nation to Start Geothermal Drilling in June

Colorado Utility Says Emissions Down 50% from 2005 Levels

Washington State Guide Helps Utilities’ Drive for Coal-Free by 2025

Long-Duration Storage Could Find ‘Enormous’ Market in Developing Countries

Denmark, Belgium to Connect Grids through Offshore Renewables Island

Accelerate Renewables Investment, Caribbean Analyst Urges

Southern Peru Sees Key Role in Geothermal

China Requires Grids to Buy Minimum 40% Renewables by 2030

Oilfield Services Giant Schlumberger Looks to CCS for Cement Plants

Study Looks at Energy Taxes, Fossil Subsidy Reform for Green Recovery

BREAKING: Texas Was ‘Seconds and Minutes’ from Months-Long Blackouts, Grid Operator Admits

At least 47 people were dead, hundreds of thousands of homes were still without power, half of the state was under a boil water order, racialized communities were bearing the brunt, and the electricity system operator admitted it had only narrowly averted months-long blackouts as Texas began taking stock of a rolling disaster brought on by climate-driven severe weather and ideologically-driven grid deregulation.

California Senate Bill Would Halt New Fracking, Set 2027 ban

Citing the “existential threat” of the climate crisis, two California senators have introduced a bill that would sharply curtail fracking in the state—and eventually ban it outright. And despite the predictable backlash from fossil interests, the bill makes explicit a commitment to a just transition.

Alberta Business Council Calls for Provincial Sales Tax, Reinstated Carbon Tax

A business council with representation from virtually all the major fossil companies in Alberta is calling on the Jason Kenney government to introduce a provincial sales tax and reinstate a consumer carbon tax.

Ottawa Underestimates Carbon Tax Rebates after Revenue Exceeds Predictions

The federal government owes Canadian families in three provinces more than C$200 million after underestimating how much it would raise from the carbon tax during the first year of the program.

New U.S. Scenarios Show State-by-State Benefits of Net-Zero Shift

A modelling study published earlier this month by three U.S. organizations breaks down the state-by-state benefits the country can expect from the drive to a net-zero economy by 2050.

Teachers, Youth Fight Fossil Influence in U.S. Schools

The heavy influence of Big Oil in U.S. teaching materials and a lack of support for educating students about climate change has left many American children ignorant about the climate crisis and its solutions. But some teachers and youth are fighting back against the lies and condescension.

Giant Whales, and Their Giant Poop, Serve as Natural Carbon Sinks

The Earth’s great whales are magnificent, intelligent, and peaceful. But new research shows that they also help keep the planet cool—in life, and in death. Such knowledge has put a new urgency to the call to “save the whales,” as doing so may also help cool the climate.

Bitcoin Draws as Much Electricity as Argentina as Consumption Quadruples in Four Years

With the computing power that drives the popular cryptocurrency bitcoin now consuming nearly as much energy as Argentina, analysts are warning the renegade technology’s carbon footprint will only get worse as it becomes more popular.

U.S. Grid Operators Look for Gigawatt-Scale Storage

Salesforce ‘Work from Anywhere’ Order Could Shake Up Downtown San Francisco

141 Groups Urge Fossil Extraction Moratorium in Greenland

Detroit Project Extends Solar Ownership to Low-Income Tenants

‘Migratory Bird Massacre’ Greenlighted by Trump Admin Can Still Be Stopped

U.S. Municipal Bonds Help Drive Green Economy

Microsoft Pours Investment into Climeworks Direct Air Capture Technology

New Zealand Aims for Decarbonized Buses, Clean Car Imports

Houston-Based Marathon Oil Cuts CEO Pay, Raises Pollution Control Targets

Exxon, State Fossil Petrobras Strike Oil Off Brazil Coast

Fossils Begin 50-Million-Barrel Drilling Project in North Sea

PepsiCo Takes On ‘Absolutely Aggressive Challenge’ for Carbon Neutrality by 2040

Brutal Cold Snap Triggers Rolling Blackouts, Drives Up Power Costs as Texas Gas Plants Fail

A brutal blast of cold, winter weather this week killed at least 14 people in four U.S. states, dropped snow and ice on an area from Texas to New England, took 34,000 megawatts of power offline in Texas, drove wholesale electricity rates up by more than 10,000%—and prompted a brief, inevitable burst of complaints directed at the state’s wind farms, before it became clear that most of the missing electricity was from the state’s gas plants.

Peg Social Cost of Carbon at $100 Per Tonne, Economists Urge Biden

Two eminent economists are urging the Biden administration to peg the social cost of carbon at a minimum US$100 per tonne or risk underestimating what Bloomberg Green calls the “looming damage from warming temperatures”.

Line 3 Pipeline Runs $1.1 Billion Over Budget as Eleventh-Hour Opposition Mounts

Construction of the U.S. portion of the Line 3 pipeline will cost $1.1 billion more than expected due to regulatory and court delays in Minnesota, but the CEO of owner Enbridge Inc. says the project is on track to start delivering “lots of free cash flow” by late this year.

Explainer: IISD Lays Out Pros and Cons of Subsidizing Hydrogen Development

As countries chart paths to net-zero economies by 2050, hydrogen has enjoyed a new wave of attention. But a key question facing governments is whether the benefits of subsidizing hydrogen development outweigh the risks, the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Richard Bridle and Estan Beedell note in a detailed explainer.

Vista Coal Mine Lays Off 300 in Alberta

Denmark Approves North Sea Renewable Energy Island

Report Calls for Chinese Aluminum Producers to Cut Inefficient Coal Plants

Calgary Tech Start-Up Raises $43M, Raises Hopes in Busted Oilpatch Economy

Work-from-Home Has Power Corp. Dumping Penthouse Suite in Downtown Toronto Office Tower

Regulations Could Deal Fatal Blow to Oregon LNG Exports

Battery Storage Scores First Big Win with New England Utilities

Ohio Regulatory Hearing Shows Strong Support for New Solar Farms

Spain Plans to Double Energy Storage Capacity by 2030

100-MW Wind Farm Starts Up in Kenya

Japanese Trading House Sumimoto Swears Off New Oil Investments

Croatia Turns to Adriatic for Offshore Wind

Colossal Fossil Equinor Writes Off $982M Loss on Tanzania LNG Plant

Floating Power Plant Providers Pitch Oil, LNG for West Africa

Malaysia Turns to Net Metering for 50 MW of Rooftop Solar

UK Think Tank Urges Mandatory EV Chargers at Petrol Stations

Australian Renewables Rise as Gas-Fired Electricity Hits Lowest Point Since 2006

Kenya to Add Solar to 22 Diesel Mini-Grids

Shareholders Squirm, Climate Analysts Pounce as Shell Releases ‘Grotesque’, ‘Delusional’ Climate Plan

Colossal fossil Royal Dutch Shell is taking criticism from all sides for its latest attempt at a decarbonization strategy, with fossil-friendly investors driving its share price down 2% after last week’s announcement while climate campaigners declare the plan “grotesque” and “delusional”.

Wilkinson, McCarthy Hold First Talks on Cross-Border Climate Action

With a new administration in Washington, DC setting climate action as one of its four defining priorities, Canadian Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has opened conversations with his U.S. counterpart on “an array of potential new agreements” for cross-border cooperation, the Globe and Mail reports.

Valentine’s Day Campaign, New Research Highlight B.C. Subsidies to Top Fracking Companies

“Roses are red/Money is green/Thanks for the cheque/Glad we’re on the same team.”
That’s the tone of a series of valentines released late last week by Dogwood BC, this one addressed from fossil producer Encana (now Ovintiv) to Premier John Horgan, just days after a four-page analysis by the Wilderness Committee listed the subsidies going to the province’s top 10 fracking companies.

Appalachia Counties Lose Jobs, Population Despite Massive Fracking Boom

The 22 counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio that have been at the centre of an extraordinary, decade-long fracking boom have seen very little job creation or economic gain as a result, concludes a new study released last week by the Pennsylvania-based Ohio River Valley Institute.

Alberta’s Reinstated Coal Policy Leaves Gaping Opportunities for Mining

Its recent mea culpa notwithstanding, the Jason Kenney government in Alberta has by no means closed the barn door on the idea of metallurgical coal mining in the beloved, and ecologically sensitive, eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Fact Checker Scorches Kenney’s Keystone Claims as Premier’s Political Woes Deepen

The Edmonton-based Parkland Institute is out with a detailed fact check of Premier Jason Kenney’s recent pronouncements on the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, while Maclean’s magazine speculates on whether this is the job Kenney was looking for when he sought the Alberta premiership.

Twitter ‘Greentrolling’ Throws a Wrench in Big Oil’s Media Machine

Long masters of the art of controlling the message in traditional media, Big Oil is finding social media—and its fact-checking, falsehood-revealing denizens—far less easy to manage.

Kolbert’s Geoengineering Review Contrasts Bright Ideas with More Controversial Schemes

An enthusiastic—if imperfect—command of our technological powers has made humanity the dominant force on Earth, and we human beings are unlikely to stop monkeying around with nature. But some of our ideas may prove better than others, says author Elizabeth Kolbert.

Alberta, B.C. Receive New Funding Under Federal Oil Well Cleanup Program

The Alberta, British Columbia, and federal governments have unveiled a new round of funding to help clean up inactive oil and gas sites in the province, including C$400 million in Alberta and $120 million for B.C.

Trudeau Rejects NAFTA Challenge Over Keystone Cancellation

Court Agrees to Delay Decision on Dakota Access Pipeline Shutdown

New Brunswick Announces $20 Million for Small Modular Reactors

Advocates Push Teachers’ Pension Fund on Green Shift

Chevron’s Richmond Oil Refinery Spills 600 Gallons into San Francisco Bay

Renewables Will Dominate U.S. Grid in 10 Years: EIA

Judge Demands Social Cost of Carbon Calculation for Montana-Wyoming Coal Mine

Romania Sweetens Rebates for Rooftop Solar

Japan Develops New Procurement System for Renewables

IEA Sees India Solar Output Pulling Even with Coal in 2040

UK Nuclear Project Reports Rising Costs, Missed Deadlines

Egypt Pushes to Increase LNG Exports

South Africa Miner Promises No New Coal Projects

National Programs Point to ‘Explosion’ of Interest in Hydrogen

EXCLUSIVE: Study Shows Governments’ Oil and Gas Revenue Crashing as Decarbonization Takes Hold

Canadian governments stand to lose more than half of their revenue from oil and gas activities through 2040, and nearly nine-tenths of the taxes and royalties the industry says they will collect, as the global economy decarbonizes and shifts away from fossil fuel production, the UK-based Carbon Tracker Initiative concludes in an analysis released this week.

Ecojustice Goes to Court Against Alberta’s ‘Foreign-Funded Influence’ Panel

A judge in Calgary was to hear arguments this week over whether Alberta’s public inquiry into the purported foreign funding of environmental charities is a valid defence of the province’s ailing oil industry or an attempt to silence dissent.

Ex-Exxon Engineer Personifies ‘Generational Schism’ Facing Millennial Oil and Gas Workers

As pressure on climate-unfriendly Big Fossil builds, so does the sense of disillusionment among the industry’s younger employees, for whom climate change is a real and present danger—for themselves and for their children.

Study Shows U.S. Decarbonizing by 2050 for $1 Per Person Per Day

The United States—per head of population perhaps the world’s most prodigal emitter of greenhouse gases—can reverse that and have a carbon-free future within three decades, at a cost of no more than $1 per person per day, according to a new study in the journal AGU Advances.

Enviros Warn California Blackout Prevention Plan Could Drive Up Gas Consumption

London Hedge Funds Bet on US$100 Carbon Price

Alberta Looks to Lithium in Oil Deposits to Stock Electric Vehicle Batteries

Students Demand Faster Action After UVic Moves $80 Million to Low-Carbon Investment Fund

New Owner Takes Over Quebec Uranium Mine Site

Suncor Restarts Emission Reduction Projects Despite Spending Freeze

U.S. Fossil Utilities Fund Republicans in Georgia Runoff Elections

Integrating Clean Energy Options Could Create ‘Paradigm Shift’, U.S. Researchers Find

South Africa Aims to Buy 6,800 MW of Renewables this Year

Foreign Funders Bolster India’s Green Energy Ambitions

China Designates Tidal Flat for 300-MW Solar Project

Australia’s ‘Do-Nothing’ EV Strategy Won’t Stop Emissions from Rising

Utility Giant RWE Sues for €2 Billion in Netherlands Coal Exit

Norway Probes Corruption in National Oil Companies

Shale Producer Chesapeake Lays Off 15% of Work Force After Emerging from Bankruptcy

Microsoft Claims 6% Emissions Cut in One Year

Australia Would Need 74% Emissions Cut by 2030 to Align with 1.5°C

Report Shows 330 Companies Moving Faster than Paris Targets

Child cycling with a mask

Fossil Fuel Pollution Caused 8.7 Million Premature Deaths in 2018, New Study Finds

Fossil fuel pollution killed 8.7 million people prematurely in 2018—more than 18% of the total global death toll that year, and more than twice the impact calculated in recent research—according to a new study published this week in the journal Environmental Research.

Canada Can Thrive on Road to Net-Zero if Governments Make Good Decisions Now

Canada has multiple opportunities to thrive along the road to a net-zero economy by 2050 as long as governments make the right decisions now, concludes a study released this week by the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC).

U.S. Can Save $3.5 Trillion by Launching Climate Transition Today, Not Waiting Until 2030

The United States can save US$3.5 trillion by launching a serious greenhouse gas reduction effort now, rather than waiting until 2030—without even factoring in the public health benefits of fossil fuel reductions, or the avoided cost of climate-driven extreme weather, according to a new report by San Francisco-based Energy Innovation.

Capital Markets ‘Shift Decisively’ Out of Oil and Gas as Investors Place Their Bets on Renewables

Investors are increasingly placing their bets with renewable energy and abandoning oil and gas, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reports, in an analysis that shows capital markets “shifting decisively towards cleaner investments”.

http://midwestenergynews.com/2013/10/24/as-pipeline-concerns-mount-a-renewed-focus-on-the-great-lakes-enbridge-mackinac-line-5/

Line 5 Pipeline Battle Produces Overheated Claims on Job vs. Environment

As officials in Michigan look to shut down the Line 5 pipeline, business interests in Ontario and Quebec are warning of dire economic effects. But others—like Green Party Leader Annamie Paul—say there are opportunities, too, and that presenting the pipeline as a choice between jobs and the environment is a false, and dangerous, dichotomy.

Coal mining

Loopholes Still Allow Mountaintop Mining, Law Prof Warns, after Alberta Reinstates 1976 Coal Policy

Doubts are being raised about the Alberta government’s decision to restore a policy that protects the Rocky Mountains from coal mining.

Alberta Fossil Cenovus Declares $100-Million Loss on Keystone XL Cancellation

The cancellation of the Keystone XL oil export pipeline has resulted in a second tar sands/oil sands company posting a multi-million-dollar impairment charge in its fourth quarter earnings report.

WE Charity Bans Reference to Oil, Photo of Suzuki After 2016 Event in Alberta

Omar Urges Biden to Block Line 3 Pipeline

Offshore Rig Builder Cites Renewables in Decision to Shut Down Operations

Alberta Builders Pitch Renovation Tax Credit

Nova Scotia Unveils $5.5 Million in Solar Panel Rebates

U.S. Institute Campaigns for 30 Million Solar Homes

North Carolina Solar Rebate is Over-Subscribed in 161 Seconds

Arizona Navajo Fight for Equitable Energy Economy

U.S. Utility Boosts Gas Plant Demand by Overstating Future Energy Demand

Fiji Sets 2036 Target for 100% RE

South Australia Looks for More Options to Add Rooftop Solar

Boeing Claims 100% Biofuel Planes will be Ready by 2030

Sri Lanka Utility Uses ‘Creative Accounting’ to Justify Continuing Coal Reliance

Amazon Bets Big on Natural Gas Vehicles

Researchers Claim Better Process to Turn CO2 into Fuel

EXCLUSIVE: UNESCO Partnership Helps Global Gas Exporters ‘Boost Legitimacy’, Undercuts UN Climate Goals, Analysts Say

The United Nations agency responsible for science, education, culture, and protected areas is undercutting global action on the climate emergency, analysts and campaigners warn, by forming a partnership with a global forum dedicated to promoting and greenwashing natural gas exports.

‘Hydropower Era May Be Over’ as Wind Farms Draw New Investment in Quebec, B.C.

Wind energy investment received twin boosts in Quebec and British Columbia last week, with one of the announcements prompting the Globe and Mail to comment that “the era of building big new hydropower dams in Quebec might be over”.

‘Intense Public Protest’ Prompts Alberta to Restore Some Coal Industry Regulation

The Alberta government says it plans to restore some aspects of a policy it revoked last spring that protected a wide swath of the province’s foothills and mountains from coal mines.
The move has provoked intense public protest.

Tech Sector Helps Diversify Alberta Job Market, But Gains May Not Last

Technology companies are delivering a ray of hope to an Alberta economy facing the combined impact of a global health crisis and shaky demand for oil. But the sector’s success could be precarious as the province competes with other jurisdictions for investment and jobs.

‘Tears of Joy’ as Court Orders Compensation for Shell Pipeline Spills in Nigeria

A European campaign organization responded with “tears of joy”, and a reporter predicted a wave of new litigation after an appeals court in The Hague ruled late last month that colossal fossil Royal Dutch Shell must pay compensation to four Nigerian farmers affected by large pipeline spills between 2004 and 2007.

Permian Basin Drilling Leases Put New Mexico’s Aquifers at Risk

The vast and pristine network of caves that thread through the limestone and gypsum landscape of southeastern New Mexico are otherworldly in their beauty, rich in scientific and cultural revelation—and increasingly threatened by ongoing Permian Basin fossil exploration.

Veteran Negotiators, ‘Dream Team’ of Advocates May Bode Well for COP 26 ‘Moment’

With at least two veteran negotiators back for a repeat engagement, a “dream team” of newer advocates coalescing, and a massive sense of urgency carrying over from 2020, this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow may be shaping up as the biggest COP “moment” since the 2015 Paris Agreement—even with the expected gaps in a major upcoming science report drawing comparisons to “Star Wars without Darth Vader”.

Ottawa Instructs Infrastructure Bank to Invest $1 Billion in Indigenous Projects

Coal Operations in Russia Produce ‘Extraordinary Pollution’, High Death Toll

U.S. Fossil Claims First Shipment of ‘Carbon-Neutral Oil’

EU Transition Fund Won’t Support Gas Projects

Alberta Fossil Sues Province Over Stalled Tar Sands/Oil Sands Project

Despite ‘Tons and Tons of Space’, Canada Lags on Rooftop Solar

Federal, Provincial Governments Fund Heating Efficiency in Manitoba

Investment Bank Morgan Stanley Sees Coal-Free U.S. Grid by 2033

Empire State Building Now Powered by Wind

Biden Supports Nuclear, but Industry Could Still Face Tougher Regulation

Poland Plans to Sideline Coal, Embrace Renewables

Climate Strategy Will Reshape EU Foreign Policy, Cut Oil Imports 79%

WoodMac Foresees Green Hydrogen Costs Falling Fast

60% of North American Fleets Can Save Money by Electrifying

Decarbonizing Cities Means Harmonizing Buildings, Mobility, Infrastructure

Anglo-Russian Firm Pledges Net-Zero Aluminium, Energy by 2050

212,000 Kilometres of New Pipelines World-Wide Would Enable 170 Billion Tonnes of Emissions, Analysts Warn

A 212,000-kilometre network of oil and gas pipelines now in construction or under development around the world could set investors up for US$1 trillion in stranded asset risk, while enabling 170 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over their full operating lives, Global Energy Monitor (GEM) warns in a devastating assessment released this week.

White House Abandons Trump-Era Attacks on Vehicle Efficiency, Methane Standards

The Biden administration is abandoning a controversial Trump-era attempt to challenge California’s legislated authority to set its own tailpipe and methane emission standards under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Alberta Fossil Defence Tactics Ripped Right from Fossil Petro-State Playbook, Analysis Shows

Alberta’s government may brandish democracy when it promotes its oil to the world, but its transparent efforts to silence voices of opposition to fossil fuels come direct from the playbook of some of the world’s most oppressive petro-states, says a new report from Toronto-based Environmental Defence.

‘Fire Yourself’ on Intergovernmental Affairs, UCP Co-Founder Urges Kenney

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is getting some unsolicited advice from the co-founder of the United Conservative Party: fire yourself as intergovernmental affairs minister.

Wyoming Citizens Divided on Economic Shift from Fossil to Renewables

As the low-carbon transition takes hold, fossil-producing Wyoming is at a crossroads. The windy state is grasping at the potential to invest big in renewable power—but old habits die hard, and uncertainty about wind’s ability to deliver has many citizens fearing change.

‘Ending Zero-Sum Green Energy Politics’ Depends on Local Solutions, Win-Win Thinking

A detailed, local pitch for jobs and economic activity will be central to the Biden administration’s push to transform the way the United States produces energy and addresses the climate crisis, writes Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, in a recent opinion piece on the pathway to “ending zero-sum green energy politics”.

Italian Utility Giant Enel to Close All Gas Plants by 2050, Sees No Future in CCS

Italian utility giant Enel SpA is promising net-zero operations by 2050, setting out to eliminate natural gas from its power generation portfolio—and swearing off any effort to offset gas consumption by investing in carbon capture technology.

Report Tracks $67B in Scandinavian Banks’ Fossil Investments Since Paris Agreement

Crédit Suisse, BNP Bow to Campaigners, Drop Amazon Oil Financing

Indigenous Ownership of B.C. Small Hydro Project Boosts Community Health, Well-Being

Black Property Owners at Risk as U.S. Pipeliners Assert Eminent Domain

B.C. Offers 20% Power Subsidy for ‘Clean’ Biofuel, Hydrogen Industries

Vancouver Transit Agency Buys 15 New Electric Buses

Amazon HQ2 Turns to Halifax Start-Up for Lower-Carbon Concrete

Work from Home Pushes Bay Street Firms to Cut Office Footprint

Colorado Plans 90% Air Pollution Cut by 2050

Florida Utility Shutters its Last Coal Station

Iberdola, Danone Build Europe’s Biggest Solar Project in Spain

Norwegian Firm Aims to Make Green Hydrogen Cost-Competitive by 2025

Fossils Plan Biggest Geothermal Investments in Three Decades

Exxon Faces ‘Frustrated Investors’ After First-Ever Financial Loss

Colossal fossil ExxonMobil declared an annual financial loss yesterday for the first time ever, capping a year in which it had to borrow money and sell off assets to manage a US$15.2-billion payout to its shareholders.

Canada and U.S. Drastically Underestimate Methane Emissions as Atmospheric Levels Rise

Federal environmental agencies are underestimating methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells by 20% in the United States and 150% in Canada, according to a McGill University study published late last month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, one of several in recent weeks that have pointed to a mounting crisis in releases of the climate-busting gas.

Ireland Plans to Ban New Oil and Gas Licences, ‘Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground’

The Irish Cabinet has approved a legislated ban on new oil and gas exploration licences, though it still plans to honour existing licences—to the relief of the country’s offshore operators and the dismay of its Labour opposition.

Refocus Infrastructure Spending to Cut Carbon, Create Jobs, Blue Green Canada Urges

Canada is missing a big opportunity to create jobs, cut pollution, and advance a net-zero emissions agenda by failing to prioritize projects that use low-carbon building materials and cleaner construction processes, Blue Green Canada argues in a report issued this week.

New Campaign Presses RBC, Other Canadian Banks to Drop Fossil Investments [How-to Guide]

A series of socially-distanced demonstrations across Canada last Friday kicked off a national campaign to press the Royal Bank of Canada and other big banks to stop investing in fossil fuel projects and respect Indigenous rights.

Musk Faces Headwinds in Bid to Power SpaceX Rockets with Fossil Gas

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk is facing serious criticism for plans to power his other major business venture, SpaceX, with fossil gas.

Solar Will Deliver World’s Cheapest Electricity by 2030, WoodMac Predicts

2020 Sees UK Renewables Overtake Fossils for First Time

445-MW Coal Plant in Tampa to Close in 2023, 18 Years Early

Regulatory Rubber Stamp Sets Nova Scotia Behind on Climate, Coal

Toronto Firm Delivers Renewable Power for Off-Grid Electronic Devices

Toronto Heat Pump Project Shows 36% Saving on Electric Heat

Analyst Suggests Path to Clean Up Ontario’s Hydro ‘Mess’

California Hydrogen Producers Look to Displace Diesel Backup

NYC Takes Top Marks for Carbon-Free Transportation

U.S. Announces $123.6 Billion for Manufacturing Innovation

UAE Claims World’s First Solar Aluminium

Deutsche Bank Sees Climate Regs as Threat to German Automakers

Mining Giant BHP Admits Losses up to $1.25B on Australian Coal Mine

Australia’s Morrison Predicts Decades of Coal Wealth Ahead

Overbuilding, Pricey Coal and LNG Imports Drive Up Power Costs for Bangaldeshis

Denver Sets 2030 Net-Zero Target for New Homes, Buildings

Abu Dhabi Funds Solar Project for 50,000 in Somaliland

Danish Vertical Farm Gets Power from Wind, Produces 1,000 Tons of Food Per Year

Fossils ‘Stunned’, ‘Aghast’ After Biden Pauses New Oil and Gas Leases

North American fossils are declaring themselves “stunned” and “aghast” at the wave of climate action emanating from the White House last week, with U.S. President Joe Biden ordering a pause on new oil and gas leases on federal land and climate advisor Gina McCarthy promising “the most aggressive” greenhouse gas reductions the country can achieve.

Missing Federal Permit, Cancelled Insurance Bond Mean Mounting Legal Woes for Dakota Access Pipeline

Legal and regulatory problems are beginning to pile up for the troubled Dakota Access Pipeline, with a judge asking how the pipeline operator “expects to proceed” without a key federal permit and an insurance company cancelling an important financial guarantee in Iowa.

Alberta Grants Third Deadline Extension to Struggling ‘Foreign-Funded Radicals’ Panel

The Alberta government has given an inquiry into the funding of oil and gas industry critics a third deadline extension to complete its report.

Jason Kenney vs. the Plimsoll Line

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney proved to be “all hat but no horse” when it came to roping and tying down the ill-fated Keystone XL pipeline. Now, after risking billions in taxpayer funds on that folly, it appears he may soon be riding out of town on a one-trick pony. A metaphorical analysis by veteran journalist Paul McKay.

Job Prospects Evaporate, Student Interest Sags as Fossils Scramble for New Talent

A new generation of young professionals is coming back with an eloquent response to the idea that a declining fossil industry is a “slap in the face” to people who’ve set their sights on careers in fields like geology or petroleum engineering.

Impact Assessment Agency to Review Suncor Mine Expansion

South Australia Hits 100% Solar with Lowest Prices in Country

Three New York City Pension Funds Pull $4B Out of Fossil Fuels

France’s Central Bank Sets 2024 Deadline to Dump Coal, Limit Oil and Gas Investments

Cenovus to Lay Off 2,150 as Spending Plan Emphasizes Debt Reduction

Feds Keep Lights Burning in Ottawa Buildings Despite Work from Home

U.S. Fossils Seek Farm Belt Allies to Fight Biden EV Plan

Lakeland, Florida Strikes Deal to Shut 360-MW Coal Plant in March

U.S. EV Charging Company Angles for $2.6 Billion in Public Offering

NREL Looks to Solar for Industrial Process Heat

North Sea Drilling Permits May Hinge on Net-Zero Promises, UK Says

Coal Plant Closure Leaves Portugal with One More in Operation

Cambodia Lines Up Investors for $400M Large Hydro Project

LNG in Vietnam Faces Regulatory, Market Obstacles

Tesla Battery Shipments Up 83% Last Year, Exceed 3 GWh

Three Floating Solar Plants to Deliver 265 MW in Greece

EU Sees Renewable Power Easing Environmental Burdens

Can a City Truly Be 100% Renewable?

Sweeping Biden Executive Orders Halt Fossil Leases, Boost Renewables, Stress Environmental Justice and Scientific Integrity

With a set of three sweeping executive orders Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden launched an abrupt shift from four years of climate denial and inaction. The orders included measures to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, increase its reliance on renewable energy, accelerate government renewables procurement and research, restore scientific integrity, and begin addressing the searing inequities and environmental justice issues that had been allowed to fester under his predecessor’s watch.

CNRL, Imperial, 11 Others Face Rating Downgrades Due to Competition from Renewables

Alberta fossils Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Imperial Oil are on a list of 13 big oil and gas companies that may face rating downgrades within weeks, and Suncor Energy was also assigned a negative outlook, after ratings agency Standard & Poors shifted its risk assessment for the entire fossil industry from “intermediate” to “moderately high”.

‘Net Negative’ Claims from Alberta Fossils Underscore Flaws with Carbon Capture

Two Alberta-based fossil companies are reporting that they’ve reached “net-negative” carbon emissions, thanks to carbon capture technology. But while the news sounds promising for CCS—which experts increasingly believe will be necessary to keep average global warming below 2°C—there are still concerns about how emissions reductions are calculated, and how CCS may reduce the incentive to actually reduce emissions.

Fossil Industry’s Oceans Project Falls Flat After Promising Major Plastics Cleanup

Citing lack of capacity, the fossil industry is walking away from its much-touted Renew Oceans project, a flagship in its pledge to spend US$1.5 billion over five years to help clean up the world’s most polluted rivers.

Discouraging EV Battery Recycling Could Lead to Environmental Disaster

In September, Tesla announced that it would be phasing out the use of cobalt in its batteries, in an effort to produce a US$25,000 electric vehicle within three years. If successful, this bold move will be an industry game changer, making electric vehicles competitive with conventional counterparts.

Incoming New Leader of Merkel’s Party Brings ‘Stained’ Climate Record

North Sea Fossil Work Force Faces Looming Job Cuts

Shopify Founder Drops Investment Dollars into Nuclear Fusion Developer

Construction Set to Start on Montana’s Biggest Wind Farm

170 Jobs Lost as SunPower Shuts Oregon Assembly Plant

Wisconsin Sees Booming Interest in Home Solar

Japan Aims for 50% RE by 2050

Maersk, Total Line Up $100 Million in Suriname Oil Drilling Contracts

UK’s Drax Promises Green Skills for a Million People by 2025

Biden to Pause Oil and Gas Leasing, Emphasize Environmental Justice in ‘Climate Day’ Executive Orders Expected Today

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to pause new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters and unveil an ambitious plan to put environmental justice at the centre of his climate program in a series of executive orders to be signed later today.

Appeal Judge Withholds Key Environmental Permit from Dakota Access Pipeline

A U.S. appeals court has upheld a lower court decision to reject key environmental approvals for the fiercely-contested Dakota Access pipeline, while reiterating its own conclusion that District Judge James E. Boasberg went too far in ordering the pipeline to shut down.

Inventors Unveil New EV Battery that Charges in Five Minutes

An electric vehicle battery that charges in just five minutes is now commercially ready—so long as EV charging systems are up to the task, say its inventors. And BP’s Advanced Mobility division is keen to make that happen.

Alberta Coal Expansion Plan Raises Flags Over Past Toxic Contamination, Missed Monitoring

EDMONTON — Critics are asking why Alberta Environment has been sitting on years’ worth of data about pollution from coal mines while the government considers a dramatic expansion of the industry.

BlackRock Presses Businesses on Climate Disclosure as Campaigners Push BlackRock to Divest

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is receiving media play for endorsing net-zero investments in his annual letter to investors, but taking fire from fossil divestment analysts who see little change in what one group calls the company’s “extremely weak coal commitment”.

TC Energy May Survive Keystone Cancellation Unscathed. Alberta Not So Much.

In the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, analysts say proponent TC Energy should be able to walk away from the intensely controversial megaproject relatively unscathed. But the same can’t be said for the Jason Kenney government in Alberta, whose eleventh-hour subsidy kept the pipeline alive long enough for Biden to shut it down.

BP Slashes Fossil Exploration Team from 700 to 100 as Shift to Renewables Takes Hold

Colossal fossil BP has cut its oil and gas exploration team from more than 700 geologists, engineers, and scientists to fewer than 100, as new CEO Bernard Looney begins reorganizing the company’s operations in response to the climate crisis.

Japanese ‘Environmental’ Fund Finances Vietnam Coal Plant

Polish Utilities Dump Coal for Offshore Wind

6,000 Home Batteries to Help Power Hawai’i’s Green Grid