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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One of the partners in British Columbia’s massive LNG Canada megaproject, Malaysian state fossil Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), is planning to cut global oil and gas production and expand its presence in solar and wind after posting a US$5.06-billion loss between April and June of this year.

Green Recovery Investments May Depend on Making Monetary Theory Cool Again

With the Trudeau government expected to introduce a vision for a just, green recovery in its Speech from the Throne later this month, a profound shift in national monetary policy—yes, monetary policy—is emerging as a cornerstone of the new strategy.

Hundreds of Thousands Face Blackouts, Wildfires, Evacuations as California Heat Wave Continues

Hundreds of thousands of Californians are facing down a continuing, extreme heat wave, while coping with power system blackouts brought on by a new round of uncontrolled wildfires that are “knocking out power plants, triggering evacuations, and threatening to take out the lights no matter how much the state conserves,” Bloomberg Green reports.

The Battle Plan: Key Lessons from the Second World War for the Climate Mobilization (Part 1)

This is the first of two excerpts from Seth Klein’s A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, published in early September and available here. The book includes Klein’s “battle plan”, a set of key lessons for the climate mobilization from the Second World War.

Judge Strikes Down Ontario’s Gas Pump Propaganda Stickers as ‘Blatant Advantage-Seeking’

The Doug Ford government’s gas tank propaganda stickers against the federal floor price on carbon were an “unconstitutional attempt” to force private gas station operators to “stick it to” another order of government or political party, Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court ruled Friday.

Ontario Funding Model Undermines Transit, Favours Uber

As Ontario’s Doug Ford government signals an ever-increasing enthusiasm for microtransit services like Uber, critics warn that, far from being a panacea for transit woes, ridesharing undermines public transit and leads to reduced accessibility, rising fares, and more congestion and emissions.

IRENA Flags ‘Staggering’ $3.1 Trillion in Fossil Subsidies, 20 Times More than Renewables

The global fossil industry received a “staggering” US$3.1 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies in 2017, 20 times more than renewable energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed in an analysis released last week.

Stricken Oil Tankers Pose New Ecosystem Risks Off Sri Lanka, Venezuela

Two more disabled oil tankers are at risk of causing serious ecosystem damage, with a vessel in the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka on fire with two million barrels of crude onboard and a storage tanker off Venezuela at risk of sinking.

Site C Hydro Project Becoming a ‘Cash Bonfire’, Globe and Mail Warns

Renewables Surge Past Coal, Nuclear to Deliver Second-Largest Share of U.S. Electricity in Q2

Pembina Sees Renewables Helping Canadian Communities Build Back Stronger

21 of 50 Major ‘Recovery’ Projects in U.S. Involve Fossil Investment

Arlington, Texas Tackles Fracking as Racial Justice Issue

Trump Rolls Back Obama-Era Rule on Toxic Coal Ash

Electricity Access is Missing Link for Africa’s Economic Development

Arab World’s First Nuclear Power Reactor Starts Up in UAE

Shipping Emissions Set to Grow 30% from 2008 to 2050

Brazil Could See 10-Fold Wind Energy Growth by 2050

Africa Looks to Benefits of Cross-Border Renewable Energy Trading

Jamaica Plans Call for 500 MW of Renewables

Nuclear Industry Survey Shows 86% Public Support for Federal Investment in Clean Energy

More than three-quarters of Canadians see climate change as a serious issue, 57% say it has affected them or their loved ones, and 86% want the federal government to invest in clean energy technology to help address the crisis, according to an Abacus Data report released this week by the Canadian Nuclear Association.

‘Scientifically Valid Evidence’ Shows Tar Sands/Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Contaminating Northern Alberta Groundwater

There is “scientifically valid evidence” that toxic pollution seeping from tar sands/oil sands tailings ponds in northern Alberta is contaminating groundwater in the Athabasca watershed, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) concluded in an assessment released Thursday.

Renewables Post ‘Seismic Shift’, Deliver Two-Thirds of New Power Generation in 2019

Renewable energy delivered more than two-thirds of the 265 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity installed around the world last year, with solar alone accounting for 45% of the total, according to the Power Transition Trends 2020 report issued this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Pipeline Spill Forces Temporary Shutdown at Kearl Lake Tar Sands/Oil Sands Mine

Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake mine has gone into temporary shutdown, following a spill Saturday in a diluent pipeline that supplies the giant tar sands/oil sands facility north of Fort McMurray.

Hoboken, NJ Launches the Latest Climate Liability Suit Against Big Oil

In the latest in a groundswell of climate liability lawsuits, the coastal city of Hoboken, New Jersey is suing six fossil giants as well as the American Petroleum Institute (API) trade group, accusing them of a deliberate, decades-long campaign of deception and demanding compensation for current and future climate impacts.

Alberta Start-Up Plans Solar Arrays for Abandoned Oil Wells

An initial two to four abandoned oil well sites in Taber, Alberta will be converted to host small solar arrays, in a bid to make productive use of the sites while long-term remediation is under way.

Focus on Personal Carbon Footprint Tainted by Big Oil Spin

The work of reducing one’s personal carbon footprint has long comforted consumers around the world—even if that footprint, as compared to industrial emissions, has a small effect. Now, revelations that colossal fossil BP played an outsized role in popularizing the very idea of a personal carbon footprint, while simultaneously allowing its own corporate emissions to skyrocket, is making some observers queasy.

U.S. Fossil Plans Giant Chillers to Refreeze Permafrost Under Alaska Pipeline

Colossal fossil ConocoPhillips has come up with a startling climate adaptation strategy for a new pipeline it wants to build on Alaska’s North Slope. It plans to run giant chillers to refreeze the permafrost beneath the pipes, thereby consuming more energy to protect the infrastructure from the global climate crisis the company has helped create.

Mining Association ‘Disheartened’ by Federal Review of Teck Coal Mine Expansion Plan

Guterres Warns India Against Coal Expansion as Industry ‘Goes Up in Smoke’

Puerto Rican Regulator Favours Solar Over Gas

Bank of England Bond Buys Undercut Green Recovery

Australia COVID Advisors Want Subsidies for Failing Gas Industry

OPEC Prepares for Era of Dwindling Demand

Botswana Boosts Coal While Much of Sub-Saharan Africa Embraces Solar

O’Toole Needs a Credible Climate Plan to Win a Federal Election, Analysts Say

Newly-elected Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will have a harder time delivering on his promise to form a national government if he can’t convince Canadians he cares about climate change and has a plan to do something about it, according to opinion analysts cited in The Narwhal’s explainer on the new leader and his policies.

Hurricane Laura Delivers Predictable, Preventable Damage to Marginalized Communities

As the residents of Louisiana’s industry-heavy coast begin the long work of recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Laura—and the highly toxic chemical fire it triggered—citizens are once again facing down one of the hard truths of a fossil economy: when a climate disaster strikes, marginalized communities get pummelled.

Coalspur Demands Judicial Review of Federal Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

The company behind the Vista coal mine is calling for a judicial review of Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s decision to order an environmental assessment of its controversial plans to expand its operations.

Feds Won’t Commit to Renewal as Popular ZEV Rebate Nears Funding Limit

The federal government isn’t saying whether it will top up funding for its C$300-million electric vehicle purchase incentive, even though Transport Canada figures show 75% of the funds used up in the first 15 months of the three-year program.

Shutting Most Coal, Gas Plants Could Save Southeastern U.S. $384 Billion by 2040

Seven states in the southeastern United States could save US$384 billion by 2040 by setting up competitive pricing for grid electricity and phasing out most of their coal-fired power stations and natural gas peaker plants, according to a new analysis released last week.

‘Unlikely Allies’ Create Renewable Energy Opportunities in Alberta

What do oil executives and climate activists have in common? Not much, if you listen to popular media narratives pitting environmental protection against economic growth. But at the Energy Futures Lab, diverse innovators and stakeholders in Alberta’s energy sector are finding plenty of room for collaboration.

BP Plans to Sell London, UK Headquarters

Fossils Receive More Than 3,000 Pollution Monitoring Exemptions from Trump’s EPA

Ottawa Promises ‘Very Specific Things to Say’ on East Coast Fossil Bailout

Lethbridge Woman Swims 14 Kilometres Across Reservoir to Warn of Coal Mine Runoff Risk

WoodMac Questions Tesla’s Record-Low Home Solar Prices

Bank of America Will Disclose Climate Impacts of Lending Practices

Algeria Expects Oil Revenue to Fall by $10B This Year

Industry Urges UK to Ban New Gas Furnaces by 2025

Green Hydrogen Creates New Opportunities for Aluminum Manufacturing

Taxpayer Funds Could Trigger Pandemic Recovery Loans Above $100 Million Per Fossil Company, EDC Says

Loan guarantees and other forms of financial risk management from Export Development Canada (EDC) could clear the way for bank loans well in excess of C$100 million to help individual fossil fuel companies weather the financial storm produced by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving taxpayers to help cover the banks’ losses if the companies can’t make good on their borrowing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraction_of_petroleum

Canada’s Pandemic Response Sends $16 Billion to Fossils, Just $300 Million to Clean Energy, Global Energy Policy Tracker Shows

At the time of original publication, Canada’s pandemic response had sent just C$300 million to clean energy, compared to more than $16 billion to fossil fuels, according to data released by Energy Policy Tracker, a joint effort by multiple civil society organizations including the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Harris Brings Record on Climate Action, Environmental Justice to Biden Presidential Ticket

Less than 24 hours after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate in this fall’s election, the climate news wires were buzzing with recaps of her position on climate action, her record on environmental justice, and the likely outcome after the Biden-Harris campaign pushes the Trump administration out of office in November.

With U.S. Fossils ‘Hurtling Toward Bankruptcy’, Execs Get a Payout While Abandoned Wells Leak Methane

With U.S. fossils “hurtling toward bankruptcy at a pace not seen in years,” companies are already abandoning unprofitable oil and gas wells or leaving them untended, the New York Times reports, producing an immediate, new source of climate-busting methane and a longer-term environmental mess for taxpayers to clean up.

Building Back Better Could Prevent 112,000 Premature Deaths, Canadian Doctors Say

Meeting Canada’s climate targets could prevent 112,000 premature deaths between 2030 and 2050 due to air quality improvements alone, but achieving those gains will depend on the investments governments make today, according to new modelling released by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Global ‘Gas Bubble’ Has Nearly Half of New LNG Projects Facing Pandemic Delays, Nervous Investors

Investment legend Warren Buffett’s decision last March to pull out of a controversial liquefied natural gas project in Quebec’s Saguenay region is just one example of a bigger trend that has nearly half of the world’s LNG export projects faltering in recent months, according to a Global Energy Monitor report published in July.

U.S. Analysis Busts Myths, Shows No Need for New Gas Plants

It’s time to bust some myths about gas-fired electricity, renewable energy, and the United States grid, writes David Wooley, executive director of the Center for Environmental Public Policy at UC Berkeley, after a study showed clean electricity could supply 90% of the country’s power by 2035, at less cost than non-renewable sources.

Canadian Pension Board Invests $141M in Chinese Coal Projects, Undercutting Federal Phaseout Policy

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is jeopardizing Canadians’ retirement savings, undercutting federal government policy, and making a mockery of one of the country’s few points of climate leadership on the world stage by investing C$141 million in Chinese coal companies, a leading pensions and climate advocate said in late July.

Fossil Lobby Demands Changes to ‘Overly Prescriptive’ Federal Bailout Rules

Canada’s fossil lobby is complaining about federal bailout programs designed to help companies weather the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming the conditions they’re required to meet are “ineffective and overly prescriptive,” the Globe and Mail reports.

Beer: Alberta Should Treat Total’s $9.3-Billion Write-Off as a Wake-Up Call, Not a Cheap Shot

After French petroleum giant Total wrote off C$9.3 billion in stranded assets in the tar sands/oil sands, the Jason Kenney government had the option of treating the announcement as a wake-up call, not a cheap shot. And Albertans were hurt first and worst when their government made the wrong choice, The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer argues in a post for The Narwhal.

Dakota Access Pipeline Continues Accepting Oil After U.S. Judge Orders Shutdown

The company behind the intensely controversial Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t explicitly defying a court order. But nor was it reported to have taken any steps to comply with Judge James Boasberg’s ruling that the line must shut down within 30 days, after failing to meet environmental assessment requirements.

U.S. Fossils’ Plastic Recycling Plans Increase Toxic Pollution, Deliver Industry Lifeline

Recent efforts by Big Oil to secure the legal right to expand so-called “chemical” recycling of plastics throughout the United States are being condemned by environmental activists as a (literally) poisonous shell game designed to keep fossils in business.

Global Oil Demand, CO2 Emissions Likely Peaked in 2019 as Fossil Analysts Predict More Stranded Assets

A small parade of analysts stepped out in late June and early July with projections that global oil demand and carbon dioxide emissions likely peaked last year, with consumers’ need for refined oil products hitting a turning point and more big fossil companies expected to declare “impairments” in their production assets in the not-too-distant future.

U.S. Utilities Skip Natural Gas ‘Bridge’, Shift Directly to Renewables as Coal Plants Close

A growing number of United States utilities are skipping the natural gas “bridge” and shifting directly to renewable energy as they phase out their aging coal plants. And at least one European Union country is looking to shift its decades-old gas infrastructure in the same direction.

Pittis: Ignoring Fossil Harms in Business Media Coverage Is ‘Bad Economics’

Canadian investors and the broader public are increasingly demanding energy industry reporting that does not shy away from forthright discussions of the intersection between the immediate needs and the long-term costs of fossil fuel use.

$70 Billion in Fossil Investment Makes BP’s Transition Promise a ‘Suicide Note to Humanity’, Analyst Warns

The fine print in BP’s bold, new carbon reduction pledge shows the UK-based colossal fossil still plans to invest billions in environmental catastrophe over the next decade, writes self-described eco-auditor, columnist, and Stop Killing Cyclists founder Donnachadh McCarthy, in a blistering opinion piece for The Independent.

Exxon Rips Up $30-Billion Rebuilding Plan, Could Declare Stranded Assets at Kearl Lake

ExxonMobil’s massive Kearl Lake mine north of Fort McMurray may be the latest tar sands/oil sands to be devalued as one of the world’s most determined colossal fossils considers designating up to one-fifth of its global oil and gas reserves as stranded assets, part of a company-wide scramble to respond to crashing oil prices and weak markets for its product.

http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/Energy/tarsands/

O’Regan Touts Bright Future for Tar Sands/Oil Sands as Industry Investment Plunges 30%

Canada’s tar sands/oil sands have a continuing and growing role to play, with their output increasing over the shorter and longer term as the country strives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told the Financial Times in an interview published this week.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Loses Lead Insurer as Zurich Steps Away

Mammoth global insurance company Zurich has decided to abandon its role as principal insurer for the Trans Mountain pipeline when its coverage expires August 31.

Groundbreaking New Grid Model Would Eliminate up to 80% of U.S. Emissions by 2035

A new energy model is being hailed as the long-awaited technical manual for a Green New Deal in the U.S., a roadmap to the mass electrification that will allow the country to decarbonize its power grid by 2035.

Three Projects, Three Wins: Flurry of Decisions Shows U.S. Pipelines Becoming ‘Unbuildable’

A 48-hour span in early July saw a dizzying series of announcements highlighting the increasingly shaky prospects for North American oil and gas pipelines, with the US$8-billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled, the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting a bid to immediately restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordering the Dakota Access Pipeline shut down for contravening U.S. environmental law.

Action on Climate, $40/Barrel Oil Could Mean Trillions in Stranded Fossil Assets

With colossal fossils Total and Shell downgrading the value of their oil and gas assets, BP pledging to cut oil and gas production 40% by 2030, and even fossil behemoth ExxonMobil ripping up a US$30-billion plan to renew its oil and gas reserves, Bloomberg Green is out with a timely explainer on stranded assets.

Deutsche Bank Dumps Tar Sands/Oil Sands, Arctic Oil and Gas, Falls Short on Coal Divestment

Frankfurt-based banking giant Deutsche Bank is immediately cutting off financing for new tar sands/oil sands and Arctic oil and gas projects and will end its involvement with coal mining by 2025, in a move that at least one Canadian climate analyst praised but a European campaign organization cast as just a first step in a longer transformation.

Twitter Storm Greets Wilkinson Defence After Pandemic Produces 25% Cut in Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is pushing back on Twitter—and receiving a small Twitter storm in return—after The Canadian Press reported a 25% cut in the country’s environmental monitoring program for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New Mexico’s Off-Coal Transition Plan Includes Community Dialogue, Jobs Outside Energy

New Mexico is emerging as a promising model for governments aiming to phase out coal without leaving behind the households and communities that depend on coal industry jobs, after an Albuquerque-based private utility decided to divest its share of the 925-megawatt San Juan coal plant in 2022 and invest in 650 MW of solar generation and 300 MW of battery storage.

Harris Brings Record on Climate Action, Environmental Justice to Biden Presidential Ticket

Less than 24 hours after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate in this fall’s election, the climate news wires were buzzing with recaps of her position on climate action, her record on environmental justice, and the likely outcome after the Biden-Harris campaign pushes the Trump administration out of office in November.

http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/campaigns/Energy/tarsands/

O’Regan Touts Bright Future for Tar Sands/Oil Sands as Industry Investment Plunges 30%

Canada’s tar sands/oil sands have a continuing and growing role to play, with their output increasing over the shorter and longer term as the country strives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told the Financial Times in an interview published this week.

$70 Billion in Fossil Investment Makes BP’s Transition Promise a ‘Suicide Note to Humanity’, Analyst Warns

The fine print in BP’s bold, new carbon reduction pledge shows the UK-based colossal fossil still plans to invest billions in environmental catastrophe over the next decade, writes self-described eco-auditor, columnist, and Stop Killing Cyclists founder Donnachadh McCarthy, in a blistering opinion piece for The Independent.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charging_stations_in_SF_City_Hall_02_2009_02.jpg

Plug-In Hybrids Miss Their Carbon Targets as Owners Fail to Charge Batteries

A new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters gets at the strange and vexing question of why some car owners in the United States go to the trouble of buying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), then rarely if ever plug them in.

Use Community Power, Grassroot Investment to Fuel Green Recovery, Energy Co-ops Urge

A group of seven renewable energy co-ops from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia is calling on the federal government to emphasize community power procurement, deep energy retrofits, and smart grid development in economic stimulus responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4,000-MW Coal Plan ‘Won’t Provide Much Space’ for Pakistan’s Ambitious Renewables Target

Pakistan may be jeopardizing its own hopes of bringing renewable energy to 30% of its electricity mix by 2030, from 4% today, by pursuing a parallel plan to build new coal plants.

Carbon Border Taxes Mustn’t Penalize Developing Countries for Emissions Driven by Developed-World Policies

While a carbon border adjustment looks reasonable at face value as a way to encourage faster, deeper carbon cuts, the approach will fail the equity test in the 2015 Paris Agreement if it puts the onus on developing countries to curtail fossil fuel use the developed world has worked hard to promote.

AIMCo Fossil Investment Strategy Cost Alberta Heritage Fund $2B

Saudi Aramco Protects Shareholders After Profits Plummet 73%

No One Takes Responsibility for Massive Florida Methane Cloud

BMW Ties Executive Pay to Climate Targets

Alberta Aims to Solve Decades-Old Regulatory Problem with Orphan Wells

Manitoba First Nation Pans Nuclear Commission’s ‘Colonial, Inexcusable’ Behaviour

Big California Gas Utility Accused of Undermining Electrification

New Online Tools Trace U.S. Cities’ Drive to Renewables

Australia’s Biggest Wind Farm Begins Sending Power to Grid

Developer in Poland Plans 1.2-GW Wind Farm in Baltic Sea

600-MW Wind Farm in Thailand to Send Power to Vietnam

UK Subsidy Will Get More Riders on E-Bikes

Investors Betting on Solid State Batteries

Researchers See Billions of Tonnes of Carbon Capture in Crushed Rock

Future Without Cars is Declared ‘Amazing’

Action on Climate, $40/Barrel Oil Could Mean Trillions in Stranded Fossil Assets

With colossal fossils Total and Shell downgrading the value of their oil and gas assets, BP pledging to cut oil and gas production 40% by 2030, and even fossil behemoth ExxonMobil ripping up a US$30-billion plan to renew its oil and gas reserves, Bloomberg Green is out with a timely explainer on stranded assets.

Ecological Disaster in the Making as Oil Slick Spreads Off Mauritius Coast

With a bulk carrier leaking tonnes of fuel off its southeast coast and rough weather at risk of tearing the Japanese-owned vessel apart, the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius declared an environmental emergency and local residents “stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves Saturday to create makeshift oil spill barriers,” The Associated Press reports.

India Coal Mining Plan Endangers Ecologically Sensitive Forests, Indigenous Way of Life

India’s plan to boost an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce its dependence on expensive coal imports is producing a moment of deep peril for the Hasdeo Arand, a biodiverse, ecologically sensitive forest in the state of Chhattisgarh, as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sets its sights on the five billion tonnes of coal beneath the surface.

Peabody’s Massive $1.42-Billion Write-Off Shows ‘New Reality in U.S. Coal Mining’

The decision by coal giant Peabody Energy to cut the declared value of the United States’ biggest coal mine by US$1.42 billion is an acknowledgement that “thermal coal mines in the U.S. have little value anymore and not much of a future,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) writes in an assessment of the August 5 announcement.

New Mexico’s Off-Coal Transition Plan Includes Community Dialogue, Jobs Outside Energy

New Mexico is emerging as a promising model for governments aiming to phase out coal without leaving behind the households and communities that depend on coal industry jobs, after an Albuquerque-based private utility decided to divest its share of the 925-megawatt San Juan coal plant in 2022 and invest in 650 MW of solar generation and 300 MW of battery storage.

Wind turbines

PetroChina’s ‘Green, Low-Carbon Model’ Shows Renewables Reshaping the Future

China’s most colossal fossil is investing some of its winnings in renewable energy after selling off US$38 billion worth of pipelines, after concluding it can make more money by switching technologies.

Campaigners Urge U.S. Health Agency to Extend No Sail Order for Cruise Ships [Sign-On]

Campaigners with Stand.earth are urging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to extend its no-sail order for cruise ships beyond the end of September, until the floating resorts and renowned COVID-19 super-spreaders can make good on their duty to protect public health and the environment.

Multiple Freeze-Thaws Contributed to Gogama, Ontario Oil Train Derailment

Ocasio-Cortez Looks to Block Pipelines with U.S. Budget Bill

Abandoned North Sea Wells Produce Major Methane Releases

Seven Ukrainian Coal Towns Plot Joint Transformation

New Tariffs Against China Could Threaten India’s 100-GW Solar Target

Neighbours Protest Nuclear Pellet Plant in Peterborough

Enbridge CEO Sees No Big Problems Dealing with President Biden

Hydro-Québec Tests the Waters with Solar

Oilfield Services Giant Schlumberger Cuts 21,000 Jobs

Air Conditioning Demand Could Drive Record Oil Use in Saudi Arabia

U.S., Vietnam Plan $6-Billion Joint Investment in LNG

World Bank Boosts Fossils, Undercuts Climate Goals

Climate-Driven Weather Will Make a Congested Commute Worse

More Climate Deniers Enter British House of Lords

Battery-Makers Face Looming Lithium Shortage

What If Consumers Could Just Buy Their Own Plug-In Batteries?

Renewable Natural Gas Falls Short as Climate Solution

Weekend Tour Kicks Off Six-Week Push to Delay Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

More than 200 people signed up for a series of socially-distanced, small-group weekend tours of a conservation area in British Columbia, followed by a round of “know-your-rights training”, as campaign organizations prepared for a critical six weeks in their bid to halt construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Alberta Mismanages Heritage Fund, Misses Out on $575B in Revenue Over 44 Years

Successive Alberta governments over the last 44 years have mismanaged their way out of C$575 billion in revenue that should have been available to help cushion the province from a brutal oil price crash and chart a course to a more diverse, less fossil-dependent economy, according to a University of Calgary economics professor.

Groundbreaking New Grid Model Would Eliminate up to 80% of U.S. Emissions by 2035

A new energy model is being hailed as the long-awaited technical manual for a Green New Deal in the U.S., a roadmap to the mass electrification that will allow the country to decarbonize its power grid by 2035.

Pandemic Doesn’t Blunt Financial Sector Interest in Lower-Carbon Investments

Although the financial sector’s commitments to climate accountability and greater transparency only began to pick up major momentum in the months before the coronavirus made its appearance, the pandemic has not slowed down the drive for lower-carbon investments, as many campaigners feared it might.

Mauritius Faces Environmental Crisis from Big Coastal Oil Spill

Quebec Funds Renewable Natural Gas Projects for Export to Vermont

Bankers Second-Guess ‘Over-Optimistic’ Fracking Industry Models

Oklahoma Indian Land Decision Could Affect Massive Cushing Oil Terminal

Australian State Sets Up for Quickest Shift from Coal to Renewables

Japanese Business Lobby Hinders National Climate Policy

China May Finally Bar ‘Clean’ Coal from Green Bond Eligibility

Muttitt Paper Sets Principles for Managed Fossil Phaseout

Exxon Rips Up $30-Billion Rebuilding Plan, Could Declare Stranded Assets at Kearl Lake

ExxonMobil’s massive Kearl Lake mine north of Fort McMurray may be the latest tar sands/oil sands to be devalued as one of the world’s most determined colossal fossils considers designating up to one-fifth of its global oil and gas reserves as stranded assets, part of a company-wide scramble to respond to crashing oil prices and weak markets for its product.

Budget Cut for Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring Raises Health Concerns for Nearby First Nations

Indigenous communities in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories say they’re losing faith in federal and provincial environmental monitoring in the tar sands/oil sands, after The Canadian Press revealed earlier this week that this year’s field research program will sustain a funding cut of about 25%.

Beer: Alberta Should Treat Total’s $9.3-Billion Write-Off as a Wake-Up Call, Not a Cheap Shot

After French petroleum giant Total wrote off C$9.3 billion in stranded assets in the tar sands/oil sands, the Jason Kenney government had the option of treating the announcement as a wake-up call, not a cheap shot. And Albertans were hurt first and worst when their government made the wrong choice, The Energy Mix publisher Mitchell Beer argues in a post for The Narwhal.

Alberta’s Fossil Tax Relief Plan Downloads Financial Pain to Small Communities

Alberta’s United Conservative Party is considering relieving the province’s oil and gas operators of their obligation to pay municipal property taxes, an act of corporate welfare that would leave rural communities unable to balance their budgets without resorting to steep residential tax hikes or savage cuts to services. 

Dakota Access Pipeline Dodges Immediate Shutdown, Still Faces Environmental Review

The owner of the Dakota Access pipeline has dodged an order to immediately shut down operations, but will still have to undergo a full environmental review, after an appeal court overturned a judge’s order in early July that the line must cease operations within 30 days.

Second Pandemic Wave Will Drive Oil Farther Down

Indigenous Off-Diesel Efforts Need Better Support: Pembina

South Australia Delivers Cheaper Power as Renewables Dominate

Hydrogen Pilot Project Coming to Alberta Next Year

Canadian Miner Takes Up Musk’s Sustainable Nickel Challenge

FCM Offers Innovative Financing for Community Energy Efficiency

15 U.S. States Embrace Zero-Emission Trucks by 2050

California’s Top Oil Driller Files for Bankruptcy

Fossils Find Fault with Biden’s Climate Plan

Carbon-Free Europe Will Need Electricity from North Africa

China Boosts Renewable Energy Subsidies

Dealers See Opportunities for Green Deals in Southeast Asia

Some Tree Planting Does More Harm Than Good

Landowner Mounts Court Challenge to Adani Power Plant

Japan’s Withdrawal from Coal Could Create Foothold for LNG

UK Nuclear Industry Has Powerful Backers

New South Wales Sees Renewables Zone Powering 3.5 Million Homes

New Siemens Spin-Off Will Shut Out Coal

BP Declares 40% Production Cut by 2030, Boosts Renewables, After Pandemic Delivers Big Quarterly Loss

London, UK-based BP says it will reduce its fossil fuel output 40% by 2030 and scale back its dividend to shareholders for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010, as the world’s fourth most colossal fossil responds to mounting calls for climate action, the economic chaos wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, and a US$6.7-billion quarterly loss.

Twitter Storm Greets Wilkinson Defence After Pandemic Produces 25% Cut in Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is pushing back on Twitter—and receiving a small Twitter storm in return—after The Canadian Press reported a 25% cut in the country’s environmental monitoring program for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

5,757 ‘Tiny Earthquakes’ in B.C.’s Peace Region Were Mostly Caused by Fracking

Oil and gas fracking operations in British Columbia’s Peace region were by far the main cause of 5,757 “tiny earthquakes” between 2017 and 2019 that would have gone unrecorded if researchers hadn’t been looking for them, according to a study published last month in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Expand Natural Gas Energy Efficiency to Boost Economy, Create Jobs, Groups Urge Ontario

The Ontario Energy Board must expand the province’s natural gas energy efficiency programs as a way to meet provincial carbon targets, create jobs, and drive the COVID-19 economic recovery, Efficiency Canada argues in a letter it submitted yesterday to three senior provincial cabinet ministers.

116-Year-Old VW Factory Produces Last Internal Combustion Car as Shift to EVs Looms

One hundred and sixteen years after the Volkswagen factory in Zwickau, Germany (also known as the City of Cars) first began producing internal combustion vehicles, the very last one has rolled off its assembly line, with a shift to full EV production planned for year’s end.

‘Inevitable Policy Response’ Will Drive Climate Action by 2025, UN Agency Says

Arguing that global financial markets will inevitably begin factoring in the near-term policy response to climate change over the next five years, a United Nations program wants to help investors prepare for the portfolio risks they’ll face as a result.

U.S. Fossils’ Plastic Recycling Plans Increase Toxic Pollution, Deliver Industry Lifeline

Recent efforts by Big Oil to secure the legal right to expand so-called “chemical” recycling of plastics throughout the United States are being condemned by environmental activists as a (literally) poisonous shell game designed to keep fossils in business.

Carbon Capture Failure in Texas Bodes Badly for Similar Projects Elsewhere, IEEFA Warns

NRG Energy’s decision to mothball a coal-fired carbon capture project in Texas, just 3½ years after it went online in January 2017, is a sign of things to come for other, similar plants in the United States, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) concludes in a new research brief.

Colossal Fossils’ Joint Climate Target Falls Short of What’s Needed

Indigenous Communities Pay the Price for Massive Russian Oil Spill

Lenders Get Comfortable with Floating Offshore Wind

Canada Exempts Newfoundland Offshore Drilling from Environmental Assessment

Coal Giant Murray Energy Spent $100,000 in Ohio Racketeering Case

Virginia Utility CEO Steps Down After Big Losses on Pipeline Cancellation

GM Plans to Triple U.S. Fast Charging Network

New Hampshire Utility Cancels Gas Pipeline

Guyana Election Finally Ends After Petro-Politics Produce Five-Month Stalemate

China Missing Out on Trillions in Clean Investment

Adani Coal Project Loses Another Big Backer in South Korea

U.S. Home Electrification Programs Drive Energy Efficiency

Solar Can Meet Demand for Industrial Process Heat

Colossal Fossil Total Declares $9.3B in Stranded Assets in Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands

French colossal fossil Total sent a shockwave through the Alberta oilpatch Wednesday with the announcement that it is writing off C$9.3 billion in assets in the tar sands/oil sands, including $7.3 billion in the Fort Hills mine, which opened just 2½ years ago, and the Surmont thermal oilsands project.

Fossil Lobby Demands Changes to ‘Overly Prescriptive’ Federal Bailout Rules

Canada’s fossil lobby is complaining about federal bailout programs designed to help companies weather the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming the conditions they’re required to meet are “ineffective and overly prescriptive,” the Globe and Mail reports.

Robinson: Canada’s Climate Inaction Could Undermine ‘Historic Reputation for Environmental Leadership’

Canada is at risk of undermining its “historic reputation for environmental leadership” if it fails to match its words on climate change and an ambitious green recovery with action, former Irish president and United Nations human rights commissioner Mary Robinson writes in a post this week for the Globe and Mail.

UK’s Biggest Pension Fund Dumps Tar Sands/Oil Sands, Arctic Drilling, Coal

The United Kingdom’s biggest pension fund is banning investments in tar sands/oil sands, Arctic drilling, and coal projects—against the wishes of the country’s current pensions minister.

Hundreds Dead, Millions Affected as Extended Bangladesh Monsoon Combines with Cyclone Recovery, Pandemic

Hundreds of people are dead and millions have been affected as Bangladesh faces its longest period of monsoon flooding in decades, while South Asia simultaneously scrambles to recover from a cyclone that itself arrived on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shell Sees UK Banning New Petrol Car Sales by 2030

EU Green Plan Leaves Details, Responsibility to Member States

Latina Mothers at Greatest Risk as U.S. Study Links Gas Flares to Premature Birth

Ottawa Could Face ‘Massive Dump’ of Nuclear Waste Under New Federal Guidelines

Keystone Backer TC Energy Touts Pumped Storage Project in Ontario

U.S. Coal Utility Alliant Pledges Net-Zero Carbon by 2050

Renault Had Top-Selling European EV for First Half of 2020

Barclay’s Sent £1.5 Billion to Coal Companies in 2019

Heat Waves, COVID Mean Higher Power Bills

Israel Approves New Undersea Gas Line to Europe

New $1.7B Danish Green Fund Shows Investors Still Interested

Norwegian Fossil Billionaire Shifts to Greener Industries

Scottish Utility SSE Aims to Become Green ‘Supermajor’

Siemens Energy Plans to Boost Renewables Investment

Canadian Pension Board Invests $141M in Chinese Coal Projects, Undercutting Federal Phaseout Policy

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is jeopardizing Canadians’ retirement savings, undercutting federal government policy, and making a mockery of one of the country’s few points of climate leadership on the world stage by investing C$141 million in Chinese coal companies, a leading pensions and climate advocate said this week.

Deutsche Bank Dumps Tar Sands/Oil Sands, Arctic Oil and Gas, Falls Short on Coal Divestment

Frankfurt-based banking giant Deutsche Bank is immediately cutting off financing for new tar sands/oil sands and Arctic oil and gas projects and will end its involvement with coal mining by 2025, in a move that at least one Canadian climate analyst praised but a European campaign organization cast as just a first step in a longer transformation.

Canada, U.S. Pursue ‘Joint Interest’ in Getting Pipelines Built

Canada has opened discussions with the Trump administration to find a path forward for oil pipeline projects, Bloomberg News is reporting this week, citing a Globe and Mail interview with Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan.

Action Needed to Avoid ‘Tsunami’ of Plastic Waste by 2040, Study Confirms

If global policy-makers fail to freeze virgin plastic production at 2020 levels and improve waste collection systems around the world, the burden of plastic in our oceans will be enough to line every metre of coastline on Earth with 50 kilograms of trash by 2040. But it isn’t too late to cut that burden by 80%, if decisive action begins now.

Plummeting Wind Costs Could Make ‘Green’ Hydrogen Cost-Competitive by 2023

Less than two weeks after a report that renewably-produced “green” hydrogen could be cost competitive with fossil-dependent “grey” by 2030, a new analysis by banking giant Morgan Stanley says plummeting wind energy prices could push green hydrogen into the lead by 2023.

IEA Risks Credibility with Projections that Enable New Fossil Megaprojects

The International Energy Agency is giving political cover to new fossil megaprojects, and risks undermining its own influence over the next few years, by failing to put a 1.5°C limit on average global warming at the centre of its modelling and analysis, according to several analysts and campaigners cited in a review this week by Climate Home News.

Decaying Tanker off Yemeni Coast a Human and Marine Disaster in Waiting

As a rusty, crude-filled oil tanker moulders off the coast of Yemen, the health and well-being of 1.6 million Yemenis—and of the country’s marine biodiversity—hang on the swift resolution of a standoff between UN environmental inspectors and the rebel group that controls the region.

Afghan Opium Farms Embrace Solar in Rapid Transformation with Consequences

The BBC is focusing its attention in an unlikely direction—the opium fields of Afghanistan’s Helmand province—for proof of how quickly solar can scale up and become profitable, for better and for worse.

Poland Still Receives EU Climate Funding After Bailing Out Coal

India, U.S. Explore ‘Clean’ Coal as Power Plants Fall Short of Emission Standards

TC Energy Pushes Ahead with ‘Pipeline to Nowhere’ in B.C.

Medicine Hat Tries to Sell Off its Gas Assets

Canadian ‘Green Ribbon Panel’ Touts Nuclear

U.S. Permitting Processes Could Delay Clean Energy as Well as Pipelines

Virginia’s Solar Push Opens Opportunities for Rural Counties

States Push Back on Trump Bid to Boost Coal Sales

Swedish Utility Vattenfall Loses $1B on Coal’s Decline

UK’s First Local Green Bond to Raise £1 Million for Solar Projects

OPEC Expects Oil Demand to Surge in 2021

Fracking Crash Produces $2B Loss for Halliburton

Taxpayer Funds Could Trigger Pandemic Recovery Loans Above $100 Million Per Fossil Company, EDC Says

Loan guarantees and other forms of financial risk management from Export Development Canada (EDC) could clear the way for bank loans well in excess of C$100 million to help individual fossil fuel companies weather the financial storm produced by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving taxpayers to help cover the banks’ losses if the companies can’t make good on their borrowing, The Energy Mix has learned.

Ohio Plans Repeal of Coal, Nuclear Bailout After Bribery Scandal Snares House Speaker

The outsized political power of U.S. utilities has come into sharp focus over the last 10 days, with bribery scandals in Ohio and Illinois reaching senior politicians in both states, including the speakers of both state houses.

Plastics in America Are a ‘Story of Environmental Racism’

The story of plastics in America is a story of environmental racism, with Black and Indigenous communities both far more likely both to purchase and use plastics, lack access to recycling, and live in hot zones for waste incineration that exposes them to a slew of harms, writes urban sustainability campaigner Chante Harris in a guest post for Anti-Racism Daily.

73% in B.C. Support Just, Sustainable Transition

The majority of British Columbians support a more just, sustainable transition into a post-pandemic economy, according to online poll results released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Storage Can Speed Transition to Renewable Grid, But Obstacles Remain, Study Finds

Increased reliance on electricity storage will make it easier for established power grids to retire their coal- and gas-fired power plants, postpone pricey and often controversial transmission line expansions, and get more output from the renewable energy installations they invest in, according to a new study in the journal Applied Energy.

New Mexico Wants Fossils to Capture 98% of Methane

Suncor CEO Cautious about Ramping Up Oil Production

Australia’s Newest Coal Plant Stumbles on Debt Repayment

French Builder Suppressed Report on ‘Risky’ UK Nuclear Plant

Oilfield Giant Schlumberger Loses $3.7B in COVID Crash

Portugal Closes Last Coal Plant Two Years Ahead of Schedule

Trans Mountain Pipeline Loses Lead Insurer as Zurich Steps Away

Mammoth global insurance company Zurich has decided to abandon its role as principal insurer for the Trans Mountain pipeline when its coverage expires August 31.

Renewable Generation Beats Out Fossil Electricity in EU First

The first six months of 2020 saw renewables edging out fossils in Europe’s power mix for the first time, thanks to the happy conjunction of two events—good weather for renewables, and their increasing priority on the grid—and the addition of a miserable third: a pandemic-driven drop in demand.

Coalition Urges Ontario to Phase Out Gas-Fired Electricity by 2030 [Sign-On]

Nearly three dozen local, provincial, and national organizations are calling on Ontario to phase out its pricey natural gas power plants and abandon a plan that would increase carbon pollution from burning gas 300% by 2025 and 400% by 2040.

Saudi Arabia Censors G20 References to Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Engineering Firm Tries to Bail on Nova Scotia LNG Project

Alberta CCS Project Reports 5 Mt Captured After $865M in Government Backing

New Wave of COVID Hits Texas Oil Refineries

Solar to Drive Most Remaining Coal Plants Out of Texas Grid

U.S. Coal Utilities Face Water Shortages

Wyoming Regulator Approves New Coal Mine

Exec Says Shell Will Soon Be Seen ‘More as a Power Company’

BREAKING: EDC Backing Will Add to Canada’s Fossil Industry Bailout, Watchdog Groups Warn

Routing public financing through an “opaque Crown corporation with minimal government oversight” is not the way to be accountable for the way pandemic recovery funds are spent—or for the proportion of that money going to fossil fuel bailouts, three leading advocacy groups argue in a backgrounder published this morning.

Keystone XL Faces New Lawsuit Over Environmental Permitting Process

The Nebraska-based Bold Alliance launched yet another legal challenge to the Keystone XL pipeline last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to halt construction due to a faulty environmental permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

South Korea Fails to Adopt Net-Zero Deadline with New Green Investment Plan

South Korea stepped back from setting a deadline for phasing out its greenhouse gas emissions last week is it unveiled a ₩42.7-trillion/US$35-billion plan to invest in renewable energy and environmental infrastructure.

Carbon emissions from a coal plant in Germany

Global Cash-for-Clunkers Program Would Speed Up Lagging Coal Plant Retirements

The slow pace of coal plant retirements around the world has a veteran climate advocate calling for a “cash for clunkers” program to speed up the process of getting the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel out of circulation.

Offshore Leak Shuts Down Hibernia Oil Platform Off Newfoundland

U.S. Paycheque Protection Plan Hands Tens of Millions to Ohio Valley Coal Companies

Mexican State Fossil Pemex Reveals 207 COVID Deaths So Far

Alliance Urges Nordic Council to Support Heavy Fuel Oil Ban

EU Carbon Market to Include Shipping Emissions

Friends of the Earth Declares LNG a Windfall for Fossils, Curse for Mozambique

Exxon Restarts Drilling Off Guyana

Exxon Court Case in Colorado Moves to Next Stage

Latest Lockdown to Drive Down California Gasoline Demand

Australia’s Second-Biggest Pension Fund Unfriends Coal

BNEF Sees Cheaper Transition to Renewables for European Coal Users

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Canada’s Pandemic Response Sends $16 Billion to Fossils, Just $300 Million to Clean Energy, Global Energy Policy Tracker Shows

Canada’s pandemic response to date has sent just C$300 million to clean energy, compared to more than $16 billion to fossil fuels, according to new data released this week by Energy Policy Tracker, a joint effort by multiple civil society organizations including the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Wilkinson Sets End-of-July Deadline to Decide on Vista Coal Mine Review

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has given himself until the end of this month to decide whether to order a federal environmental assessment of a controversial expansion plan for the Vista coal mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Mayors Urge Recovery Based on Green Jobs, ‘15-Minute’ Cities

Green job creation, support for essential workers, investment in green industries, and funding for building retrofits, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and “resilient public services” are cornerstones of a green and just recovery program released Wednesday by C40 Cities.

Building Back Better Could Prevent 112,000 Premature Deaths, Canadian Doctors Say

Meeting Canada’s climate targets could prevent 112,000 premature deaths between 2030 and 2050 due to air quality improvements alone, but achieving those gains will depend on the investments governments make today, according to new modelling released by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Record Offshore Wind Spending Keeps Renewables Investment ‘Resilient’ through Pandemic

Global investment in offshore wind development quadrupled over the first half of this year, with US$35 billion pouring into 28 new projects, despite the deep economic shock triggered by the pandemic, Bloomberg NEF reported this week.

Adow: UK’s Mozambique Pipeline Plan Is Morally, Financially Negligent

As the Boris Johnson government debates greenlighting a billion-pound loan guarantee for a gas pipeline project in Mozambique, Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa urges UK leaders to reject the proposal—so utterly out of touch with the climate crisis—as financially idiotic, politically myopic, and morally bankrupt.

Alberta Regulator Taps Kenney’s Climate-Denying Ex-Campaign Manager as Science VP

The Alberta Energy Regulator has hired Premier Jason Kenney’s former campaign manager, climate denier John Weissenberger, as its vice president of science and innovation.

Gutted Market for Recycled Plastics Hits Waste-Picker Communities Hard

Businesses that commit to incorporating more (and more) recycled plastic into their supply chains will be rewarded for putting the health of the oceans and the well-being of millions of informal waste workers around the world ahead of short-term profit, according to Plastics for Change CEO Andrew Almack.

Alberta First Nation Plans New Tar Sands/Oil Sands Project

Rystad Sees New COVID Threat to Oil Demand

Fossil Investment Begins Pivoting to Renewables, Analysts Say

UK’s Overseas Development Bank Ends Fossil Funding

U.S. Transition Plan Maps Massive Investment to Stop Coal Country’s Decline

Vietnam State Fossil Turns Toward Solar, Wind

Fossil Ghostwriters Produce North Dakota Legislators’ Pro-Pipeline Letters

Bunker Oil Spill Forces Hundreds to Evacuate in Philippines

Nigeria Looks to Maintain LNG Sales While Other Exporters Cut Back

Ontario’s Bruce County Gears Up to Fight High-Level Rad Waste Dump

Montreal-Based Air Transat Aims for Kerosene from Captured Carbon

Radwanski: Canada Cautious on Green Recovery Despite Pledging Climate Leadership

With governments elsewhere unveiling ambitious green stimulus plans in response to the economic crash brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has been unaccountably cautious to join the club, Globe and Mail columnist Adam Radwanski writes in a post published earlier this week.

With U.S. Fossils ‘Hurtling Toward Bankruptcy’, Execs Get a Payout While Abandoned Wells Leak Methane

With U.S. fossils “hurtling toward bankruptcy at a pace not seen in years,” companies are already abandoning unprofitable oil and gas wells or leaving them untended, the New York Times reports, producing an immediate, new source of climate-busting methane and a longer-term environmental mess for taxpayers to clean up.

Open Letter to Wilkinson Urges Environmental Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

A group of 47 Canadian environmental, Indigenous, health, civil society, and faith organizations issued an open letter this week calling on Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to order an environmental assessment for Coalspur Mines Ltd.’s plan to expand its Vista mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Coal-Dependent Jakarta Sees Air Quality Worsen During Lockdown

In a reversal of a trend seen in other major cities in Southeast Asia, Jakarta’s air quality actually got worse during the traffic-squelching pandemic lockdown. Air quality experts are largely blaming the dozen coal plants that supply the Indonesian megalopolis with power—while killing tens of thousands of city residents annually and delivering poor birth weights to thousands of babies.

BlackRock Calls Out 53 Climate Laggards, Falls Short on Key Shareholder Votes

Investment behemoth BlackRock is calling out 53 companies, including ExxonMobil, Volvo, and Daimler, for lagging in their response to climate change, in what campaigners are still calling “baby steps” on its promise to use its enormous financial clout to drive faster, deeper carbon cuts.

‘Five Tribes’ Control Half of Oklahoma, But Impact on Fossils Could Take Decades to Sort Out

The implications may take years or decades to sort out, but last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing about half of Oklahoma as Native American reservation territory could raise complicated regulatory and tax questions for the fossil industry.

Ex-Canadian Fossil Ovintiv Draws Investor Interest in U.S.

Investment Hawk Declares Oil’s ‘Final Phase’

Hackers Target Anti-Exxon Campaigners

Transportation ‘Fairness’ Group is Fossil Stealth Attack on EVs

U.S. Renewables Outrun Coal, Nuclear for Second Straight Month

New Mexico Looks to Solar+Storage to Replace Massive San Juan Coal Plant

Florida to Shut Down 848-MW Unit at America’s Biggest Coal Plant

Indonesian Coal Producers Face Tough Prospects as India, China See Falling Demand

Pakistan Faces Higher Costs After Overbuilding Coal

Dakota Access Pipeline Continues Accepting Oil After U.S. Judge Orders Shutdown

The company behind the intensely controversial Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t explicitly defying a court order. But nor was it reported to have taken any steps last week to comply with Judge James Boasberg’s ruling that the line must shut down within 30 days, after failing to meet environmental assessment requirements.

Brazil’s Amazon Destruction Puts World’s Biggest Trade Deal at Risk

A year after it was finalized, a massive free trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, is in peril, as stakeholders recoil from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s transparent willingness to lay waste to the Amazon.

‘Californication’ of B.C. Grid Cuts Off Indigenous, Other Local Suppliers, Dogwood Warns [Sign-On]

Dogwood BC has launched a petition campaign against what it calls the “Californication” of British Columbia’s power grid, decrying a provincial plan to buy surplus electricity from private utilities in the Golden State while preventing B.C. First Nations and residents from producing their own power at home.

Kenney Government Announces $1 Billion for Petrochemicals, Continuing Push for Keystone XL

The Jason Kenney government has made a flurry of funding announcements aimed at “diversifying” Alberta into its next wave of dependence on fossil fuels, with a continuing push to get the Keystone XL pipeline built, a new agency to woo foreign investors, and C$1 billion over 10 years earmarked to bring new petrochemical capacity to the economically beleaguered province.

Guterres Urges Countries to Dump Coal as China Funds 250 GW, U.S. Refuses to Commit

Countries must stop financing international coal projects and building coal-fired power plants, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told a virtual clean energy transition summit last week.

Fossils Use Resource Adequacy Concerns to Delay Grid Decarbonization

Now that renewable energy has established its cost advantage over fossil fuels, the industry’s next challenge is to show grid planners they can decarbonize without jeopardizing the reliability of their systems, climate consultant Eric Gimon writes in an analysis for Greentech Media.

Kinder Morgan Awards Contract for New Burnaby Mountain Storage Tanks

Corona Crash Prompts Irving Oil to Lay Off 6% of Global Work Force

Russian Mining Giant Disputes $2.1B Charge for Epic Arctic Oil Spill

$2.6-Billion CCS Project Raises Warnings in Norway

Mozambique Developer Delays 300-MW Coal Plant

UK Fossils Pledge 50% Carbon Cut by 2030

Pirates Kidnap Nine Crew from Oil Tanker Off Nigeria

Ecojustice lawyer Fraser Thomson

In Conversation: Canada Mustn’t Allow Vista Coal Mine Expansion Without Environmental Assessment, Thomson Says

Fraser Thomson is a lawyer with Ecojustice and a member of the legal team working to stop the Vista mine expansion.

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Up to $6.7 Billion in U.S. Pandemic Relief Handed to 5,600 Fossil Companies

Environmentalists and accountability watchdogs are crying foul over revelations that more than 5,600 fossil companies have taken billions in federal coronavirus aid earmarked for small businesses.

IEA’s Clean Energy Summit Prompts Calls for 1.5°C Modelling

The virtual Clean Energy Transitions Summit convened yesterday by the International Energy Agency produced new calls for the Paris-based agency to put a 1.5°C ceiling for average global warming at the centre of its attempt to lead on climate change.

Pressure Builds on Trans Mountain’s Biggest Insurer After Two Others Step Away [Sign-On]

Insurance companies are emerging as the latest focus in the continuing fight to stop construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Pittis: Ignoring Fossil Harms in Business Media Coverage Is ‘Bad Economics’

Canadian investors and the broader public are increasingly demanding energy industry reporting that does not shy away from forthright discussions of the intersection between the immediate needs and the long-term costs of fossil fuel use.

OPEC May Be Headed for New Price War, Fossil Analysts Say

Campaigners Urge Iceland to Ban Heavy Fuel Oil in New Climate Plan