SNAPSHOT: The Fossil Industry Goes for Broke

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Max Goessler/Pixabay

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 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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Colorado Wants Longer Setbacks Between Fracking Wells, Populated Spaces

U.S. Corporates to Buy 44 to 72 GW of New Renewables by 2030

Iran Plans 28 New Renewables Plants by March 2021

French Banks Aim to Speed Up Transition Toward Paris Targets

South Kazakhstan Plans 100-MW Wind Plant

Wyoming Plans 2,000-Mile Pipeline Corridor, Warns of Future Violence to Indigenous Women

Marshall Islands Critiques IMO’s Short-Term Carbon Goal

Research Tracks Regional Social Benfits of Shift Off Fossils

WRI Publishes Community Handbook for Environmental Justice Campaigning

Duelling Futures: Seba Sees All-Renewable Grid in a Decade, While Bloomberg NEF Projects Slower Shift

Stanford University futurist Tony Seba is laying out a path for most of the world’s electricity systems to switch to solar, wind, and energy storage over the next decade, just as BloombergNEF’s New Energy Outlook predicts US$11 trillion in green power investment by 2050.

Exxon to Fire 14,000 Staff, Claims Fossil Industry ‘Fundamentals’ Still Strong

Colossal fossil ExxonMobil announced last week that it is laying off 14,000 people, or about 15% of its global work force, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues laying waste to global fossil fuel demand and driving down oil prices.

Citizens Decry Incomplete Assessment of Quebec’s Saguenay LNG Project

Environmental groups and concerned citizens are decrying the province of Quebec’s refusal to look beyond site-specific concerns in its analysis of a proposed C$9-billion natural gas liquefaction terminal on the Saguenay River.

Biden Presidency Could Trigger Lower Oil Prices by Easing Sanctions on Iran

Beyond Joe Biden’s declaration during the final U.S. presidential debate that he understands the need for a transition off oil, there’s something else for fossils to worry about in the event that Biden wins the White House.

TC Energy Admits Rising Costs on Coastal GasLink Pipeline

Michigan Regulator Won’t Review Climate Impacts of Line 5 Pipeline

WoodMac Sees Global Solar Capacity Hitting 115 GW This Year

Incident at Trans Mountain Construction Site Kills Father of Four

Cenovus-Husky Takeover Will Hurt Downtown Calgary Hard

Solar, Wind Can Unlock Jobs in Alberta, Pembina Says

Vancouver Has More to Do to Hit 2030 Carbon Target

Alaska Fossils Spend Millions on Tax-Related Ballot Measures

U.S. Small Nuclear Developer Faces Challenges on Financing, Safety

Collapsing Oil Demand Shutters New Jersey Refinery

Trump Ally, Climate-Denying Coal Boss Bob Murray Dies at Age 80

Net-Zero Promise Will Force Japan to Shutter 34 GW of Coal by 2040

Australia Won’t Set Net-Zero Target Despite International Pressure

New Rules Require Earlier Air Monitoring at Colorado Fracking Sites

Investors Nervous as GE to Stop Building Coal Plants

Russian Regulator Approves New Arctic Coal Mine

South Korean State Utility Pledges No More Overseas Coal Plants

COVID Could Trigger Rapid Renewables Rise in Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics Block Faster Renewables Deployment in Southern Africa

Biden Win, Pandemic Economy Could End Keystone XL as Trudeau, O’Regan Pledge Pipeline Support

The Keystone XL pipeline may be coming to the end of a very long road, ultimately brought down by the combination of a Joe Biden presidency and crashing global oil demand—even if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan are still standing beside Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to support the controversial project.

Ottawa Can’t Predict Emission Cuts from New Methane Controls

The federal government is trying out a revamped set of fossil industry incentives to hit its target of reducing methane emissions 40 to 45% by 2025, but at least three environmental groups in Canada and one in the United States say Ottawa could get better results if it just regulated the companies’ emissions.

Opinion: Time to Uncover the Toxic Legacy of Plastics Recycling

Blue bins have long been a symbol of reassurance for convenience-craving consumers across North America, offering citizens the comfortable belief that the disposables we put out on the curb every week will be safely put to “green” use. But as Alberta sets its sights on becoming “western North America’s centre for excellence for plastics diversion and recycling by 2030,” it might be time to throw an uncomfortable light on the actual benefits—and the true costs—of an industry that has too long been cloaked in smoke and mirrors. An analysis by Gaye Taylor.

How Lucky Do You Feel? The bottom falls out of B.C.’s overhyped LNG gamble

I’ve had friends over the years whose favourite pastime was to visit their friendly neighbourhood casino. But most of us would draw a big, bright line if we thought our governments were gambling our tax dollars and pension funds on “sure” bets about as reliable as a craps table or a one-armed bandit—like the fever dream of a fracking and liquefied natural gas (LNG) boom in British Columbia. (A chapter excerpt by Mitchell Beer, adapted from Watershed Sentinel’s new book, All Fracked Up! The Costs of LNG to British Columbia.)

Major Investors Dump BP and Shell, Pressure Others for Transparency on Stranded Asset Risk

Colossal fossil BP has been blacklisted by two major investment houses in London, UK worried that its attempt to decarbonize its product lines will “cripple profits and dividends”—and apparently, because they don’t think the company is being transparent about stranded asset risk in its oilfields.

Another Lloyd’s of London Insurer Refuses to Back Adani Coal Mine is declaring a win after Apollo, an insurance provider that belongs to Lloyd’s of London, declared it will not renew the coverage it currently provides for the controversial and climate-busting Adani Carmichael coal mine in Australia.

Philippines Puts Brakes on Coal Power Development, Boosts Geothermal

The Philippines’ just-announced temporary moratorium on new coal plants is being met with calls to go further, while its move to loosen restrictions on foreign ownership in order to more easily develop its geothermal potential is stirring complaints from groups that want to see the resource tapped by local companies.

Industry and Nature Make Peace at Former Home of North America’s Largest Coal Plant

This community story was originally posted in text and video by Charged Up, a David Suzuki Foundation program on empowering communities across Canada with renewable energy.

Top Fossil Execs Saw Bigger Paycheques Despite ‘Red Ink’ Year

TC Energy Awards $1.6B in Keystone XL Contracts

Newfoundland Confirms Two New Offshore Oil Discoveries

South Korea Follows Japan with Carbon-Neutral Pledge

Kitchener, Halton Hills Become First Ontario Cities to Demand Gas Plant Phaseout

Include Small Businesses in Green Recovery, Smart Prosperity Urges

Wyoming Funds Out-of-State Campaigns to Prop Up Coal Demand

Trump Offshore Drilling Ban Hits Wind Farms, Too

Australian Groups Call for Better Regulation of Coal Ash Dams

Polish Utility’s 100% RE Plan Means Passing the Buck on Coal Mines

Shun Blue Hydrogen Produced with Fossil Subsidies, Scientists Urge EU

Global Offshore Wind Activity Grows 47%, to 200 GW, Since January

15 Climate Youth Plan Appeal After Court Rejects Lawsuit for Federal Recovery Plan

An appeal is in the offing after a Federal Court judge rejected a lawsuit by 15 Canadian youth calling for the Trudeau government to develop a science-based climate recovery plan.

Pandemic Harms Economic Case for Trans Mountain Pipeline as 350 Canada Targets November AGM [Sign-On]

Two new analyses in the last two weeks are raising questions about whether the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and falling global oil demand have undercut the economic case for completing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Dutch Investment Manager Adds 232 Fossil Companies to ‘Exclusion List’

An investment fund manager in The Netherlands with US$183 billion in assets is adding 232 fossil producers to its “exclusion list”, after declaring it won’t get involve with companies that draw more than 25% of their revenue from thermal coal or tar sands/oil sands operations or 10% from Arctic drilling.

Failing to Embrace Green Recovery Will Drive ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change, C40 Cities Warns Governments

The world’s governments can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030, create 50 million “good, sustainable jobs” by 2025, prevent 270,000 premature deaths in the next 10 years, and save US$1.4 billion in health costs by embracing a green and just recovery, the C40 Cities COVID-19 Recovery Task Force concludes in an analysis released Wednesday.

Indigenous Campaigners in India Dig In Against World’s Second-Biggest Coal Mine

A collection of 53 hamlets in Birbhum district of West Bengal has become an epicentre of the fight against what could become the world’s second-biggest coal mine, with Indigenous campaigners warning the project would likely lead to the eviction of 70,000 people, many of whom have been farming the area for generations.

Don’t Let Crashing Fossil Lobby Drag Canada Down, Brooks Urges Ottawa

80% of U.S. Fossil Donations Go to Republicans Bent on Blocking Climate Action

Fossil Subsidies Undercut Climate Ambition, EU Warns

Alberta Panel Report on (Supposed) Foreign-Funded Influence Put Off to Next Year

B.C. Energy Traders’ Bonus Scheme Undercuts Provincial Climate Goals

U.S. Federal Reserve Bailed Out Fossils with $350 Million in Bond Buys

Big U.S. Gas Plant Developer Starts Shift to Storage, Renewables

Millions in Savings Prompt Arizona to Adopt Home Battery Incentives

New Programs May Open Distributed Power to California Tenants

Cash-Strapped Argentina Offers $5.1B Subsidy for Vaca Muerta Gas Megaproject

China Won’t Likely Follow Through on Australian Coal Ban

World Bank Division Backs 2-GW Indonesian Coal Plant Despite Big Green Promises

Moody’s Sees New U.S. LNG Capacity Delayed for Years

Oil Rig Provider Tranocean Dumped Out of NY Stock Exchange

Colossal Fossil Total Claims ‘Carbon Neutral’ LNG

Korean Utility Cancels Investment in South African Coal Plant

Malaysian Floating Solar Project Delivers Power at 3.8¢/kWh

Quick Shift to 100% Renewables Could Slash U.S. Emissions, Save Households $2,500 Per Year

An aggressive shift to 100% renewable energy could produce up to US$321 billion for American ratepayers, or an average $2,500 per household per year, while slashing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new analysis by Rewiring America.

New Solar, Wind Now Cheaper than Existing U.S. Coal and Gas Plants, Analysis Shows

Utility-scale solar and wind now deliver the cheapest electricity in the United States, even undercutting the cost of running an existing coal or gas plant, concludes the latest in a series of annual assessments by finance and asset management firm Lazard.

Cenovus to Cut One-Quarter of Jobs After Buying Out Husky Energy

Cenovus Energy Inc. is set to lay off one-quarter of its work force, and the controversial White Rose oil and gas development off the Newfoundland coast is very much in doubt, after the Calgary-based tar sands/oil sands producer announced over the weekend that it was buying rival fossil Husky Energy in a C$3.8-billion deal.

Emerging Geothermal Technologies Could Power Humanity ‘for Generations’

Long the “perpetual also-ran of renewable energy,” geothermal could be about to have its day, provided it solves a number of engineering challenges and one big PR problem, writes Vox’s David Roberts.

Study Shows Higher Radiation Levels Downwind of U.S. Fracking Sites

Add airborne radioactivity to the long list of hazards from oil and gas fracking sites, a team of Harvard University researchers advises, in a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

Alberta Caribou Plan Allows Fossil Drilling Right Away, Delays Habitat Protections Five Years

The federal and Alberta governments have signed on to a protection plan for the province’s caribou that gives them five years to develop and implement range plans for the endangered herds, but allows fossil drilling in some of their habitats to start up right away.

Swiss Oil Traders Rankle at Call for Higher Human Rights, Environmental Standards

A popular Swiss plebiscite that would hold companies in the country liable for human rights and environmental violations is making many of the nation’s business leaders sweat—especially the oil traders.

Exxon Keeps Misleading in Bid to Discredit #ExxonKnew Researchers

ExxonMobil’s bid to discredit researchers who’ve documented the colossal fossil’s massive efforts to foster climate denial and confusion has only ended up confirming the original critique, authors Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes argue in a recent commentary in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Climate Think Tanks in China Push for Faster, Deeper Emission Cuts

BlackRock Sees ‘Compelling’ Renewables Opportunity in Asia Pacific

Insurance Exec Sees Costs of Inaction Far Exceeding Green Recovery Investments

TAF Argues Business Case for Deep Energy Retrofits

Home Retrofit Program Tackles Nova Scotia’s Carbon Footprint

Province Pans Delays After Feds Approve Alberta Gas Line Expansion

TransAlta’s 10-MW Battery Installation Goes Online

Pennsylvania Coal Country Still Failing, But Miners Poised to Forgive Trump

Campaigners Defeat Trump Plan for Seismic Testing Off Atlantic Coast

COVID-Driven Service Cuts Could Curb Transit Access for 2.1 Million Riders in Nine U.S. Cities

Australian Mega-Miner BHP Heeds Musk’s Call for More Nickel

Builder Completes 450-MW Wind Farm, Vietnam’s Largest, in 102 Days

Singapore Takes Comprehensive Approach to Cutting Emissions

Too Much Sun Can Degrade Anti-Corrosion Coating on Pipelines

Fossil Traders Say Work from Home Boosts Demand for Gas Heat

BHP Sees Fossils as Part of Energy Mix for ‘Decades’

Funding Supports Four New Wind Farms Near Poznan, Poland

Kenworth Unveils First Class 8 Electric Truck Model

Alkaline Hot Water Bath Makes Solar Panels Easy to Recycle

Analysts See Peril and Promise in Biden’s Support for Transition Off Oil

A wave of alarmed and hopeful commentary has been building since the U.S. presidential debate last Thursday evening, when Democratic candidate Joe Biden acknowledged that his country will have make the transition off oil.

Enbridge Withdraws Controversial Bid for Hamilton-Area Gas Pipeline

Environmental campaigners are taking some of the credit after Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. announced it was withdrawing its application for a controversial, 10-kilometre gas pipeline through rural Hamilton.

Japan’s Plan for Carbon Neutrality by 2050 Leans Into ‘High-Efficiency’ Coal, CCS, Nuclear

“High-efficiency” coal plants, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear generation are cornerstones of the highly-touted plan for carbon neutrality by 2050 that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced earlier today in his first major speech to the national parliament, the Diet, since taking office last month.

Cultural Assessment for Line 5 Pipeline Tunnel Ignored 10,000-Year-Old Artifacts, Technician Says

A technician hired by Calgary-based pipeliner Enbridge to explore the Straits of Mackinac for any artifacts of cultural or archaeological significance missed stone patterns that appear to have been laid by humans about 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age—because he was instructed to only look for shipwrecks.

Renewables Jobs Provide Lifeline for Laid-Off U.S. Fossil Workers

The renewable energy industries are providing a lifeline for oil and gas workers in the United States who’ve been laid off since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, according to a recent analysis by consultants at Deloitte.

Alberta Suspends Some Fossils’ Property Taxes for Three Years, Leaves Debts to Rural Municipalities Unaddressed

Rural municipalities in Alberta say they’re onboard with a provincial decision to suspend property taxes for three years for companies drilling new oil and gas wells or building new pipelines, after initially raising the alarm about the government’s plan to revamp the whole tax regime in fossils’ favour.

EVs Hit ‘Historic’ 61.5% of New Car Sales in Norway

UK Exceeds 50 GW of Offshore Wind Under Development

Fossils Cheer as Alberta Lifts Curbs on Oil Output

Toronto Plans Pilot for Driverless Electric Shuttles

Passive House Project in Northern B.C. Boosts Efficiency, Creates Jobs

Iowa Nuclear Plant Won’t Reopen After ‘Extensive’ Storm Damage

U.S. Utility Entergy Embraces Gas While Spinning Net-Zero by 2050

Utilities Plan Major Boost for New Hampshire Energy Efficiency Programs

France Completes Auction for 1.5 GW Demand Response, 600 MW Solar

IRENA Sees Offshore Wind Hitting 228 GW by 2030

UN Agency Connects Geothermal to Food and Agriculture

Bigger Wind Turbines Can Help Reduce Bird Strikes

$100M Federal Grant Pays Fossils for R&D They Should Fund Themselves, Climate Hawks Contend

The Trudeau government faced immediate criticism yesterday after re-announcing a four-year, C$100-million budget promise from March 2019 to help the fossil industry commercialize emerging technologies.

Alberta Government Lays Out Welcome Mat for Australian Coal Mining Interests

The Jason Kenney government in Alberta has laid down the red carpet for heavyweight Australian mining interests that want to bring mountaintop removal coal mining to a vast swath of the southern Rockies. And with at-risk ecosystems and their own livelihoods at stake, local farmers and ranchers are fighting back.

Hastings-Simon: Alberta Government Must Wake up to ‘Spectacular’ Drop in Solar Power Costs

Solar’s recent coronation by the International Energy Agency as the “king” of global electricity markets is a literal power shift that bodes ill for Alberta’s oilpatch, says one of the province’s top energy policy experts.

Fossil Investors Bail as Pandemic and Oil Politics Hold Prices Down, Renewables Stocks Surge

In Canada and around the world, a growing number of investors are rushing for the exits in their haste to abandon a crashing fossil fuel industry.

France Delays $7-Billion LNG Import Over West Texas Methane Emissions

France is slamming on the brakes on a US$7-billion liquefied natural gas import deal by energy trader and utility Engie, out of concern that the product coming from a Texas fossil is too emissions-intensive.

Global Hydrogen Race Will Be Only Won by Cleanest Producers, Smith and Petrevan Predict

As Canada moves to stake its claim in the burgeoning hydrogen fuel market—a claim that includes Alberta’s recent bet on “blue hydrogen”—policy experts are warning that it will be only the cleanest hydrogen that takes the prize in a zero-carbon world.

Ottawa City Plan Sets Sights on Zero Emissions, 4.4 GW of New Renewables by 2050

The City of Ottawa has released a long-awaited energy transition plan that has it eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out all fossil fuel use, shifting all heating and transportation to electricity or other zero-emission options, and adding 4.4 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity by 2050.

IEEFA Foresees ‘Stranded Assets, Depleted Finance’ in British Columbia’s LNG Strategy

The Conference Board of Canada stands accused of “doubling down on a bad hand” after the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reviewed its latest assessment of British Columbia’s prospects for a successful liquefied natural gas (LNG) boom.

Vancouver Fossil’s Oil Drilling Plan Alarms Local Environmentalists in Southern Africa

A fossil company based in British Columbia is raising alarms with environmentalists in southern Africa with plans to touch off an oil boom in Kavango Basin, in the Kalahari region of Namibia and Botswana.

Maui Files Lawsuit to Recover Climate Damages from 20 Fossil Companies

Maui County in Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against 20 oil and gas companies, including colossal fossils ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips, hoping to secure compensation for the rising costs the community faces due to climate change.

U.S. Regulator Allows Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction to Restart

Three-Quarters of BP’s 10,000 Job Cuts Will Be Involuntary

Saskatchewan Gives Smaller Fossils a Break on Federal Carbon Price

Canada Signs On to Nuclear Fusion Project After 15-Year Absence

Enbridge Accused of Engineering Dismissal of Minnesota Cabinet Secretary

Clean Water Wins as Ohio Regulator Nixes Fracking Storage Permits

German Environment Minister Wants 75-80% Renewables by 2030

Carney Urges Vastly Bigger Global Market for Carbon Offsets

Researchers See Big Tidal Potential in New Zealand’s Cook Strait

IEA Sees Solar as Europe’s Biggest Power Source in Five Years

ICCT Offers Guidance on Greening Supply Chains

BREAKING: First Nations Fear ‘Losing Everything’ as Communities Face ‘Climate Exacerbated Food Poverty’

Indigenous people who live off the land are increasingly at risk of food insecurity and the health problems it causes thanks to federal policies that ignore the impacts of climate change on traditional foods, concludes an 18-month study released this morning.

Wilkinson Interested in Carbon Border Adjustment as Analysts Scan Biden Trade Policies

The Trudeau government is expressing warmer interest in carbon border adjustments (CBAs) as a way to control industrial greenhouse gas emissions without putting Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally, just as the European Union and the United States begin serious musings about taking similar steps, the Globe and Mail reports this week.

Coloradans Urge Canadian Pension Holders to Stop Investing in Denver-Based Fracking Company [Video]

With the Canada Pension Plan’s biannual public meetings under way this week, people from across Colorado have put together a series of video messages asking Canadian pension holders to stop funding fossil fuel companies—particularly Denver-based Crestone Peak Resources, a company 95% owned by the CPP.

Exxon Wants You to Know that Trump Didn’t Shake Them Down for a $10-Million Campaign Donation

ExxonMobil was scrambling Monday to clarify that it never received pressure from Donald Trump for a US$10-million campaign donation, after the rapidly-fading presidential candidate used the colossal fossil as an (apparently hypothetical) example of his fundraising prowess Monday evening.

Federal Nuclear Funding Announcement a ‘Dirty, Dangerous Distraction’, 30 Groups Warn

A collection of 30 local, regional, and national public interest organizations from across the country is rallying against next-generation nuclear power development after the federal government announced a C$20-million infusion for the industry tied to its 2050 net-zero emissions target.

Op-ed: Alberta’s Managed Coal Power Plummet a Climate ‘Success Story’

Alberta’s turn away from coal has been a “climate action success story” thanks to key policies—many unpopular—set by former premier Rachel Notley, according to a recent essay written by two Alberta economists.

30% of Gulf of Mexico Oil Production Still Offline after Hurricane Delta

Mitsubishi Looks for Offshore Wind Opportunities on U.S. Side of Great Lakes

Russian Oil Drilling Could Fall 20% in 2021

Ontario Set for New Conservation/Demand Management Framework in 2021

Whitby Adopts New Green Growth Standard

Comox, B.C. Gets First Home Built to Passive House Standard

Illinois Utility Looks to Early Retirement for Four Money-Losing Nuclear Plants

Maine Turns to Solar to Meet Energy Transition Goals

Climate Change Since 2000 Will Harm U.S. Economy Through 2050

IEEFA Sees Wind-Solar Hybrids Driving Renewables Growth in India

Construction Begins on Mekong River Delta Wind Project

Homeowners Fret about High Cost of EU ‘Renovation Wave’

Kenya Finishes Construction on 105-MW Geothermal Plant

Climate Produces Risks for Fossil Plant Operations

Nigeria Carbon Target at Risk as Flaring Reduction Plan Stalls

Geothermal Supplies One-Third of Nicaragua Electricity

New Fossil Investment in Alberta Depends on Environmental Action, Kenney Proclaims

In what CBC is calling “a major shift in tone for the Alberta premier”, Jason Kenney is saying Alberta fossils’ access to new project investment will depend on environmental action from industry and government.

New IMF Climate Action Blueprint Maintains GDP, Factors in Human Health

Rejecting the oft-cited dictum that growth must be sacrificed to cut emissions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a “blueprint” for getting to net-zero by 2050 without economic pain—and with a healthier global population.

Building Retrofits, Clean Transportation Lead Green Budget Coalition’s 2020 Recommendations

The Green Budget Coalition is calling on the Trudeau government to include C$10 billion for building energy retrofits, $4.8 billion for clean transportation, $4.8 billion for protected areas, and $2.6 billion for nature-based climate solutions in its 2020 budget.

Horgan Takes Fire for Boosting Fossil Subsidies as B.C. Election Nears [Sign-On]

With British Columbia five days away from a provincial election October 24, and mail-in voting already well under way, Premier John Horgan’s New Democrats are taking fire for doubling down on the subsidies the previous Liberal government had extended to the province’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

New York Looks to Replace Six Gas Peaker Plants, Brings Environmental Justice Groups Into the Process

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is considering replacing six gas-fired peak power plants in the New York City area with battery storage and other advanced energy options, and promised last week to plan the transition in partnership with environmental justice groups.

Methane Emissions Rise 32% Despite Economic Slump as EU Considers Mandatory Import Standards

With global methane emissions rising sharply, by 32% so far this year despite the pandemic-driven recession, the European Union may consider mandatory emission standards for oil and gas imports that would push fossils to report and repair leaks of the climate-busting greenhouse gas.

Physicians Urge B.C. to Shift from Gas to Electric Appliances

Japan to Release Contaminated Fukushima Water into Ocean

Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management Opens Bids on $1.4B Australian Coal Port

Indiana Poll Shows ‘Even Republicans’ Put Environment Over Economy

U.S. Communities Pay Higher Prices for Long-Term Coal, Hydroelectric Projects

Hawaii Utility Looks for 300 MW New Solar, 2,000 MWh Storage

India Coal Mine Auction Gets No Bids for Two-Fifths of Properties

Solar, Wind Exceed 50% of Australia’s Electricity Supply Despite Coal-Obsessed Government

France’s 250 Ski Resorts Embrace Hydrogen-Powered Snow Grooming Machines

Siemens Will Build Gas Turbines for Mozambique LNG Megaproject

Poland Pledges Coal Mine Shutdown for 2049

Lithium-Ion Batteries Due to Fall Below $100/kWh Benchmark by 2023

EVs Cost Half as Much as Internal Combustion to Maintain

Developer Plans 4.4 GW Offshore Wind for Taiwan

Solar the ‘New King of Electricity’, Trans Mountain at Risk as IEA Analysis Sinks In

An acknowledgement that solar now delivers the “cheapest electricity in history” and a new source of uncertainty for Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are two of the takeaways emerging from the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2020—amid criticism that the release still falls short of the analysis that would guide governments and investors to a 1.5°C future.

IEA’s ‘Gold Standard’ Energy Modelling Still Gives Short Shrift to 1.5°C Pathways, Trout Says

Kelly Trout is a senior research analyst with Oil Change International. In this feature interview, she talks about the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), the agency’s long-standing allegiance to the fossil fuel industries, and what it would take for the IEA to really deliver “gold standard” energy modelling in an era of climate emergency.

Why Canada Needs a Royal Commission on What the Hell Do We Do Now

Let’s face it Canada, as things go in this troubled world, we’re not doing badly. But that’s exactly when we need to take a breath and consider all the things either going wrong outside our borders, challenging us beyond today at home, or just upending all our old expectations from, oh, let’s say, January. An opinion piece by veteran journalist and former Energy Mix co-curator Chris Wood.

World Bank Directs $2B to Fossil Projects Over Two Years, $12B Since Paris Agreement

The World Bank is continuing a pattern of investing billions of dollars in fossil fuels, undercutting its own commitment in late 2018 to increase funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation between 2021 and 2025.

Study Urges Fast Transition Off Fossil Fuels for Asia’s Electricity Grids

It’s time for Asia—the region that British Columbia and Alberta are counting on as a future market for oil and gas exports—to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and risk of stranded assets by embracing low-cost renewable energy options, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concludes in a new report.

Prioritize Degrowth over Electrification to Meet Paris Targets, Study Urges

A mass shift toward electric transport is not enough to bring global transportation emissions in line with the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a new study that calls for aggressive “degrowth”— encompassing radical mobility shifts—to keep warming below 2°C.

U.S. Expects Coal-Fired Electricity to Grow Next Year

EU Sends Anti-Terror Aid to Mozambique After Request from LNG Fossil Total

Ardern Promises to Phase Out Coal, Cut Emissions as October 17 Election Looms

Keystone XL Brings ‘Mini-Boom’ to Oyen, Alberta

Alberta Will Make Good on $1.5 Billion in Green Line LRT Funding

Nunavut Hamlet Gets Approval for Solar Array to Run Community Freezer

Fracking CEO Faces Fraud Lawsuit

Bankrupt Murray Energy Rebrands, Rehires Union Workers

U.S. Regulator Breaks 40-Year Precedent on Small-Scale Solar

Illinois Startup Raises $90M for Solar-Electric Kits for Sub-Saharan Africa

Homeowners in Coal-Obsessed Australia Embrace Rooftop Solar

Goldman Sachs Touts $12-Trillion Green Hydrogen Market

Vietnam Could Install 10 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030: World Bank Study

BREAKING: ‘Baby Steps’ in Annual Analysis Make International Energy Agency a ‘Threat to Climate Safety’

The International Energy Agency is taking intense criticism this morning for a set of energy futures scenarios that factor in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recognize the transition taking hold in global energy production, but still guide governments, corporations, and investors toward decisions that will drive average global warming far above 1.5°C.

Small, Mid-Sized Fossils May Face Cash Crunch as Bankers Get Jittery

November may be emerging as a crunch month for Canada’s small and mid-sized fossil producers, as banks go through a semi-annual review of whether their borrowers’ financial health and future prospects justify the level of operating loans they depend on—particularly with a second wave of the pandemic gaining momentum.

Fossil Shutdowns Could Lead to Pricey Compensation Claims Under Investor Dispute Settlement Rules

A maze of more than 2,600 bilateral treaties and preferential trade agreements could expose governments to costly lawsuits by allowing foreign investors and shareholders to recover losses on their stranded oil, gas, and coal assets, according to a new analysis by the London, UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development.

Hurricane Delta Hits Louisiana Just Six Weeks After Hurricane Laura’s Devastation

Hurricane Delta tore into a part of Louisiana that was still recovering from Hurricane Laura just six weeks earlier, landing as a Category 2 storm that flooded hundreds of buildings that had already been damaged by the previous Category 4 disaster.

2020 Ties U.S. Record for Most Damaging Climate Disasters

2020 has already tied the U.S. record for the largest number of climate disasters that produced at least US$1 billion in damage. And the year still has nearly three months to go.

Natural Gas ‘Bridge’ Gets ‘Shorter and Narrower’ as Corona Drives Down Demand

Natural gas is quickly declining as a supposed “bridge” between coal-fired electricity and renewable energy, without even factoring in the climate-busting methane emissions that come along with natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

With World’s Cheapest Crude, Saudi Aramco Aims to Cash In on Global Fossil Decline

With the COVID-19 pandemic driving down global oil demand, prompting analysts and fossil execs to declare that the moment of peak oil production has arrived, Saudi Aramco is doubling down on its plan to be the last producer standing as the global economy decarbonizes.

Global Energy Storage Could Hit 741 GWh by 2030

Global energy storage capacity could hit 741 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2030, an astonishing threshold that would be driven by compound annual growth of 31%, according to a new assessment by Wood Mackenzie that shows the United States accounting for almost half of the global total.

U.S. Corona Plan Hands $5B to 133 Fossils with No Strings Attached

Canada Would Need Minimum $117 Carbon Price without Other Emission Reduction Programs: PBO

India Plans to Replace Old Gas Plants with Renewables

Trans Mountain Work Force Hits 5,600 as Campaigners Question Construction Schedule

VW Canada Plans All-Electric SUV for Mid-2021

Zinc-Air Battery Designer Wins U.S. Innovation Award

Tesla Plans to Mine Its Own Lithium

Morgan Stanley Sets 2050 Deadline to End Net Emissions from Finance

U.S. Court Strikes Down Obama-Era Methane Rule

Billionaire Pipeliner Kelcy Warren Steps Down as Energy Transfer CEO

$100B in Stimulus to Advanced Energy Would Bring California $700B in Benefits

Chevron Purchase Could Lead to Natural Gas ‘Bonanza’ in Israel

UK Wind Farm Expansion Could Power a Million Homes

Myanmar Issues Call for 1 GW of Solar, Receives Low Bid of 3.48¢/kWh

Solar Module Manufacturing Gets Rolling in Burkina Faso

Montana Coal Production Drops 21% Since 2019

Leaked 2018 Strategy Proposed ‘Broader Than Oil’ Coalition to Undercut Ottawa’s Clean Fuel Standard

A top communications and government relations firm led by long-time Conservative Party strategist Jaime Watt developed a confidential plan to undercut support for the federal Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) by convincing Canadians that “fighting climate change is a losing battle,” according to leaked documents released this week by Greenpeace Canada.

European Parliament Adopts 60% Carbon Cut by 2030 as Fossils Fall Short of Paris Targets

European legislators adopted a legally-binding target this week to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2030, more ambitious than the net reduction of “at least 55%” the European Commission had proposed, even as a new study found the continent’s fossil companies’ climate plans falling short of the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Canada’s Plastics Reduction Plan Earns Praise, Criticism

The Canadian government’s declared intent to ban certain single-use plastics and start leading on recycled content standards and extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs has met with backlash, praise, and demands that more be done.

Federal, Ontario Governments Announce $590 Million for Ford’s Oakville EV Plant

The federal and Ontario governments will each invest C$295 million to help Ford Motor Co. retool its assembly plant in Oakville to make electric vehicles.

Job Losses Hit Newfoundland as Three Fossils Announce Shutdowns

Newfoundland and Labrador is reeling from a series of fossil job losses this week, with three different companies all announcing definite or likely cuts.

Analysis: Alberta Natural Gas Plan Has Kenney Venturing Boldly Backwards

The Jason Kenney government in Alberta is pitching hydrogen, plastics recycling, and even geothermal energy as elements of an economic diversification strategy that leans heavily on natural gas to create tens of thousands of jobs and reboot the province’s sagging economy.

‘Silver Bullet’ Hopes Shouldn’t Distract from Today’s Renewable Energy Solutions, Experts Say

Faced with a massive wave of hype for a new generation of “silver bullet” climate solutions, from green hydrogen to carbon capture to (relatively) small nuclear reactors, experts are pointing back to the established technologies that can already deliver on a decarbonization agenda while bringing solid financial returns to investors.

University of Calgary Sees Plummeting Enrolment for Oil and Gas Sciences

University of Calgary undergrads are fleeing en masse from oil and gas-friendly majors as job security in the industry plummets. And renewable energy studies are picking up the slack.

Batteries Reach Tipping Point, Usurp Gas