Stories by Amy Myers Jaffe

Expert Voices

Qatar's OPEC exit signals intensifying energy competition beyond oil

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs, speaks during a press conference in the capital Doha on December 3, 2018.
Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi at a press conference in Doha, on December 3, 2018. Photo: Anne Levasseur/AFP via Getty Images

In announcing Monday that it would leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Qatar emphasized an intention to enhance its standing as the world’s leading natural-gas producer and as “a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe.” The tiny emirate, currently under a Saudi-led blockade, plans to increase its annual production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 77 million tons to 110 million tons in the coming years.

Why it matters: Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC is a slap in the face of Saudi Arabia, which plays a leadership role inside the organization. It also reflects changes in global energy markets, where the competition among different fuels — coal, oil, nuclear, renewables and natural gas — is intensifying as major economies seek to decarbonize.

Expert Voices

Energy system ill-prepared for impact of accelerated global warming

Pacific Gas and Electric Company crews work to restore power near fire-damaged Cardinal Newman High School on October 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company crews work to restore power near fire-damaged Cardinal Newman High School on October 14, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew via Getty Images

The intensity of the wildfires raging in California is just the latest example of climate change's deadly manifestations. Northern California utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is under renewed scrutiny as a possible culprit in the Camp fire, which has devastated towns north of Sacramento, raising serious questions about the fitness of the utility's equipment and its compliance with state safety laws.

The big picture: PG&E is not alone in being unprepared for the harmful effects of a warming planet. Around the globe, many energy and fuel producers have been caught off guard this year by severe storms, anomalous temperatures and rapid changes to available water supplies.

Expert Voices

Lower EPA fuel efficiency standards threaten U.S. energy dominance

traffic jam on highway outside Chicago
Chicago traffic. Photo: Patrick Gorski / NurPhoto via Getty Images

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a draft plan to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles. If approved by President Trump, the policy will create a conflict with California and the 12 states that follow its rules. They will likely keep the current tighter standards on the books while other states opt to follow the new, weaker rules.

Why it matters: The fuel economy standards for automobiles were a key pillar in the U.S. pledge to reduce greenhouse gases to 26–28% of 2005 levels by 2025 under the Paris Agreement. They would provide carbon savings equivalent to 272 million tons of CO2.

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