Feb 11, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Dominion joins power giants' net-zero carbon emissions push

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

The huge utility Dominion Energy vowed Tuesday to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Virginia-headquartered Dominion has ranked among the country's 10 largest power generators and operates in 18 states.

  • They're joining a growing list of utility giants making long-term emissions pledges.
  • Others with net-zero commitments or carbon-free pledges by midcentury include Duke, Xcel Energy, Arizona Public Service, and DTE Energy.

What's next: "The company will focus not only on driving toward the 2050 goal, but on achieving near-term progress, particularly on methane emissions," the announcement states.

  • It includes a nearer-term goal of cutting emissions of methane, a highly potent planet-warmer, by 65% by 2030.

The big picture: Dominion — whose fleet includes coal, gas, nuclear and renewables — said it plans to meet the overall goal with a menu of strategies.

  • That includes its power generation — such as more renewables investments and nuclear plant life extensions — but also more efforts to spur emissions cuts in other industries.
  • On the transportation side, they're exploring faster EV charging deployment; boosting their existing electric school bus program; and use of gas and hydrogen in heavy vehicles.
  • They aim to help industrial energy users move away from coal and oil with natural gas, and to expand their work with agriculture sector on methane capture.
  • Over the long-term, they're citing the potential for tech like carbon capture, large-scale storage, and new reactor technologies.

Go deeper

BP vows to "fundamentally" change with net-zero emissions target

Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

BP said Wednesday that it is reorienting its business with new climate targets — including first-time emissions commitments for its products' use in the economy — and a new team to help countries, cities and other companies cut carbon.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how multinational oil-and-gas giants — especially European-headquartered players — are expanding climate pledges under intense pressure from activists and investors.

Global CO2 emissions were flat in 2019

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

An IEA analysis released Monday found that energy-related CO2 emissions were flat last year at 33.3 gigatonnes.

Why it matters: Scientific analyses show that steep cuts — not just a plateau — are needed to meet the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Study: Methane gas emissions could be greater than previously known

Flaring natural gas burns by jack pumps at an oil well near Buford, North Dakota. Photo: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

Greenhouse gas emissions from methane, which largely originates from natural gas production and agriculture, have been underestimated by 25% to 40% compared to recent gauges, per a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Why it matters: Methane gas is more potent than CO2 at trapping heat on a pound-for-pound basis in the short-term, which makes it an important factor to weigh as countries tackle global warming.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Science