Energy & Environment

Why it matters: Ominous forecasts about the impact of climate change serve as the backdrop for the world — led by U.S. lawmakers and companies — to debate big action on the problem, which could upend energy systems and our way of life.

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California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, Calif., was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The big picture: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze and the sixth-largest wildfire in state history, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County.

Moody's to acquire disaster risk modeling company RMS for $2 billion

Firefighter near Redding, California. Photo: Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Moody's is acquiring climate and natural disaster risk modeling company RMS for about $2 billion from Daily Mail and General Trust.

Why it matters: Modeling climate risk exposure is becoming critical for a growing number of industries, especially as extreme weather events are dramatically picking up in frequency and impact. Supply chain disruptions are of particular concern.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats seek $500 billion in damages from fossil fuel companies

Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

High-profile progressive Senate Democrats have expanded their climate wish list for the multitrillion-dollar package the White House and Democratic leaders hope to move via budget reconciliation.

Driving the news: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is leading a push for $500 billion in fees over 10 years from large fossil fuel companies — with a big chunk hitting Big Oil — to help finance climate initiatives.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon reportedly weighs 2050 net-zero carbon pledge

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Exxon is "considering a pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050."

Why it matters: It would be a major shift for Exxon, the U.S.-based multinational giant, which to date has opposed the long-term targets embraced by European giants like Shell and BP.

Exclusive: Poll finds bipartisan infrastructure plan has wide support

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Reproduced from Climate Power and Data for Progress; Chart: Axios Visuals

The bipartisan infrastructure plan and many of its individual provisions, enjoy majority of support among likely voters, according to new polling from the advocacy group Climate Power and the left-leaning polling firm Data for Progress, provided first to Axios.

Why it matters: The bill, which contains billions for modernizing the electrical grid, making communities more resilient to climate disasters and boosting electric vehicles, needs at least 10 Republican votes to pass in the Senate.

Wildfires ravage communities in Northern California as thousands evacuate

Firefighters monitoring the scene as flames from the Dixie Fire jump across highway 89 near Greenville, California, on Tuesday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.

Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the town of Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County Wednesday night. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden, top automakers aim for 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House on Thursday is unveiling draft mandates and aspirational targets aimed at drastically cutting vehicle carbon emissions and accelerating the shift to electric models.

Why it matters: Transportation is the largest source of U.S. emissions.

NOAA's updated hurricane outlook calls for even more storms in 2021

Hurricane Dorian seen on Sept. 2, 2019. Photo: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday updated its 2021 Atlantic hurricane seasonal forecast, slightly increasing expectations for the number of named storms and powerful hurricanes.

Why it matters: With the U.S. already reeling from extreme heat and wildfires, disaster response agencies are overstretched. A particularly destructive and active hurricane season could overwhelm some of its response capacity.

In photos: First the record heat came to Greece, then the deadly wildfires

Forest fire flames can be seen in a northeastern suburb of Athens, Greece, on Aug. 3. Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Over 500 firefighters have been leading efforts to control wildfires near Athens, with Greece’s fire service saying on Wednesday that it hopes to bring the flames under control "in the coming hours," AFP reports.

The big picture: More than 75 wildfires broke out in Greece on Tuesday and Wednesday as the country faces its most intense heat wave in decades — temperatures in Athens have reached 43°C (109.4°F), according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian.

Americans' climate action disconnect

Despite a widespread recognition among a majority of Americans that climate change is a problem, and a willingness to take actions to combat it, there’s a large gulf between what people say they would be willing to do and what they are actually doing.

Why it matters: This finding, from a new polling analysis conducted by climate opinion researchers at Yale University and George Mason, suggests there's considerable room for expanding the climate movement beyond current activists.

Kerry names G20 climate holdouts, slams Trump for destroying U.S. credibility

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

John Kerry said the Biden administration is still grappling with ripple effects from former President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement and eschewing of multilateralism writ large.

Driving the news: In an interview with The New Yorker’s David Remnick, Kerry, the special envoy for climate change, said Trump "did a whopper of a job putting America’s credibility in a terrible place, destroying it fundamentally."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Big Oil has big problems despite rising profits

The just-concluded Big Oil earnings season highlighted two things at once: The sector's on far more solid footing than last year, but still faces big headwinds.

Driving the news: BP's stock rose 7% Tuesday after it reported a $2.8 billion Q2 profit after losing $6.7 billion that period last year, and announced higher dividends and new share buybacks.

Floridians (almost) all agree on stronger environmental protections

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Data: Florida Policy Survey; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Floridians see a need for more government action to protect the environment, and a vast majority approve of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, according to a new survey on conservation and environmental policy from the University of South Florida.

The big picture: Generally, there was strong support for protecting natural habitats and endangered species, and most Floridians would support additional funding to preserve ecosystems and wildlife.

An e-scooter that drives like a motorcycle for city commuters

The sleek and simple Zapp i300 is designed for urban commuters. Photo: Zapp

A new high-performance electric scooter is being billed as the transportation solution for urban residents who want an EV but don't have dedicated parking and can't exactly hang a charging cable out their apartment window.

What's happening: The $7,495 Zapp i300 is positioned as a daily commuter vehicle for urban dwellers — offering the convenience of a scooter and the performance of a motorcycle. Debuting this month in Paris, it's headed to Asia and the United States next year.

Debt investors retreat from funding dirty energy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Banks are coming under fire from all sides for their role in funding fossil fuel companies, even though most have pledged to pull back over the coming decades.

What's happening: Despite pressure from activists, shareholders and Democratic politicians to finally divest from carbon-spewing businesses as the planet warms, the biggest American banks are still energetically backing dirty energy.

Frontier passenger taped to seat after allegedly assaulting 3 flight attendants

Photo: Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

A Frontier Airlines passenger was arrested for allegedly groping the breasts of two attendants and punching a third before being taped to his seat for the remainder of his flight from Philadelphia to Miami, per multiple reports.

The big picture: It's been an unprecedented year for reports of unruly and violent airline passengers, with the Federal Aviation Administration dealing with hundreds of cases despite announcing in January a new "zero tolerance" policy.

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