Wednesday's energy & environment stories

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Jul 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Global mayors call for green investments in COVID-19 recovery efforts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Urban economies need to be rebuilt to prioritize green investments in order to create a more resilient, just society that can withstand global shocks, argue the mayors of many of the world's biggest cities in a report out Wednesday.

Why it matters: "A return to 'business as usual' would not just be a monumental failure of imagination, but lock in the inequities laid bare by the pandemic and the inevitability of more devastating crises due to the climate breakdown," the group of mayors concludes.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why transitioning to electric vehicles might be cheaper in the long run

Falling costs for battery and fuel cell technology mean that governments can push for widespread deployment of zero-emissions vehicles without straining taxpayers, University of California, Davis researchers say.

Why it matters: Transportation overtook electricity generation a few years ago as the nation's largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Fossil fuels have upper hand in G20 coronavirus stimulus plans so far

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

G20 governments' pandemic recovery packages are steering much more funding to fossil fuel industries and energy-intensive sectors like airlines than "clean" energy, an Energy Policy Tracker project from several think tanks and activist groups shows.

Why it matters: International agencies like the United Nations and International Monetary Fund have been urging governments to prioritize climate-friendly energy in economic recovery packages.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

BlackRock took "voting action" against 53 companies on climate issues so far this year

Photo: Hannes Breustedt/picture alliance via Getty Images

BlackRock, in a report published Tuesday, said this year it has used its shares to take "voting action" against 53 companies that are "making insufficient progress integrating climate risk into their business models or disclosures."

Why it matters: The tally is an early sign of how BlackRock is implementing one element of its wider plan unveiled early this year to make climate change more central to its strategy.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden teases political path for climate plans

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden is offering hints about how he’d try to thread the political needle to move big climate and energy plans through Congress.

Why it matters: If the 2020 election opens a path to moving substantial legislation, it's likely to be a fraught and narrow one that could vanish entirely in the 2022 midterm elections.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jul 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Appeals court rules Dakota Access Pipeline can continue operating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will remain operating (for now) after a federal appeals court on Tuesday granted the company's stay order as part of a broader legal and permitting fight over the project, per Reuters.

Why it matters: It's the latest twist in a series of lawsuit battles over pipelines that have become a proxy for a national debate on energy and climate change.

Go deeper: Court orders temporary shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline

Trump to announce revision to environmental law that protects minority communities

President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump is reportedly planning to announce an overhaul to a law on Wednesday that could prevent low-income and minority communities from voicing concerns about projects that could pollute their neighborhoods, The Washington Post writes.

Why it matters: Trump is expected to argue that the National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law by President Nixon in 1970, would create jobs by making it easier for his administration to build infrastructure including highways, pipelines and chemical plants. The Post notes that such projects pose major environmental threats.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Updated Jul 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils $2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan

Joe Biden expanded his energy and climate plans Tuesday with a call for spending $2 trillion over four years on climate-friendly infrastructure — a proposal the campaign is casting as part of a wider economic recovery package.

The latest: "Look, these aren’t pie in the sky dreams," Biden said in a speech outlining the proposal on Tuesday. "These are actionable policies that we can work on right away."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

States team up in push for electric heavy vehicles

16th Street Mall busses in Denver. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A new pact to speed deployment of zero-emission trucks, vans, buses and other big vehicles that move lots of people and objects around was unveiled by 15 states plus D.C. this morning.

Why it matters: The new "memorandum of understanding" is non-binding, but it sets aggressive targets, and provides a template for working together on emissions from industries that often operate across state lines.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Electric vehicle companies are reeling in cash without producing a car

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

These are heady days for electric vehicle companies, with a lack of actual car production becoming a popular norm.

Why it matters: The capital infusion is the latest in a busy stretch of deals and market moves that suggest private investors and equity markets see big potential in technologies that now represent a tiny slice of the global vehicle fleet.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Offshore wind surge powers renewable capacity despite coronavirus

Reproduced from BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals 

A big rise in offshore wind power deals pushed global investment in new renewable power capacity in the first half of 2020 above the same period last year, new data shows.

Why it matters: It signals how the renewables sector as a whole has proven rather resilient to the pandemic, despite some declines in onshore wind and solar investment, BloombergNEF analysts said.