Friday's energy & environment stories

Global warming breaks Canada's last intact ice shelf

A view above Ellesmere Island, Canada, in 2017.

Canada's only ice shelf broke apart due to a hot summer and climate change, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Ice shelves are between hundreds and thousands of years old and bulkier than long-term sea ice. Their disappearance from Canada showcases how the Arctic has warmed faster than the rest of globe.

Aug 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

General Motors tries to revive incendiary lawsuit vs. Fiat Chrysler

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

General Motors is trying to revive an incendiary lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with explosive new allegations including bribes paid from secret offshore bank accounts and a union official acting as a double agent between the two automotive giants.

Why it matters: The extraordinary legal battle is occurring amid earth-shaking changes in the global auto industry that threaten to turn both litigants into dinosaurs if they aren't nimble enough to pivot to a future where transportation is a service, cars run on electrons and a robot handles the driving.

Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

GM toys with spinning off its electric vehicle business

Coming in 2022: the electric Cadillac LYRIQ. Photo: GM

Wall Street still views General Motors as yesterday's news, so one way for GM to get credit for its in-house capability is to spin off its electric vehicle operations as a stand-alone business.

Why it matters: Pure plays on electric vehicles are all the rage among investors — just look at Tesla's valuation.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

With rise of remote work, pandemic shifts power bills from offices to homes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While overall energy use declined when coronavirus-induced lockdowns took effect, residential power costs rose for many people, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: It shows how staying at home means moving energy costs from offices to homes, "a shift that, with the accompanying expense, could make things worse for those already suffering financially as a consequence of the pandemic."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

GM's high-stakes electric move

The Cadillac Lyriq. Image courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac on Thursday unveiled the Lyriq, the luxury brand's first all-electric model and GM's first consumer electric vehicle unveil since the Chevy Bolt several years ago.

Why it matters: It's the first reveal by GM of an electric vehicle that will use the company's new modular platform and Ultium battery system — technologies meant to underpin the 20 electric vehicles that GM plans to launch by 2023.

Paving Amazon highway could cause irreversible damage, researchers warn

Lone burnt tree stands in a deforested area near Porto Velho, Rondônia State, in Brazil's Amazon basin in 2019. Photo: Carl De Souza/AFP via Getty Images

Paving a Brazilian highway that runs through the Amazon without environmental studies could lead to massive deforestation and release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, two scientists warn in a letter published in Science Thursday.

State of play: Brazil's administration is facing a rampant COVID-19 pandemic, the probability of its worst recession ever and criminal investigations. Estimates of soaring illegal deforestation has led to a global backlash over not protecting the Amazon.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Peabody Energy writes down value of world's largest coal mine by $1.42 billion

Coal giant Peabody Energy is writing down the value of its huge North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming by $1.42 billion, the company announced yesterday.

Why it matters: It's the world's largest coal mine, per several reports, and the write-down is a stark sign of the coal sector's wider struggles in a changing power mix.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's clean energy push resonates in Senate battlegrounds

Data: Data for Progress; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Joe Biden's climate posture is a political winner in four states where Senate races and the presidential contest are competitive, per new polling from progressive think tank Data for Progress.

Why it matters: Biden has tethered the spending portion of his energy and climate platform to his wider economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, which could mean a quick push for legislative action if he wins.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Filibuster and Obama fossil fuel ties could slow Biden's climate ambitions

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Two new stories, taken together, highlight the political push-pull around Joe Biden's climate and energy plans.

Driving the news: Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that some left activists "want Biden to distance himself from former Obama administration advisers they view as either too moderate or too cozy with the fossil fuel industry."

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus hastens Big Oil's Atlantic divide on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic is accelerating a divide between European and American oil companies over climate change and clean energy.

Why it matters: Bottom lines and investor returns will be vastly different across the corporate spectrum depending on how aggressively the world tackles climate change in the coming decades.