Thursday's energy & environment stories

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 8, 2021 - Economy & Business

The link between economic growth and CO2 emissions is weakening

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Data: The Breakthrough Institute; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

An analysis finds "increasing evidence" of a fraying connection between economic growth and higher carbon emissions — a needed first step toward steep CO2 cuts.

Driving the news: The Breakthrough Institute's Zeke Hausfather finds that since 2005, emissions have become "decoupled" from GDP growth in 32 nations with a population of at least 1 million people.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Treasury puts a number on its fossil tax plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Treasury Department estimates its plan to end subsidies for fossil fuel companies would bring in over $35 billion in federal revenue over 10 years.

Driving the news: "The main impact would be on oil and gas company profits. Research suggests little impact on gasoline or energy prices for U.S. consumers and little impact on our energy security," officials said in a report on the wider White House tax policy proposal.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 8, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The emerging frontiers of climate activism

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The new(ish) group Law Students for Climate Accountability just launched a pressure campaign against the heavyweight law firm Gibson Dunn over its work for oil industry clients.

Why it matters: It's just one of many examples of how climate activism has been tactically evolving in recent months and years. That includes taking aim at a wider suite of corporate targets, like PR agencies and big tech, and intensifying a years-long focus on the finance sector.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: Energy jobs pay far above the national average

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Data: Energy Futures Initiative et al. report; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

New data shows both the promise and peril of the White House push to speed deployment of renewables while also accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

Driving the news: A report on energy industry wages across sectors shows that they're far above the national median and more likely to provide healthcare and retirement benefits than the national average.

Drought stokes fears of severe fire season in West

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Reproduced from the U.S. Drought Monitor; Chart: Sara Wise

It's only early April, but parts of the West are already at mid-July levels of dryness — and scientists are warning that the upcoming fire season could be destructive.

Why it matters: This summer will mark one year since the West Coast experienced a historic spate of wildfires. The prospect of another severe fire season, along with concerns about water supplies, is raising questions about how to prepare the region for the ravages of climate change.

White House claims climate credibility before summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is making the case that its climate moves to date create enough credibility to press other nations to bolster their commitments at an upcoming summit.

Where it stands: Congress has barely begun digesting President Biden's proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure package that's stuffed with the biggest clean energy investments any president has put forward. But a top official hinted Tuesday that it would rely on all the climate policy moves it has set into motion when Biden convenes world leaders for a virtual White House climate summit on April 22-23.

Cold snap caused most Texas outages during storm, grid operator says

The U.S. and Texas flags fly in front of high voltage transmission towers in Houston in February. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Weather-related problems were the leading cause of Texas power plants going offline during February's record cold snap that left millions of Texans in the dark, a preliminary report published Tuesday states.

Why it matters: These initial findings from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power in the state, indicate that many facilities were unable to cope with the extreme weather.