Tuesday's energy & environment stories

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: Oil execs split on decarbonization plans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A lot of discussion about oil companies' climate efforts compares U.S. and European majors, but a new report shows there's no strategic consensus in the wider industry.

Driving the news: Deloitte's analysis says separate approaches have emerged as companies prepare for long-term declines in demand in a world that will still likely use huge amounts of oil for decades.

China's coal convulsion threatens climate goals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's energy crisis is a wild card in the fraught efforts to secure a meaningful deal at the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

Driving the news: Power shortages and the push for more coal supplies are in tension with calls for Chinese officials to accelerate their climate efforts.

Future of megacities "hang in the balance" as diplomats prepare for COP26

Still images from an interactive slider comparing Washington Nationals Stadium's future with steep emissions cuts with our current carbon path. Courtesy: Climate Central

Nations’ follow through — or lack thereof — on pledges made at the looming UN climate summit will help determine the long-term fate of tens of millions of people living in coastal megacities threatened by rising seas.

Why it matters: The delayed response of the climate system, with seas that warm and expand slowly and ice sheets that can take centuries to reach equilibrium — long after air temperatures have leveled off, means the stakes of COP26, and government decisions in coming years, are extraordinarily high.

California attorney general launches oil spill investigation

Crews clean up the oil spill at Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach on Sunday. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that the state's Justice Department is investigating the massive oil spill off Orange County's Huntington Beach coastline.

Why it matters: It's "an environmental disaster with far-reaching consequences for our fish and wildlife, for our communities, and for our economy," Bonita said in a statement.

UN can't rule on climate case brought by Greta Thunberg and youth activists

Greta Thunberg speaks during a climate demonstration in Milan on Oct. 1. Photo: Photo by Matteo Rossetti/Archivio Matteo Rossetti/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

A UN panel announced Monday that it cannot rule on a complaint by Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists stating that inaction on climate change violates children's rights, the UN Human Rights Office said in a press release.

Why it matters: The complaint is part of a trend of legal suits invoking climate inaction as a human rights issue.

Southern California beaches reopen, as oil spill cleanup continues

Oil spill cleanup workers search for contaminated sand and seaweed at Huntington Beach in California on Oct. 9. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Southern California coastal area closed since one of the largest oil spills in the state's recent history struck over a week ago reopened Monday, as cleanup efforts continue.

The latest: Huntington Beach's reopening Monday came sooner than many expected, after water quality tests came back with no detectable levels of oil associated toxins in the ocean water, AP reports.

Over 20 more countries vow to slash methane emissions

John Kerry during an interview in New York City in September. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry announced Monday that 24 additional countries agreed to a voluntary pledge to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by one-third by 2030.

Why it matters: The Global Methane Pledge, which the Biden administration announced with the European Union last month, now includes nine of the world's top 20 methane emitting countries, representing around 30% of total emissions and 60% of the global economy.

Updated Oct 11, 2021 - World

Massive fire extinguished at Lebanon oil facility

Tanker trucks filled with fuel offered by Iraq wait to empty their content at the oil refinery of Zahrani, near the southerm Lebanese city of Sidon (Saida) in August 2020. Photo: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters extinguished a blaze that erupted in a fuel storage tank at Lebanon's Zahrani oil facility, AP reports.

Details: No casualties have been reported. Energy Minister Walid Fayad said the fire started while workers were transferring gasoline from one storage tank to another, per AP. It is not clear what exactly caused the fire.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Chevron announces "aspiration" to be carbon neutral by 2050

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chevron this morning unveiled an "aspiration" to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050.

Why it matters: While several European majors have these long-term goals, to date U.S.-based behemoths Exxon and Chevron have resisted such pledges.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

A new plan to boost community solar

Expand chart
Data: Solar Energy Industries Association; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The Energy Department is launching new efforts to boost "community solar" — a form of development that provides access to people ill-equipped to install rooftop systems.

Driving the news: DOE just launched the "National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP)," which brings together the agency, developers, local and state governments and more.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Pondering Biden's Plan(et) B

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Plan A for the White House is walking into the UN climate summit in Glasgow with a huge new emissions-cutting law from Congress. Plan B is more complicated.

The big picture: It's anyone's guess whether Democrats' reconciliation plan will pass before the summit starts at the end of the month, and if so, whether huge climate investments will be intact.

Oil and gas producers are still holding back

Data: Baker Hughes; Chart: Axios Visuals

Oil and gas prices have skyrocketed this year as energy demand rushes back — but U.S. producers aren’t activating their dormant rigs in droves.

Driving the news: The U.S. added five rigs last week and a total of 30 over the past four weeks, according to Baker Hughes.

Flooding could shut down a quarter of all critical infrastructure in the U.S.

Point on map locations of critical and social infrastructure in Charleston, W.Va., which fall within the First Street Foundation's 1-500 year flood plain (purple zones). Courtesy: First Street Foundation)

About 25%, or 1 in 4 units of critical infrastructure, such as police stations, airports and hospitals, are at risk of being rendered inoperable due to flooding, a comprehensive new report finds. The report points to climate change for heightening risks.

Why it matters: The new national inventory of flood risk during the next thirty years, which takes into account climate change-driven increases in sea levels and heavy precipitation events, is the first of its kind.

Hospitals overhaul climate prep after a relentless year of damages

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A growing part of the U.S. will face an increased risk of critical infrastructure, like emergency services and hospitals, being rendered inoperable due to severe flooding linked to climate change over the next 30 years, a report out Monday from the First Street Foundation shows.

The big picture: Hospital systems are increasingly being disrupted due to climate-fueled weather disasters like more intense hurricanes, flooding, heatwaves and, in some cases, cold snaps, and have to harden their infrastructure.