Tuesday's energy & environment stories

Chile's future government will fall on a political extreme

A voter casts her ballot during national elections on Nov. 21, 2021 in Arica, Chile. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Chile's centrist candidates were completely shut out in Sunday's first-round vote, which now heads to a runoff election between a far-right and a far-left candidate.

Why it matters: The outcome of the second round of voting on Dec. 19 will have repercussions for an increasingly polarized Chile and how the country's economy, which is supported by key natural resources such as copper, is handled.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 23, 2021 - Technology

GM plunges into electric marine transport

Photo courtesy of Pure Watercraft

General Motors' expanding electric vehicles' business left dry land Monday when the auto giant announced it's acquiring a 25% stake in the electric boating company Pure Watercraft.

Why it matters: "The investment in Pure Watercraft represents the first time GM will commercialize all-electric marine products and applications," Mark Lubin, a GM spokesman, tells Axios.

What's next for the Fed on climate change

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Getty Images photos: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP and Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The Federal Reserve is poised to increase its climate focus even as President Biden's nomination of Chairman Jerome Powell to a second term disappointed advocates of policies to tilt the economy away from fossil fuels.

Catch up fast: Biden on Monday announced Powell's nod and said he's tapping Lael Brainard — a Fed board member who's outspoken on climate — as vice chair.

U.S. to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve

Biden speaking from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 22. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden directed the Department of Energy on Tuesday to release 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower fuel prices.

Why it matters: It's the Biden administration's most direct effort yet to tamp down on high gasoline prices that have become a political headache for the White House amid wider inflation.

British Columbia bracing for "parade of storms" amid flood recovery

Satellite images taken last Friday of flooding in Sumas Prairie to the east of Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada, near the border with the U.S. Photo: Maxar Technologies

Canadian officials warn a "parade of storms" is set to pummel British Columbia with more heavy rains this week.

Why it matters: The province is still reeling from last week's "atmospheric river event" that hit the Pacific Northwest, triggering record rainfall, extensive flooding and mudslides. The deadly storm displaced thousands of people, CBC News notes.

Study casts doubt on climate emissions pledge estimates

In an aerial view, floodwaters surround homes and farms on Nov. 20 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new analysis casts doubt on whether scientists can precisely estimate how much nations' combined emissions-cutting pledges will stem global warming, instead showing a wide range of potential outcomes.

Why it matters: World leaders need to know if emissions targets currently on the table would meet the Paris Agreement's temperature goals or if more stringent commitments are needed. The new study shows they may be placing too much faith in temperature projections.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

U.S. fuel economy hits record high but falls short of policymakers' hopes

Data: EPA; Chart: Axios Visuals

New EPA data on U.S. vehicle fuel economy paints a mixed picture, showing record average efficiency in model year 2020 that's nonetheless far short of what policymakers hope to see ahead.

Driving the news: The annual report shows that average overall fuel economy for cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in the U.S. reached 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2020 in real-world conditions, a 0.5 mpg increase over 2019.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Fuel efficiency progress "is stalling" because of growth of SUVs

Expand chart
Data: Global Fuel Economy Initiative/IEA; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

A new(ish) analysis shows that "fuel economy progress is stalling" amid the growing global popularity of SUVs and light trucks.

Driving the news: The joint report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) and the International Energy Agency takes stock of where things stand through 2019, the last year with comparative data.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The murky future of Biden's climate agenda in the Senate

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

House Democrats passed their $1.75 trillion social spending and climate package last week, but what happens next is hazy.

Why it matters: The bill, if it makes the finish line, would be by far the most sweeping U.S. climate package ever enacted.