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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Exxon has paused plans to develop a major carbon storage project in Wyoming as the pandemic curtails industry spending plans, according to Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Experts, including the UN's climate science panel, say CO2 trapping and removal tech will need to play a role in holding warming in check.

Yes, but: As Bloomberg notes...

  • "[I]n the absence of strong government support or regulation, the oil industry might not have the will to invest enough."
  • "Even if Exxon one day completes its plans in Wyoming, the current delay shows that urgent climate projects can sometimes become expendable in a crunch."

What they're saying: Exxon, in a statement to Axios, said LaBarge has not been canceled.

  • The project "remains in our capital plans and the permitting process and necessary design work continue," spokesperson Casey Norton said via email.
Data: In million metric tons, sourced from IEA; Note: Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: An International Energy Agency report this fall on carbon-trapping tech shows just how far away it is from playing a major emissions-cutting role despite recent growth.

  • The study says CO2 capture and storage is a story of "unmet expectations" thus far.
  • "[I]ts potential to mitigate climate change has been recognised for decades, but deployment has been slow and so has had only a limited impact on global CO2 emissions."

By the numbers: The roughly two dozen large-scale carbon capture facilities around the world currently have the capacity to trap about 40 million tons per year, IEA data shows.

What's next: Despite the slow development, IEA sees some momentum, noting the global pipeline of new projects is growing and costs are falling. Plus, as the Bloomberg piece writes, global efforts include...

  • "A Norwegian project to capture carbon from a cement plant is backed by Equinor, Shell, and Total. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in November government support for CCS."
  • "Exxon and Shell are among companies supporting the Netherlands’ Porthos project to bury CO₂ in empty gas fields beneath the North Sea."

Go deeper

Biden will issue executive order to rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

President-elect Biden will issue an executive order on Wednesday to rescind permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first acts on his first day in office.

Why it matters: The move is a major development in a longtime fight over a controversial pipeline that began under the Obama administration. It reverses some of President Trump's own first actions aimed at advancing the project upon taking office in 2017.

On Day One, Biden will move to rejoin Paris Climate Agreement

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President-elect Biden on Wednesday will begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, making good on a highly touted campaign promise.

Catch up fast: President Trump first announced his intention to abandon the accord in June 2017, angering countries worldwide. The U.S. became the only country to pull out of the pact on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the election and the first possible day for the country to withdraw under the agreement's terms.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.