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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.