Yesterday marked exactly 30 years since Public Enemy released "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back." So that groundbreaking act provide today's intro tune...
A few new reports underscore a common theme of this newsletter: the immensity of the global climate problem and the ramifications for energy.
New projection: The Rhodium Group consultancy published a big picture look at U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trends. Some of the takeaways...
In their "baseline" scenario (see chart above), emissions are 15%–19% below 2005 levels in 2025 and 10%–18% lower by 2030. Economic and energy market uncertainties widen those ranges a lot in both directions.
One key finding: "Cheap natural gas and renewables continue to thrust coal out of the market, but after 2025 those same forces push a larger share of zero-emitting nuclear plants into retirement — leading to a rebound in power sector emissions."
Why that matters: One reason is that it reinforces how, despite the surge in renewables, nuclear plants slated to go offline will have a big effect.
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Two pieces by Axios science editor Andrew Freedman underscore the effects of climate change and the challenge of fighting it.
1. Tropical trees: Last year saw the second-largest tropical tree cover loss on record since 1999, in large part because of human-caused fires in the Amazon, a new analysis from the World Resources Institute and University of Maryland found.
Two smart pieces of commentary explore why OPEC's decision to lift output was a split decision for the White House, which openly called for higher production.
1. In Bloomberg's opinion section, Harvard's Meghan O'Sullivan writes that President Trump may have overplayed his hand by taking tough stances against Iran and Venezuela at a time of tightening markets.
2. The Atlantic Council has a good interview with RBC Capital Markets' Helima Croft. She's more bullish on how the White House fared, calling the administration the "biggest winner" from the OPEC meeting.
Situational awareness: "Oil prices rose Friday, holding on to more than three-year highs, supported by continuing risks to supply in Libya, Iran and North America," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Powelson out: Robert Powelson, a GOP member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said Thursday afternoon that he's leaving in mid-August. He'll become president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters at the big Washington Gas Conference Thursday that DOE plans to release a cost estimate of plans to aid coal and nuclear plants, per the Washington Examiner and other outlets.
David Livingston writes in our Expert Voices section ... Canada's largest utility, Hydro Quebec, says it's facing "unprecedented" demand from cryptocurrency mining, and has temporarily blocked servicing much of this demand until it finds a sustainable rate structure for blockchain-related processing.
Why it matters: Despite a precipitous drop in the value of many cryptocurrencies this year, the energy demands of the architecture behind such cryptocurrencies — blockchain and distributed ledger technologies — continue to grow.
It is presenting challenges, but also opportunities, particularly for utilities in developed countries that are desperately searching for new sources of demand growth.
The big picture: Blockchain-related power demand already outstrips that of electric vehicles globally, and Quebec is not alone. From Beijing to Tbilisi and beyond, blockchain-based processing is searching for low-cost electricity wherever it can be found, whether due to abundant renewable resources or price-distorting subsidies.
Hydro Quebec had until recently been courting cryptocurrency miners — touting its cheap, abundant, hydro-derived electricity — but was quickly overwhelmed with blockchain requests that represented over a quarter of its total generating capacity.
What's next: It's now up to governments and utilities to work together to harvest this potentially significant new source of electricity demand in a way that maximizes low-carbon power output and still ensures the ability to meet moments of peak demand.
Livingston is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.
Avoiding the resource curse: The World Bank recently approved $35 million in assistance — called development policy credit — to help Guyana's government prepare for ExxonMobil and its partners to launch production from massive offshore oilfields.
Why this matters: The country is poised to become the world's newest petro-state, and officials in Guayana and the bank say they're taking to steps to ensure the huge boost in federal revenues is appropriately handled and benefits the public.
Quoted: Riccardo Puliti, head of the World Bank Group's energy and extractives practice, told Axios that work with the government just started. On the sidelines of the World Gas Conference in Washington, Puliti said:
"It is really about ... making sure transparency, revenue management, it is all done in a certain way so the issue of resource curse is eliminated as much as possible."
The big picture: ExxonMobil's exploratory drilling has yielded multiple discoveries in the deepwater Stabroek block, which the company estimates to contain several billion barrels of oil-equivalent.
Why it matters for the companies: The new episode of Wood Mackenzie's podcast has some interesting numbers. They note that by 2027...
Axios intern Henrietta Reily reports ... An influential conservative organization is rallying like-minded interest groups to voice opposition to a carbon tax, largely in response to a new initiative launched last week urging support for such a policy, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The American Energy Alliance is among several such conservative groups with sway among Republicans on Capitol Hill. This influence is likely to hold strong despite former Republican leaders voicing support for a carbon price, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.
The details: The letter, for which the group is still seeking signatures, is addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and it urges them to hold a vote on Rep. Steve Scalise's non-binding, but politically important, resolution that would put lawmakers on the record opposing a carbon tax. The House overwhelmingly voted in support of the measure in 2016.
Go deeper: Read the story here.
Axios contributor Eric J. Lyman reports from Rome ... Pope Francis is hosting environmental leaders, researchers and activists next week at the Vatican to advocate for more aggressive action on climate change, according to multiple officials and an agenda viewed by Axios.
Why it matters: It’s the latest move in the pope's strategy pushing a worldwide discussion on climate change and comes just a few weeks after he hosted a very different crowd on the same topic: big oil and investment firm executives.
The details: The Vatican says the upcoming meeting, scheduled for July 5–6, will help set the stage for greater action in upcoming meetings including the Global Climate Action Summit in California, the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in Bali, and the year-end COP-24 UN climate summit in Poland. The pope is expected to address attendees on the second day.
Some expected attendees, as of June 28:
Go deeper: Read the full story here.