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Situational awareness: California’s largest utility PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, expecting to face liability costs from its potential role in deadly wildfires across the state, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.
Onto music. At this moment in 1992, Cypress Hill was atop the Billboard rap charts with today's intro tune...
Many regions facing the biggest economic threats from global warming voted for President Trump and GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms, new analysis released via the Brookings Institution shows.
Why it matters: It highlights how lots of areas facing the greatest peril are backing policymakers who oppose strong federal steps to cut emissions.
What they did: The paper uses data on projected long-term harm and benefits by region from the Climate Impact Lab research consortium.
What they found: "Activists who want to change the political equation can derive a clear strategy from the harm data: Work in the reddish swing states by focusing spotlights and cost accounting on the severe economic effect wrought by climate change," the paper states.
By the numbers: 9 of the 10 states facing the biggest long-term losses in county income voted for Trump in 2016, including Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, the analysis states.
The bottom line: "Drill down on the political geography of climate damage and it becomes clear that in much of the country Republicans are voting for people who are opposed to climate policy, even as they are most exposed to climate impacts," the paper states.
Oil refinery in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
The stocks of refiners Valero and Chevron, two big buyers of Venezuelan crude, barely moved after the White House rolled out major sanctions against the country's state oil company PDVSA.
Why it matters: The muted response signals how the new sanctions, while a major escalation, aren't going to upend refining markets or spike prices for now.
What they're saying: "The U.S. government has gone to great lengths to try to limit the implications for the operations of CITGO and the U.S. Gulf Coast refining industry," sanctions expert Elizabeth Rosenberg said in this helpful S&P Global Platts explainer.
What's next: The U.S. was importing over a half-million barrels of Venezuelan crude per day as of late 2018, but refiners will look to other sources.
Threat level: ClearView Energy Partners said in a note that even with the 3-month wind-down, if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cuts exports to the U.S., "Gulf Coast refiners could be forced to bid early for heavy crude at premiums that reflect logistics costs."
Corporations worldwide signed contracts to buy 13.4 gigawatts of renewable power last year, more than doubling the 2017 total, the consultancy BloombergNEF said in a new report.
Details: Over half the 2018 total came in the U.S.
Why it matters: The report underscores how direct corporate procurement, led in the U.S. by Facebook and other tech giants, is becoming an important driver of wind and solar growth.
A new Morningstar report says that the rise of autonomous and electric vehicles may steeply cut U.S. gasoline demand in coming decades.
Why it matters: The report adds to analysts' efforts to game out how interlocking changes in mobility will affect fuel demand and, by extension, greenhouse gas emissions.
What they found: They project that the introduction and adoption of autonomous vehicle tech will cut ride-hailing costs a lot, although total vehicle mileage likely rises as consumers use ride-hailing and car-sharing more.
By the numbers, per the report:
Tesla: Via the Financial Times, "Saudi Arabia has slashed its exposure to Tesla less than four months after the carmaker’s chief executive Elon Musk settled fraud charges over his claim the kingdom was ready to back a management buyout."
Porsche: Per TechCrunch, "Owners of the upcoming Porsche Taycan will get three years of free charging at hundreds of Electrify America public stations that will blanket the U.S. in the coming months."
Rio Tinto: Via Bloomberg TV, the mining giant is increasing its work to develop materials needed for EV batteries, including a lithium project in Serbia that could break ground next year and meet 10% of global demand in 2023.
House: Via Quartz, there's a climate-related dustup between the high-profile lefty Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 3 of the country's tech behemoths. Per the report...
On Friday (Jan. 25) she sent a letter, along with fellow US representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, to the CEOs of Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, expressing her disappointment in the companies’ decision to sponsor LibertyCon, a libertarian student conference that was held in Washington earlier in January, and included an event devoted to climate change denial.
Quick take: At risk of reading too much into one letter, the decision to criticize the tech giants despite their climate and green energy moves — like this Facebook pledge — is a sign of how much some Democrats will prioritize global warming in the new Congress.
But, but, but: Google and Facebook pointed out to Quartz that sponsoring a conference is not an endorsement of everything discussed there.
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Senate: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is staffing up as he moves into the role of top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Here are two hires reported by E&E News and confirmed by Axios:
The intrigue: Climate activists aren't big fans of the pro-coal Manchin, but E&E's piece says Bassett's hire "may offer a symbol of the seriousness that Manchin is taking his position's responsibility to address climate change."
Cooling towers of the Neurath lignite-fired power plant in Grevenbroich, Germany. Photo: Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images
Axios Expert Voices contributor Justin Guay of the Sunrise project, a climate advocacy group, takes stock of Germany's plan to phase out use of coal fired power by 2038.
Where it stands: The agreement includes near-term plans to eliminate 12 gigawatts of existing coal plants in the next four years, equivalent to 25% of the country’s fleet.
Why it matters: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the developed world must phase out its coal fleet no later than 2030 for the world to avoid more severe consequences climate change.
The intrigue: Given that Germany is considered the industrial powerhouse of Europe, this announcement could send a powerful signal to other countries about the urgency to transition to renewable energy.
Go deeper: Read Guay's full post in the Axios stream.