March 29, 2022
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1 big thing: The climate promise vs. policy gap is huge
A detailed new analysis puts a finer point on a troubling climate trend: Nations' policy moves are tepid compared to their ambitious emissions goals, Ben writes.
Driving the news: "While G20 governments made unprecedented promises in 2021, none has implemented sufficient policies to plausibly achieve deep decarbonization, though some are closer than others," the research firm BloombergNEF said in a report.
Why it matters: G20 nations account for roughly 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Global emissions haven't even begun the steep decline needed to keep the Paris agreement temperature goals within reach.
The big picture: BloombergNEF ranks G20 nations on a 0%-100% score in several areas, including the power, transport, buildings and industry.
- "A total of 11 out of the 19 nations upped their total scores this year, with an average for the whole group of 52% out of 100% — up 1 point from last year’s Policy Scoreboard. Hence, there remains plenty of room for improvement," the firm said in a summary of the findings.
What they're saying: "Government pledges often get the headlines and promises made around COP26 last year were impressive," BloombergNEF policy head Victoria Cuming said in a statement.
- "But talk is cheap — none of the G-20 countries has implemented sufficient concrete incentives and regulations to achieve what’s been promised.”
Zoom in: The report finds the most progress within the power sector, with an average score of 60%.
- There are also significant differences between nations. EU states and the U.K. average 75% for their overall scores. The U.S. gained ground to 57%, China slipped slightly to 59%.
2. Investors give thumbs up to Biden's LNG push
The share prices of large U.S. gas drillers have climbed over the last week as word emerged of White House plans to further increase LNG exports to Europe, Ben writes.
Why it matters: The share price moves show market optimism that U.S. policy is bullish for domestic production and sales.
- Stock prices for U.S. LNG exporters including Cheniere Energy have also popped over the last week.
Go deeper: Natural-Gas Industry Gets Boost as Biden Shifts Stance (WSJ)
3. VC notes: Earth imaging and Leonardo DiCaprio
Pixxel — a startup whose remote imaging tech has applications in forest monitoring, methane emissions tracking and other climate uses — has raised $25 million in Series A funding, Ben writes.
Driving the news: The funding comes from Radical Ventures, Relativity Space co-founder Jordan Noone, Seraphim Space Investment Trust Plc, Lightspeed Partners, Blume Ventures and Sparta LLC.
The big picture: The money will help "expedite production of the world’s highest resolution hyperspectral satellite constellation and ... offer industry AI-powered insights that discover, solve, and predict climate issues at a fraction of traditional satellite costs," the company said.
The company plans to soon launch its first satellites. TechCrunch has more
Speaking of venture capital, a new early stage fund called Regeneration VC announced its formation Monday and said it closed a $45 million inaugural round.
- Leonardo DiCaprio is a limited partner and strategic adviser to the fund, which is focused on sustainable packaging and on consumer products and their reuse.
- Via Bloomberg, "Its initial five portfolio companies are advertised as capturing small amounts of CO₂ from commercial buildings to make soap (CleanO2); growing leather without relying on cattle and their emissions (VitroLabs); turning aquaculture’s leftover shells into polystyrene, the common white packing plastic (Cruz Foam); helping companies rent and resell products (Arrive); and selling renewable apparel (Pangaia)."
4. Solar developers see big hurdles in Commerce probe
Solar project companies are issuing strong warnings about the potential harms from a new Commerce Department probe into whether China is doing an end-run around tariffs on panel shipments to the U.S., Ben writes.
Why it matters: The probe could lead to tariffs of 50%-250%, per the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an industry trade group.
- That would "have a devastating impact on the U.S. solar market at a time when solar prices are climbing, and project delays and cancellations are adding up," SEIA President Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.
- Several solar advocates made similar points about potential new costs and stunted solar growth.
Driving the news: Commerce said Monday it will investigate imports made via products assembled in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The move is a response to a request by the U.S. manufacturer Auxin Solar.
The other side: Auxin Solar CEO Mamun Rashid, in a statement, said Chinese solar manufacturers have for years "refused to fairly price their products" and are undercutting U.S. companies and workers.
- More broadly, the Wall Street Journal notes the battle "pits U.S. solar manufacturers against installers who use imported cells and modules."
Of note: A Commerce spokesperson tells Reuters the inquiry is a first step and "there has been no determination one way or the other on the merits."
5. Takeaways from Biden's long-shot budget pitch
White House budget proposals arrive on Capitol Hill written in pencil at best, but the new Biden administration plan nonetheless has provisions and messages worth watching, Ben writes.
Driving the news: The fiscal year 2023 request unveiled Monday would boost government-wide spending on climate and clean energy programs to almost $45 billion, the White House said.
A few takeaways ...
1. It goes big on global aid. The White House is asking Congress for over $11 billion for programs to help other countries cut emissions and adapt to warming.
- That's a tenfold boost to what Congress approved this year, per the New York Times, which notes the request faces an "uphill battle."
- $11.4 billion is a level the White House had previously sought by 2024. Officials "may be hoping for a friendlier reception on Capitol Hill, given the chance Democrats lose control of Congress in the November midterm elections," Bloomberg reports.
2. It leaves Biden's clean energy bill in suspended animation. The request lacks key provisions of the plan formerly known as "Build Back Better," notably a major expansion of clean power and electric vehicle tax incentives.
- But there's a "deficit neutral reserve fund" to accommodate the potential for reaching a deal on clean energy and social spending legislation with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
3. It's not just about the money. Biden's proposal also contains several windows into how the administration is specifically looking to reshape and expand key programs.
- The White House is asking Congress to widen the scope of the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to include R&D on innovations in climate adaptation and resilience.
6. Catch up fast: Uber and Petrobras
🤝🏽 Deals: "Uber Technologies Inc. and BP PLC said they are expanding their partnership through which they offer delivery of convenience products, including fresh and prepared foods, from BP's stores around the world." (MarketWatch)
🛢️Oil-and-gas: "Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has decided to replace the boss of Petrobras, Latin America’s biggest oil producer, for the second time in a year following a dispute over rising fuel costs that are hurting his prospects of re-election." (Financial Times)