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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Shell is closing down its refinery in Convent, Louisiana, after failing to find a buyer for the plant that processes over 200,000 barrels of oil per day, the company said Thursday.

Why it matters: Most signs of Big Oil's climate plans have involved acquisitions and venture deals around renewables, batteries and other tech, but this move shows how the plans will also involve shedding assets in various parts of their business.

  • Shell said the move is partly a result of its long-term plans to transition its portfolio to lower-carbon sources as it aims for "net-zero" emissions by 2050.
  • Shell cited its strategy to invest in a "core set of uniquely integrated manufacturing sites that are also strategically positioned for the transition to a low-carbon future."

Yes, but: All that said I don't want to overstate the climate angle in what's mostly a market story as the industry grapples with COVID-19.

  • "Refineries have come under increasing financial pressure worldwide, as fuel demand has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic," the Houston Chronicle notes.
  • Per Reuters, it's the ninth North American refinery slated for shutdown or idling since the pandemic began.

What's next: The shutdown process at the plant, which employs 675 people, will begin later this month, Shell said.

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.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

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