The Energy Mix team scans about 1,200 incoming climate headlines each week so you don’t have to. Here’s a rundown of some of the stories that were fit to print but didn’t fit the page.
Reports that the world’s longest skating rink, Ottawa’s iconic Rideau Canal skateway, would remain closed this winter made news in the UK, 18 years after a study predicted it. Skiers wanted their sport’s governing body to take action on the loss of snow due to climate change.
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The Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association unveiled the first all-Canadian electric car. St-Jérôme, Quebec’s Lion Electric electrified the school bus industry, GM announced an electric motor plant in St. Catharines, Ontario, auto parts maker Magna International poured $470 million into an Ontario EV expansion, and the province still needed more EV charging stations. A Super Bowl ad pitched Stellantis’ Electric Dodge Ram, the EU announced a 2035 ban on new gasoline cars, arenas got interested in electric ice resurfacers, and the Biden administration arm-twisted Tesla into making some of its U.S. chargers available to other EV models. Alberta utility TransAlta bought into a pumped storage plant, and Utility Dive dug into the details of fire protection and battery safety.
U.S. President Joe Biden appointed two noted climate hawks to key posts, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wanted a Senate budget committee to function as a climate panel. The Biden administration allocated $10 billion to help clean up industry, pushed government contractors to cut their emissions, and looked to citizens to help monitor oil and gas industry methane emissions. (Contractors and fossils were not amused.) Corporate renewable energy contracts in the United States grew 45% in a year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced US$27 billion in clean energy grants for minority and low-income communities, while the U.S. energy department approved a $2-billion loan to a battery component maker and earmarked $50 million for tribal clean energy projects. EPA restored Obama-era mercury standards for coal plants but declined to challenge the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plans for a new gas plant, and—in an all-time shocker—the start-up of the Vogtle nuclear plant was delayed and project developer Georgia Power announced a cost overrun. Again.
Small-scale solar was driving down power demand in New England, New York consumers set a rooftop solar record last year, energy storage was set to reduce the state’s peak power needs, and an analyst said Britain’s fossil-dependent energy market is “blatantly rigged” against customers. The Rocky Mountain Institute published an embodied energy toolkit for cities, Montana sued Portland, Oregon, for banning a fossil fuel terminal, and Vermont Governor Phil Scott said a proposed New England transmission project “has legs again”.
Conservative activists in the rural United States attacked solar with misinformation. Norwegian state fossil Equinor attached a gag order to a science museum sponsorship, and a UK judge praised oil protesters’ “admirable aims” before handing them a suspended sentence for civil disobedience. A climate-denying former B.C. cabinet minister joined the provincial Conservatives, Nova Scotia approved two new wind farms, and a Nova Scotia politician admitted that Cape Breton’s Donkin coal mine is the province’s second-biggest emitter. Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix stepped down to concentrate (even more of) his efforts on industry advocacy, former Exxon exec Rich Kruger took the helm at safety-challenged Suncor Energy, Exxon abandoned its plans to make biofuels from algae, and fossils were looking ahead to continued record profits.
Great Lakes ice cover hit a record low and an Ontario couple filed a $2.2-million lawsuit over coastal erosion on Lake Huron. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of “biblical-scale” migration due to rising seas, Antarctic sea ice melt set new records, warming seas gouged into Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, El Niño was expected to speed up irreversible Antarctic melting, and the risk of glacial lake flooding became more acute. Investors snapped up Colorado River water rights while experts called for water law reform and the Washington Post looked for solutions to prevent “complete doomsday”. Cacti replaced snow on Swiss mountainsides.
Vladimir Putin was losing his energy war, and European gas prices fell as the continent’s immediate energy supply crisis receded. Texans were concerned about the Freeport LNG terminal reopening too soon and opposition mounted against a blue hydrogen plant in Louisiana.
High LNG prices pushed Pakistan to quadruple its use of domestic coal, and clean energy was an option to reduce Bangladesh’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. India faced February heat waves, its coal-based blast furnaces faced new scrutiny, and the Modi government faced off against what it called a “protectionist and discriminatory” carbon border adjustment. Carbon Brief dug into the climate implications of China’s food system, the world’s biggest.
Europe raced to build green steel plants, Australian industry needed 250 gigawatts of new wind and solar to hit a 1.5°C target, and the country risked energy shortages without more investment in renewables. Denmark planned 9 GW of offshore wind, Spanish wind giant Iberdola saw its installed capacity approached 40 GW, wind and solar produced almost enough electricity to power every home in China, and Chinese manufacturer Tongwei Solar boasted 21.7% efficiency for its new solar shingle. Analysts warned that EU investment rules would greenwash 90% of the Airbus fleet, and a study said airlines will need $1 trillion in carbon offsets by 2050 to hit (what would pass for) a net-zero target—or fewer passengers.
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