The Energy Mix team scans about 1,200 incoming headlines each week to build our story lineup. Here’s a rundown of some of the stories that were fit to print but didn’t fit the page.
Saudi state fossil Aramco reported record profits of US$161 billion last year, and fossil execs attending the annual CERAWeek conference in Houston last week touted “energy security” and a longer future for oil and gas. “Our strategy is to stay as oily as we can for as long as we can,” one participant said.
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Former Shell CEO Ben van Beurden took home a 50% pay raise last year, at nearly $12 million. Fossils said the world desperately needs more oil, new data revealed 1,000 super-emitting methane leaks on track to trigger climate tipping points, and the European Union pushed for a fossil fuel phaseout ahead of this year’s COP 28 negotiations in Dubai. Colossal fossil ExxonMobil reevaluated its “Europe strategy” in light of the continent’s windfall profits tax, and global liquid fuel production outpaced demand.
Volkswagen picked Ontario for its first North American EV battery plant, Canadian photovoltaic manufacturer Silfab planned a $125-million, 1-GW manufacturing plant in the U.S., and Quebec-based convenience store chain Couche Tard looked into EV charging in Norway. Energy consumption in Quebec was “not evolving”, a U.S. pipeliner sought a $20-billion judgement after the province refused a Saguenay LNG plant, and Gibsons, B.C. voted to Sue Big Oil. The Canada Infrastructure Bank invested $173 million in Saskatchewan’s Bekevar wind energy project, the Royal Bank of Canada tied top executives’ compensation to climate strategy, and the Alberta NDP wanted to retroactively cover firefighters who developed cancer after taking on the Fort McMurray wildfire known as “The Beast” in 2016.
Clean energy was set to deliver 84% of new grid capacity in 2023, and agrivoltaics grew from five megawatts in 2012 to 2.9 gigawatts in 2020. Burlington, Vermont voted for a “carbon pollution impact fee” on new buildings that install fossil-fuelled heating systems, New York got serious about climate resilience on the Lower East Side, a Colorado non-profit worked on affordable net-zero homes, an Oregon gas utility ran an astroturf campaign against electrification, the “once cool forests” of the U.S. Pacific Northwest were threatened by heat, and Washington State raised $300 million for climate action from carbon polluters. The U.S. postponed its five-year drilling plan to December, and environmentalists sued to stop an oil and gas auction in the Gulf of Mexico. Trump-enabling U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pitched a carbon import fee.
A December deep freeze punctured Texas’ myth of fossil fuel reliability and state legislators moved to demote renewables in the power supply. West Texas landowners worried about fracking water threatening their aquifers, a methane leak had people feeling unsafe in Pennsylvania, enforcement of New Mexico’s anti-gas flaring laws was falling short, and the U.S. regulated wastewater discharge from coal plants. An Arizona small business looked to decarbonize concrete, an Arizona county approved a solar-powered cobalt production plant, and the Biden administration partnered with states to buy lower-emission products. Georgia’s troubled Vogtle plant was expected to be the last big nuclear facility built in the U.S., New York’s Nine Mile Point nuclear plant said it was producing green hydrogen, and critics said the Fukushima nuclear disaster was no accident.
Cyclone Freddy devastated parts of Africa after setting a record for longevity, and New Zealand freelancer Anna Rankin shared the “dread that replaces panic” in her cyclone diary. Global heating was making “global concurrent climate extremes” worse, hard-hit Italy was falling behind on climate adaptation, and Iraq’s prime minister promised action on crippling climate change.
The UK Met Office said action to hit climate targets could reduce flooding by one-fifth. Sir David Attenborough urged action to save “nature in crisis”, and the Bank of England announced spending cuts for its work on climate change. Leaked emails showed the European gas industry lobbying against a boiler phaseout, Germany saw rooftop solar jump 52% in 2022 but planned 25 GW of new gas plants by 2030, France criticized Germany’s bid to water down the EU’s ban on internal combustion vehicle sales, and BloombergNEF said internal combustion began its decline in 2017. Dozens of bushfires spread as heat gripped eastern Australia, Russia declared the World Wildlife Fund a foreign agent, Dutch farmers and climate activists geared up for pre-election protests, and violence in eastern Congo showed the “bloody cost of energy”.
Carbon credit certification giant Verra said it would replace its rainforest offsets scheme, investment managers controlling $136 trillion in assets asked for more environmental data, and audit giant KMPG was accused of serving companies responsible for deforestation. Canada lobbied against deforestation controls, European biofuels took up enough land to feed 120 million people, global warming was “indisputably” causing more extreme drought and rain, Florida insurance companies were said to be skimping on Hurricane Ian claims, and California faced flooding after another atmospheric river.
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