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.
Surging electricity demand brought new urgency for Canada to upgrade its grid, and North America’s green building “heroes” were scaling up. Toronto-based Brookfield Renewable nearly doubled its renewables portfolio from 62 to 110 gigawatts. International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol wanted Canada to step up production of critical minerals, GM invested in a massive new lithium mine in the U.S., and a town in Prince Edward County, Ontario, turned down a new battery storage installation.
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Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC, stepped back from metallurgical coal projects, and a study looked at coal’s stranded asset risk in a 1.5°C future. North Carolina coal plants were more expensive than new solar farms, a U.S. study found solar and wind are cheaper than coal across the country, and the Biden administration put up US$1.7 billion for new electric buses. Maine’s utility regulator approved the biggest wind farm in the eastern U.S., a Maine coalition worked to keep organized labour in the picture with offshore wind, and the Parkland Institute laid out a just transition plan to ensure no worker is left behind as Alberta diversifies out of fossil fuels. Solar panels were good for grazing sheep.
A dark money group was sharpening the Republican attack on supposedly “woke” finance strategies on Wall Street. Florida Republicans didn’t want oil drilling off the coast of their state, but their House caucus started its attack on the Biden climate agenda. Canadian academic-provocateur Jordan Peterson was called out for his “zombie climate contrarianism”, and climate change got a funny, new streaming show with actor Kal Penn.
Changes to Alberta’s its oil sands cleanup fund had a First Nation concerned about whether industry would be held accountable. Colossal fossil Shell was sued for years of oil spills in the Niger Delta and faced possible court action over emissions violations at a Pennsylvania petrochemical plant, and a Colorado case involving Calgary’s Suncor Energy was a possible watershed moment for municipal climate lawsuits. Shell CEO Wael Sawan said the world is “desperately in need” of natural gas.
A new legal strategy looked at compensating Alaska Native communities as climate refugees. State politicians including Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native elected to Congress, pushed the Biden administration to approve the massive Willow oil project, described by its opponents as an $8-billion carbon bomb. An energy transition specialist said it’s too soon to celebrate on methane reductions.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said it’s terrific that a fossil CEO will chair this year’s UN climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, and two U.S. climate hawks retorted that it’s terrifying. China state media said the country is leading global investment in the energy transition while the world’s biggest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, stood accused of massively increasing its financing of dirty energy. India planned a $4.3-billion clean energy investment and proposed 4,000 megawatt-hours of battery projects. Four West African countries received $311 million in World Bank funding for renewable energy projects, Nigeria’s biggest solar project went online, and South Africa declared a state of disaster over power outages. A green methanol investment was paying off in Iceland. Australia opened the world’s first solar methanol plant and received funding for two gigawatt-scale green hydrogen projects, and climate hawks mourned Australian climate scientist Will Steffen, as a passionate communicator and one of the world’s greatest Earth system experts. Steffen who died in Canberra at age 75.
Winter brought -34°C cold to Afghanistan, killing 160 people and more than 70,000 livestock in two weeks. Record heat deaths in Texas last year disproportionately affected migrants, London had the highest heat-related death toll among European cities, 13 died in a “swarm” of Chilean wildfires, increased wildfire activity was expected to challenge regulators’ ability to control dangerous PM2.5 particulate matter over the eastern U.S., and a cholera epidemic in Malawi underscored the health impacts of climate change. Sea levels looked to be rising faster than expected, more frequent river floods endangered European road networks, and flooding in Auckland, New Zealand, pointed to the importance of “sponge cities”.